Gillingham’s goal scoring potential has been a hot topic on the Priestfield terraces previously this season. At the time of that article, Ruaridhri Donnelly (we’ll call him Rory) was struggling for minutes but had shown glimpses of his talent, not least with his assist for Jake Hessenthaler’s goal against Plymouth in the Capital One Cup.
But, with four goals in two games, including his spectacular chipped effort against Fleetwood, Donnelly is carrying the Gills’ strike-force on his own at the minute.
Cody McDonald’s struggles continue and he has largely been limited to a substitute, cameo role, often coming on for the final 30 minutes or so and struggling to make an impact. His goal against Fleetwood, his first of the season, lit hopes that he would go on to greater things this campaign, but this remains to be seen.
Luke Norris continues to be an interesting case – the boo-boys seem to have firmly latched onto him, and there aren’t many players who have managed to turn that around at Priestfield. Matt Fish managed it in the Championship-winning season, but so many others have lost their confidence and their spot in the team because of the negativity.
Ben Williamson was strong against Luton on Tuesday, but it seems he will very much be fulfilling a squad role this season.
Rory Donnelly therefore looks set for an extended run in a team that is (despite the perennial doubters of its strike-force) scoring goals. So much so, in fact, that Gillingham top the scoring charts throughout all four divisions. The assets that he has shown in netting his four goals are promising for a proliferate record. He showed the skill of being in the right place at the right time, the technique to beat his man (or even three of them), and great composure and finishing capabilities. Moreover, Donnelly showed that he will fit into the high pressing, high energy game that Gills boss, Justin Edinburgh, has impressed on the team this season.
Against Fleetwood, Donnelly jumped for every ball (winning his fair share, too, which will be important when he is playing alongside McDonald), put himself about and worked tirelessly until he was substituted after a rash challenge brought him a yellow card.
One swallow doesn’t make a summer, and Gills fans should be careful about putting too much pressure on Donnelly’s young shoulders, but the early signs are great. Getting a settled, competent front two may also ease some of the restrictions on Bradley Dack, as he is currently getting marked out of games.
Either way, it is great to see another Edinburgh signing improving the squad (on a free, too) and starting to step up to the mark.
Let the goals flow, Rory!
Main photo sourced from Kent Online