Saturday 21 October Brentford 2 – 2 Gillingham
I had bad vibes about this day from the moment I was caught in a deluge en route to the station and was left with sopping wet jeans, soggy socks and a jacket that was several times the weight it had been when I put it on and in desperate need of wringing out. I seriously considered turning around and going home. My mood was not exactly improved by finding myself standing in at the end of the platform five minutes later in bright sunshine, muttering darkly and gently steaming.
Things improved in the Magpie and Crown pub, ten minutes walk from Griffin Park. It served a memorable combination of Belgian beer (presented by a stressed fat bloke, who was without his barmaid for the day as she had apparently been out and got pissed the night before) and Thai food (presented by several rather more attractive and less stressed ladies). So by the time we left for the game my mood had been improved by a nice beer, nice food, and the fact that I had now progressed from sodden to merely a little damp.
The news that the team was without the injured-in-training Matt Jarvis went down like the proverbial lead balloon with the faithful assembled. Your best player being absent in normal circumstances is obviously not a good thing, but when the team is so very heavily reliant on him it is tantamount to disaster. I can’t remember an individual being so embarrassingly better than his teammates since Gavin Peacock extravagantly outshone the doomed 88-89 team.
After 20 odd minutes the sun was shining and all was right with the world. Twinkle toed Gary Mulligan skipped gaily into the six yard box and went down under a challenge from keeper Clark Masters. Penalty! Red card! They have no reserve keeper on the bench! While the majority of the two teams slugged it out on the far touchline in a heated debate over the correctness (or otherwise) or the decision(s), Mike Flynn and Guylain Ndumbu Nsungu were having their own personal battle over who was going to take the spot kick. Flynn (who is captain mark you) attempted to wrestle the ball away from Geeee, who seem determined that it was his ball and he was jolly well going to keep it. Flynn finally got possession of the ball as the Brentford keeper completed his walk of shame. He confidently slotted his spot kick past the stand in custodian.
At the time, it was difficult to see whether the ref got it right, but having viewed it on TV since there are several points that probably need discussing
- If there was any contact it was minimal
- Mulligan went down so late he was in danger of falling over after the ref had blown for half time
- There was a defender on the line, so the keeper was therefore not the last man
- Does Gary Mulligan with the ball at his feet six yards out technically constitute a goalscoring opportunity?
But anyway – 1-0 up playing against 10 men with no proper goalkeeper – what could possibly go wrong? Three words – THE, GILLINGHAM and DEFENCE. I’m not even going to bother describe how we contrived to find ourselves 2-1 down at the break. I will merely comment that the current backline represents the poorest Gillingham defence I have witnessed in my 34 years as a supporter. There is not one of them I would want in the team. In fact, I don’t care if I never see any of them pull on a Gills shirt ever ever again. They are utterly utterly useless. They can’t defend for toffee. They are pants. Rubbish. Clueless, slow, dim-witted donkeys.
So anyway, we had 45 minutes to get back into it, and Oh My God did we make hard work of it or what! We simply failed to test Brentford’s stand in keeper until the last 20 minutes. A side sans Jarvis proved that they can’t cross to save their lives and just do not have the first clue how to open up a resolute defence.
So Mike Flynn finally managed to level things up with a well taken goal 15 minutes from time – but no-one was fooled into thinking that this was a point gained. This was another two points carelessly tossed away by general sloppiness and lack of bottle. I didn’t applaud them at the end, they didn’t deserve it.
That cheery little period when we led and their stand in keeper looked as though he was ready to let in anything that was on target.