Young striker Charlie Kelman said his winning goal for Gillingham on Saturday was a weight on his shoulders.
It’s been two years since QPR’s last league goal on loan – and what a crucial it was. Gills’ win puts them level on points with teams outside the Ligue 1 drop zone, with the only goal difference keeping them in the bottom four.
Kelman last scored in the league in March 2020 for Southend, while on loan at Roots Hall. The 20-year-old showed his determination heading to the far post at the weekend in Doncaster to convert Ryan Jackson’s long throw. Only 59 seconds were on the clock. His goal was enough to earn three points for the Blues.
“It was our biggest game of the season so far and I’m on fire,” Kelman said after the game.
“Guys were kicking me saying ‘when are you going to score?!’ It’s good to have 50 seconds, we just want to take as many points as possible and see where we are at the end of the season.
“The gaffer is always big on set pieces and we had walked through it on Friday. The ball bounced and the next thing I remember I was off to celebrate, I just attacked it. It’s always good to stand out and hopefully that’s just the start.
It’s a first goal in 19 Gillingham appearances for Kelman who admitted the lack of goals was playing on his mind.
He said: “I would lie awake at night thinking ‘when is this going to happen?’ Then when it slipped out of my head, you just have that weight on your shoulders, it was an amazing feeling.
“The manager said he understood (the lack of goals). It’s been more than two years since a first goal for the team, I had just worked hard and kept my head down, that’s the main thing, c was great to have a goal.
Team-mate Ben Thompson found himself in the back of the net, along with the Doncaster goalkeeper and two defenders, as Kelman ran off to celebrate.
He said: “I wanted it more than anyone and I think you could tell, it was a great feeling.”
Kelman was challenged to show he deserved his place in the starting XI during training after Harris told the player he was considering starting against Doncaster. He had been a substitute in the previous four,
“We had an honest conversation on Tuesday,” the striker said.
“The gaffer said he wanted to start me but said ‘give me a reason to’. Tuesday I trained hard, Thursday and Friday the same and I was told I would start. I I just kept my head down.
“He told me what he wanted from me and we worked on it. It paid off.
“It’s just the beginning, I’m not going to get carried away, I just want to keep doing my part whether I score or not, I just want to run for the guys, run for the team and the fans and see where we are after nine games.
Kelman’s time at Gills came to light when the previous management team fired him at QPR. A few months later, he was asked to return when Alex MacDonald and Steve Lovell took over as the goalie team and he’s happy to be back.
He said: “I’m sure what happened will end up on a podcast when I’m 35 someday but it was great, it’s a good idea to come back and help the guys, they m really welcomed, that one was for them.”
Kelman did not finish the match as a tight calf caused him to be substituted. He will be looking forward to more action on Tuesday night when the Gills take on Charlton Athletic.
“It’s not that bad,” he insisted. “We’ll see how I’m doing, it’s just a bit of tightness. I think I’ll be fine.