KARL Robinson has urged Oxford United to block out any distractions against Gillingham.

The Kent side are managed by Steve Evans, who made his presence known on the touchline in last season’s meetings between the teams.

Robinson had a heated exchange with his opposite number during last October’s 3-1 defeat at Priestfield, when the U’s were forced to change in the family stand concourse due to a ‘spike in Covid cases’.

United then made Gillingham use one of the South Stand lounges, instead of the away dressing room, for April’s 3-2 victory at the Kassam Stadium.

Read also: Karl Robinson's rallying cry ahead of Gillingham clash

Evans will inevitably be the pantomime villain tomorrow, but Robinson says U’s fans and players must focus on their own team as they look for a first win in September.

United’s head coach said: “Steve Evans can do what he wants, it’s not an issue for us.

“He’s done this for long enough now, he knows what he’s doing.

“He’s got some good players and good people, I know two or three of their players really well.

“Get behind our players, leave Steve Evans to do what he wants.

“We will show them what we’re all about as a football club.

“That togetherness is far greater than the negativity we can show to somebody else.

“He doesn’t work for us, he doesn’t affect our results, we affect our own.

“I’m really looking forward to the next two games because it gives us a tremendous opportunity to put our best foot forward again.”

OPINION: Oxford United need a Sam Long moment

United’s last meeting with Gillingham was as dramatic as it gets.

The hosts were 2-0 down with 16 minutes remaining, but Sam Winnall’s strike and Sam Long’s double – the winner coming in stoppage-time – secured a 3-2 win.

It proved crucial to United’s charge to the Sky Bet League One play-offs, although Robinson would rather a more comfortable afternoon.

He said: “I don’t want it to be that close this year, I’d much rather have a normal game.

“It was one that they’ll feel bitterly disappointed that they never got anything out of.

“We know it’s going to be a hard game.”

The result effectively ended Gillingham’s play-off push, despite the visitors controlling the game until the late comeback.

Evans’s men are 19th after a slow start to this season, but Long knows United must be switched on.

The right back said: “Every team has their strengths and way of playing and Gillingham have theirs.

“It’s effective and last year they didn’t miss out on the play-offs by much, just by doing what they’re good at.

“We need to be ready for that and we need to be aware of their strengths.

“I’m sure we’ll be able to nullify that if we do it properly.”