Friday 1st September – Gills 0-2 Scunthorpe
It’s difficult to remain rational about what happened around this game, which ultimately could come to be seen as a turning point in Scally’s reign at the club. On the face of it the whole evening was an utter bloody disaster, but in the cold light of day the performance wasn’t as desperate as it sometimes seemed. This, though, is the key problem – we can’t take our chances and we’re hopelessly vulnerable at the back. Hence we are effectively bottom of the league.
We attacked from the off and created enough clear cut chances in the opening 15 minutes to have cruised into an unassailable lead. But a lack of finesse and vision lets us down again and again. Scunthorpe looked poor and were struggling to cope with Jarvis until they eventually stuck two men on him, and as ever we were unable to exploit the space that presumably someone else had. This was the beauty of Tommy Black at the tail end of last year…no-one could afford to devote their entire defence to chaperoning two wingers.
I still think we have sufficient in our squad to keep us out of bother but right now we’re heading for the basement. I feel sorry for players like Jarvis, Jackman, Pouton and the front runners as a lot or their endeavour is coming to nothing. We haven’t worked out how to bring McDonald and Jarvis into the game, and Guy is still finding his feet, though I have my doubts that he’s going to snaffle a hatful. Mulligan’s qualities aren’t what we need, and that makes him a luxury in the side, a bit like Sidibe when we knew he was a worthy player but should never have been in the side if there was an alternative who could grab even 10 goals a season. Easton – harsh but I don’t think he’s up to it. Some of his crosses were whipped in with quality, but he doesn’t seem to read attacks down the flanks as someone of his position should, and he blazed three good chances into the gods – the sidefoot from the edge of the area into the Rainham End displayed the sort of technique that should have been coached out of him when he was 8 years old. And Flynn – either he played above his level under Ternant or he’s woefully underperformed since. He was largely anonymous and fluffed the easiest chance of all.
With all those issues scoring goals, we need a solid defence and clearly we haven’t got it. The two we conceded on half time were pathetic. You can blame Jupp’s lack of pace and Cox’s doziness, but Sancho is a defensive liability. Don’t get me wrong, I love him for all his well-documented qualities and he was cheered off at the end, but all his good work was achieved charging around like a lunatic in the opposition half, chasing a game that our defensive ineptitude had already thrown away. He needs to take more responsibilty at the back. Randolph will learn to command his defence and certainly shouldn’t be singled out for stick, and he kept us in it with three outstanding second half saves – even as we bumbled around trying to recover it was the opposition he carved out the killer chances, including a four-on-one which Randolph kept out after Jupp was caught out again.
And the crowd? The side were deservedly booed off at half time – the performance had been acceptable but the defining defensive lapses were a disgrace. We rallied them as best we could for the opening fruitless onslaught in the second half and then it happened – the Rainham End turned ugly on Scally and from what I understand this was replicated elsewhere. An issue that has always left the supporters divided and it’s being debated elsewhere, but the fact remains that no-one shouted us down this time. Scally has had way longer than he could reasonably have expected without audible protest, it’ll be interesting to see how he reacts. The displays on the pitch have brought it to the fore but finally even those who appreciate everything he’s done in the last ten years – through whatever means – have snapped on realising that we’re headed in full circle, but this time we’ll reach our destination with our debt well over ten times the size it was when he took over. And looking around – the vacant seats, the sparse catering huts, the empty vending machines, the lack of sales staff, the electricity being cut off, the server crashing the ticket system, the match action pages in the programme with no match action – off the field it’s as shambolic as our attempts to defend a corner. The demand is no longer “Sort it out Scally!” – it’s become “Get out Scally and let someone else sort it out…”.
Champagne Moment: The first “We want Scally out!” chants which caught on – a defining moment? Whether champagne is an appropriate tipple depends on what happens next…
The Morty Vicker