By Samuel Taylor
Oxford United face Gillingham at the Kassam Stadium with just one place between them. The hosts will look to build on their impressive 4-1 win over Coventry at the weekend.
Despite the victory manager Michael Appleton reserved any praise for his players and told the Oxford Mail: “If we get another win and a performance like that on Tuesday, maybe I’ll give one or two bits of praise out.”
The win came at some cost with left back Joe Skarz and striker Wes Thomas both being taken off on a stretcher. Thomas will be out for the rest of the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon while Skarz is likely to miss the game with concussion.
Wes Thomas out for the rest of the season for #OUFC. Appleton confirms he has ruptured his Achilles. MA: "He's gutted and disappointed."
— Craig Punfield (@CraigPunITV) November 21, 2016
Top scorer Chris Maguire will want to keep up his form after scoring his first goal in five games against Coventry.
Gillingham put their embarrassing FA Cup defeat to Brackley Town behind them with a 2-1 win away to Walsall thanks to a Jay Emmanuel-Thomas last minute free kick.
The loanee from QPR took his goal tally to seven for the season and is Gillingham’s top scorer.
Gillingham’s problems are mainly at the back. They got their first clean sheet in 29 games against West Brom under-21’s in the Checkatrade Trophy but have yet to record one in the league.
The last time Gillingham kept a clean sheet was on 9 April. Before Brexit, Trump, Oztumer, Honey G and a dancing Ed Balls were even things.
— Saddlers Stats (@saddlersstats) November 19, 2016
After a tough start to the season, Gillingham have won two in a row and manager Justin Edinburgh is hoping to orchestrate an assault towards the play off places.
Edinburgh is thankful for the support chairman Paul Scally has given him. He told Kent Online: “People might think it’s easy to stick with the manager but I think it’s harder (to stick) and easier to sack. He has been a fantastic chairman for me but more importantly very supportive, win, lose or draw.”
Gillingham have no new injury worries. The game just comes too soon for summer signing Lee Martin who is recovering from a broken ankle sustained in a pre-season friendly against Leyton Orient.