(Picture: Action Images, via Reuters)
By Luke Baker
WITH three Football League goals in 136 games heading into the season, Max Ehmer could never be described as prolific.
Yet the Gillingham defender has found the Midas Touch this term, with four goals already to his name heading into this weekend – even if he is at a loss to explain where this sudden clinical edge has come from.
The campaign started with a bang for Ehmer as he netted in the 3-1 opening-day victory over Southend before grabbing a 90th-minute winner against Shrewsbury before the end of August.
A September strike at home to Coventry followed, while the 24-year-old slid in at the back post to convert Jay Emmanuel-Thomas’ flick against Northampton a fortnight ago.
Ehmer’s unlikely purple patch has him as the Gills’ second-highest scorer in League One this season – behind only Emmanuel-Thomas – although he laughs off any suggestion he is showing the strikers how it is done.
Far more pertinent for the German-born defender is the fact Gillingham’s only clean sheet this term came in the Checkatrade Trophy and admits he would happily give up his goalscoring hot streak for a more miserly defence.
“I’m a defender first and foremost and clean sheets are what you get judged on,” explained Ehmer. “Anything up the other end like goals and assists are a bonus.
“I’d rather keep clean sheets than score goals and we haven’t kept a clean sheet in the league yet.
“I really don’t know why I’m suddenly scoring so many. Obviously I scored on the first day of the season and I thought that was going to be my only goal of the year!
“I’ve already got three more since and now, when I go up for corners, I’m thinking I’m going to score.
“It’s strange, I’ve never really been a goalscorer at any level but now it’s changed. Someone sent me the stat that I’d only scored three in 140-odd games and now I’ve got four in less than 20. Hopefully I can get as many as possible.”
Ehmer came through the QPR academy but only ever made one substitute appearance for the R’s, instead having a string of loan spells at clubs such as Yeovil, Preston, Stevenage and Carlisle.
He spent six months on loan at Gillingham from November 2014 and made the switch permanent the following summer.
He helped them to ninth in League One last season and the expectation this year was for a concerted promotion push, although it has been a mixed bag in the early going with the club trapped in mid-table following Tuesday’s 1-0 loss at Oxford United.
Ehmer acknowledges that the Gills expect better and is confident the set-up at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium will ultimately lead to them ending their 12-year exile from the second tier of English football.
“We’re not that happy with where we are in the league and then I always think you can do better as a player – you can’t ever say you’re doing unbelievably,” added Ehmer.
“I’m happy enough with my performances but we’re not as high up in the league as we think we should be.
“In terms of our squad and everything about the club, we should definitely be in the top six. We’re not far off it in terms of points but we just haven’t been consistent enough.
“It’s a tough one to address because it’s a bit of everything – concentration, consistency and we’re giving away stupid goals.
“We’re also not scoring enough. Last season we would be winning games 3-2 but this year we’re not scoring as many and we’re conceding more.
“It’s been tricky but we’ve got to find the right balance and I’m confident we will.”
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