Saturday 25 November – Gills 1-0 Rotherham United
This pleasing win against a talented Rotherham side took our home run to four consecutive victories. That the visitors have taken only a third of the season to overturn their 10 point handicap is evidence enough that they are a talented outfit, and we struggled to contain them throughout the first half. However a number of outstanding individual performances – particularly from Jupp (surely his best performance in a Gills shirt) and Bentley, and with Crofts returning to something like his Championship form – greater defensive stabability and a lot more attacking ideas, we just about shaded it with an assured second half display.
The defence suddenly appear to be less susceptible to lumps over the top. Maybe that’s because Rotherham weren’t playing lumps over the top, but Chorley has undoubtedly made a difference, taking control and showing the sort of decision making the lethally dithering combination of Cox and Johnson were never capable of. And while I still remain to be convinced by the all-round contribution of Kelvin Jack (he seems to be the classic “shot-stopper” which hints at other flaws in his game) he brings an authority way beyond anything our previous loanees could provide.
Meanwhile up front I really hope McDonald is given a run in the side. We got behind Rotherham countless times in the second period, and a lot of it is down to his intelligent touches and vision (some of it even in the air, where he wins more than he has any right to). Coupled with the hard working Mulligan it gives us other options even when Jarvis is snaffled out of the game. Fortuntately Rotherham never got to grips with Jarvis – who was given a great reception which is never guaranteed when Scally is involved in heated negotiations over one of our stars’ futures – and he made the most of the acres of space he was afforded. He laid Mulligan’s goal on a plate, could have had a couple himself, repeatedly skinned the full-back in classic full pelt sprints and it was a huge shame that his lay off to Deano didn’t quite produce the clinching goal. Rotherham were in such disarray by the end that they resorted to comically heading the ball over keeper Cutler to concede unnecessary corners.
Referee Singh had a controversial game – I think he’s one of the better officials at this level but he was overly fussy all afternoon. The big decisions marginally went our way – he denied McDonald a penalty (I thought it should have been given but the contact was on the blind side), but he gave Jarvis the benefit of the doubt with a shove in the build-up to the goal, and disallowed a late equaliser when Jack flapped at a cross (shortly before our keeper made an outstanding late block to preserve the points).
Ronnie still gets it wrong on occasions, but when you think that it’s almost exactly a year since the calamity at Burscough and the 5-0 humiliation at Layer Road, it’s clear we’ve come a long way. Despite the defensive frailty and the lack of consistency, the games are generally entertaining and there’s room for optimism on the pitch at least….
For those who saw it, the clumsy arse who fell a over t onto the running track while attempting to head the ball back from the Medway Stand takes the prize. Margate Mat claims he was pushed….
The Morty Vicker