Tuesday 22th November – Gills 2-2 Wycombe Wanderers A.E.T. lost 3-1 on pens (LDV2)
Given this game was pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things it proved to be rather entertaining for the 2,111 with nothing better to do on a Tuesday night.
After having to endure so many stodgy or plain dull games in recent weeks it was refreshing to see the Gills under the leadership of Ronnie Jepson (nobody was going to mess with such a hard northern bugger who wears shorts on such a chilly night, right through to extra-time and penalties) give it a right go against opponents who we enjoying an excellent start to the season under the management of John Gorman.
Jarvis had a very lively evening opening the scoring on 23 minutes thanks to a splendid Byfield through ball. He latched onto the pass and finished with a chip that deflected in off the Wycombe keeper. Four minutes later he’d made it 2-0 after a clever pass by Smith put the much-maligned Harris clear down the right wing, he intelligently took it on before squaring for the unmarked Jarvis to tap home at the far post.
Wycombe pulled one back on 39 minutes via Griffin when sluggish defending allowed him time to lash the ball into the roof of the net from close range. The equaliser was more avoidable with a series of errors gifting Wycombe a second. A soft shot by Dixon was pathetically parried by the accident-prone Bullock straight back to Dixon, Johnson had no option but to bundle him over. The referee gave the penalty and Griffin scored his second three minutes after his first. From seemingly cruising to victory the Gills were back to square one.
The second half was equally open but produced no further goals due largely to the incompetence of the Gills strikers and the officials. Pick of the misses was perpetrated by Harris (who else?) who when presented with an open goal six yards out contrived to hit the post. Turner denied Harris again before sub Shields missed a simple one-on-one and Cox had a goal rightly ruled out.
Anya missed a late sitter for Wycombe but by then with the temperatures plummeting the crowd became resigned to another dose of extra-time. The Gills did actually score a legitimate “winner” in the 114th minute, Cox header hit the bar and bounced down over the line before being cleared, but the officials failed to spot it and so for the first time ever Priestfield got to stage a first-team penalty shoot out… and what a shambles it was too.
Wycombe went first and missed, the Gills then missed their first three, Crofts (high and extremely wide), Shields (timidly straight at the keeper) and Cox (nearly broke the bar) whilst Wanderers kept their composure to make it 2-0. Bloomfield could have won it but blazed even higher and wider then Crofts, then with the pressure on Williams did manage to hit the back of the net (about bloody time) which meant Richard Johnson had to score to win it which he duly did. Oh, and yes, Bullock did then do his falling over on his back trick… Our final hopes of Cup glory over for another year.
Champagne Moment: The farcical penalty shoot-out. Losing was compensated for by the knowledge that we couldn’t get a horrible midweek draw in a competition not worth bothering with until the Final is back at Wembley.