Saturday 18th February – Doncaster Rovers 2-0 Gills
This really was an action replay of the defeat at Belle Vue (sorry, Earth Stadium!) in the League Cup back in the autumn. That time 333 Gills fans made the trek on a wet Tuesday night, this time 332 turned up for a bright but chilly Saturday afternoon in February, but the result was the same 2-0 to the Rovers.
After the Swindon debacle, and yes it really was a debacle, the Gills fans demanded more, much more but without the mercurial Byfield they got even less than usual. This was a limp, pointless performance lacking in anything positive. The passing was shoddy, the tactics strange (3-5-2 didn’t work) and the levels of excitement never got above the comatose. Rovers harboured faint hopes of a late surge for the play-offs but in all reality it was a meaningless end of season stroll which given the Gills went into the game three points above the relegation zone with more than a quarter of the season remaining bordered on the criminally stupid.
It began badly and simply got worse. Clohessy was forced to clear a header from Wheater off the line early on, and although the willing but limited Mulligan did force a save out of Blayney, Rovers looked to be well on top. We trundled along looking devoid of ideas whilst Leo Fortune-West and friends actually created some genuine chances. McCormack smacked one effort against the bar from the edge of the box before the game was realistically lost on 27 minutes in controversial circumstances. The ball was played into a crowded box, it pinged around a bit, looked to be safely going out, but the long legs of Leo back-healed the ball back into the danger zone, cue more slow motion keystone cop defending and blind panic in the Gillingham ranks (Leon Johnson was not having a good day) and Wheater prodded the ball gently towards the goal. Brown fell on the ball on the line, He masked what happened next, but basically the Donny players claimed it was over the line and the referee enthusiastically concurred despite Jason’s subsequent protestations. Television pictures were inconclusive but do tend to suggest Jason had a decent case to argue…
It didn’t matter, we continued to be dreadful and then Horlock, (yes that Horlock) clattered Mulligan who was stretchered off leaving our already modest attacking ambitions in tatters. In the injury time that was then added on Donny scored again leaving the Gills deflated and clueless. Leon Johnson was the culprit this time with a clumsy and reckless challenge on Price who made the most of the contact to win a soft as shite penalty. McCormack gently sent Brown the wrong way to make it 2-0, game well and truly over.
The second half was a complete non-event in the sunshine. We plodded about looking crap, they looked happy enough to keep what they had in cruise control. Brown did save brilliantly from their Mulligan and they did threaten sporadically but it was a listless second period that simply petered out. The travelling fans were not amused… clap them off? You must be fecking joking!
Champagne Moment: The train service between Doncaster and London is very fast. We got back to London very quickly, which was nice. Next time we go there Donny might have moved into their brand spanking new 15,000 stadium… I bet we still lose 2-0 though.