Millwall begin their Carabao Cup campaign this Tuesday night (kick-off 7.45pm) as League One Gillingham make the short trip to The Den.
The First Round clash sees Neil Harris’ men take on the challenge of a Gills side who have taken maximum points from their opening two League matches as they look to secure passage to the Second Round, which introduces the Premier League clubs without European football.
Here is a closer look at our visitors ahead of the dawn of domestic Cup competition for 2018/19.
Founded 125 years ago, Gillingham are currently the sole representatives of Kent in the EFL. Gills have consistently played League football since 1950, spending the majority of their time since in the third and fourth tiers.
The club’s league form peaked between 2000 and 2005, after their promotion into Division One (now The Championship). During this time, Gillingham registered a club-best position of 11th in the second tier during the 2002/3 season.
Gills’ furthest Cup run saw them become the last Division Two side left in the FA Cup in 1999/2000 at the Quarter-Final stage against Chelsea, after eliminating the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Bradford City and Walsall. The furthest the side have reached in the League Cup is the Fourth Round on two occasions, in 1964 and 1997.
Ones to Watch
Goalkeeper Tomas Holy has been Gills’ first-choice stopper so far this season. The former Czech Republic U18 international arrived at the Priestfield Stadium in January 2017 from the ‘B’ team of Sparta Prague, following loan spells with various clubs in his homeland including FK Viktoria Zizkov, where he had his most successful season in 2014/15. Standing at a gargantuan 6’9’’, Holy will certainly be a force to be reckoned with should he keep his place between the sticks for Steve Lovell’s side.
Gabriel Zakuani carries years of League experience and has been a smart acquisition for Gills since they secured his signature in the summer of 2017. The 32-year-old centre-back has slotted straight into the back line for Lovell’s team and brings reliability and a physical edge. Zakuani established himself in League football with Leyton Orient, and played for Peterborough United across two spells for eight seasons. The defender has also represented Stoke City, Northampton Town as well as enjoying a stint in Greece with Kalloni, and has been a senior DR Congo international since 2005, appearing in three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.
Midfield man Dean Parrett joined Gillingham in the summer after leaving AFC Wimbledon, where he had spent the previous two seasons. Parrett came through the ranks at QPR before moving across London to the Tottenham Hotspur academy, making his first-team debut in the UEFA Cup in 2009. Following a series of loan spells with the likes of Charlton Athletic and Yeovil Town to pick up valuable League experience, Parrett signed for Stevenage where he became a mainstay in the midfield. Adept as a box-to-box man or in a number 10 role, 26-year-old Parrett is a creative force in the Gills side and has all the attributes of a key central player.
Tom Eaves has continued his good form for Gills, picking up where he left off at the end of last season to score five goals in his last two starts, including two in last weekend’s win over Burton Albion. Like Parrett, Eaves is 26 and made his name during numerous loan spells, before signing for Yeovil and moving onto Gillingham in 2017. The 6’5’’ striker can operate as a threatening target man, equally skilful with the ball at his feet, and excels in bringing teammates into play. Formerly of Oldham Athletic, Bolton Wanderers and Shrewsbury Town, Eaves has the pedigree of League football and will be a key threat this campaign at the Priestfield Stadium.
In the Dugout
Steve Lovell is a figure known amongst both clubs. The 58-year-old was originally a Football in the Community officer with Gillingham whilst still playing as a striker, having previously made almost 250 appearances in a Gills shirt, after a four-year spell as a Millwall player.
Having been a part of the ‘Gang of Four’ co-caretaker management at Gillingham in 2014, Lovell left to become assistant manager of Bromley, before taking The Gills reins on a permanent basis last season after returning as a coach.
Lovell represented the Welsh national team whilst a player at The Den, and has also managed the likes of Hastings United and Ashford Town.