The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John Lyons

NORTHAMP­TON v GILLING­HAM To­day. Kick-off: Noon

GILLING­HAM seek League One sur­vival to­day – against the man­ager they sacked ear­lier this sea­son!

The Kent club axed Justin Ed­in­burgh in the New Year, and a mere ten days later the for­mer Tot­ten­ham left­back took the reins at fel­low League One side Northamp­ton.

The Cob­blers lie 16th and are safe from the threat of rel­e­ga­tion, but Gilling­ham are still look­ing over their shoul­ders.

They were 17th when Ed­in­burgh was given the el­bow, but now find them­selves 20th, just one point and one place above fourth-bot­tom Port Vale.


Had Vale lost at Wal­sall in mid­week, they would have been rel­e­gated. But Chris Eagles’ goal in a 1-0 win en­sured they live to fight another day and kept the Gills and Bury, in 19th, sweat­ing.

It all makes for a pres­sure-cooker fi­nal day – and the fact the Gills take on their old boss adds ex­tra spice.

Gilling­ham mid­fielder Josh Wright feels he owes Ed­in­burgh and his as­sis­tant David Ker­slake a debt of grat­i­tude but says friend­ship will go out of the win­dow at Six­fields.

The 27-year-old, named cap­tain by Ed­in­burgh, said: “I will al­ways have a lot of time for Justin and David. They brought me in the pre-sea­son be­fore last. I signed a con­tract, be­came a reg­u­lar and have had two very suc­cess­ful sea­sons. I have to thank them for that.

“It hurt me and oth­ers when they left, but the club made a de­ci­sion. I think it’s great they got another job straight­away and they have a big fu­ture in the game, but Sun­day is about Gil­ing­ham FC.

“I’m de­ter­mined to beat them and I’m sure they want to beat us.” The for­mer Scun­thorpe, Mill­wall and Ley­ton Ori­ent man has had an ex­cel­lent sea­son, high­lighted by the fact he’s scooped Gilling­ham’s Player of the Year, Play­ers’ Player and Away Fans’ awards.

He’s weighed in with a bumper 14 goals, in­clud­ing a much-pub­li­cised hat­trick of penal­ties in a dra­matic 3-2 win against Scun­thorpe last month.

And he’s ea­ger to take on the Cob­blers. “In an ideal world we wouldn’t be play­ing for sur­vival. We would be at the other end of the ta­ble, but it is what it is.

“There’s pres­sure. It’s go­ing to be nervy and tense, but I’m one of those peo­ple who thrive off a bit of pres­sure – I can’t wait.

“We should be safe al­ready, but the league ta­ble doesn’t lie and it’s up to us as a team to get a re­sult.

“It’s still in our hands and I’m still very con­fi­dent we will stay up.”

Wright, brother of tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter Mark, ad­mits to­day’s game could have a mas­sive im­pact on the club, de­pend­ing on how it goes.

“It’s not just a game of foot­ball, it means more than that,” added Wright, who has another year left on his con­tract.

“Liveli­hoods are at stake and we will be go­ing there fight­ing and giv­ing ev­ery­thing to help get to safety. ”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

FRIENDS AND RI­VALS: Josh Wright and, in­set, Justin Ed­in­burgh

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