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It's the big one!

12 January 2013

By Tony Leighton

It's the biggest game of the npower League 2 season as top of the table Gillingham entertain second-placed Port Vale on Saturday with vital promotion points at stake.

A win for the leaders would take them five points clear of Vale - and with a game in hand - as they look to climb back up to League 1 after a two-year absence.

And winger Chris Whelpdale, who hit the Gills' victory-clincher in September's 2-0 win at Vale Park, is determined to help Martin Allen's team complete the double.

Former Peterborough United player Whelpdale told football-league.co.uk: "We dominated most of the game at their place and it was a big win for us.

"We'll aim to do the same again, and if we can start as well as we did in our last two matches then we'll have every chance of picking up another three points.

"Vale have shown what a good team they are this season though, so it will be a tough game - but it could be a great game too and I'm really looking forward to it."

The Gills have set the pace at the top of the table since a brilliant start saw them win seven and draw the other one of their opening eight league games.

They slipped to second place at the end of December after a run of just one win in five culminated in a shock home defeat by lowly Barnet.

But they have responded in style, winning their last two games - both away from home - to reclaim top spot and make themselves firm favourites to win the division.

Whelpdale, who was a goalscorer in each of those games, said: "We didn't like dropping to second place, even though it was only for a couple of days.

"We had a bit of a blip, but that happens to every team. We've come through that and the aim now is to kick on and stay at the top for the rest of the season."

If the Gills achieve their aim it will be a fourth promotion on Whelpdale's CV, each of the previous three having been with Peterborough.

The first of those three promotions was from League 2, and the 23-year-old winger says that the current Gillingham team has a similar feel to that successful Posh side.

"There's the same buzz around the training ground, the same enthusiasm day-in, day-out and a squad that's got similar qualities and strength in depth," he said.

"You look at the subs' bench and think, 'wow!' There are players sitting there who could step in at any time without affecting the quality or effectiveness of the team.

"With that strength in depth we've got good cover for any injuries we might get, and if we can keep our consistency we can be right up there come the end of the season.

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