Sunday 3 December – Bristol City 4 – 3 Gills
Well this was always going to be a tough assignment, away to a team that had already put nine goals past us at Ashton Gate in two previous visits in 2006. The defending didn’t get any better either. It was a weird atmosphere really, more than 400 Gills made the trip for a one o’clock kick-off on a Sunday, because of Bristol Rovers having their turn at picking first when fixtures clash, but barely 5,000 City fans could be bothered to stir their stumps, 6,000 down on the League game… the “magic of the Cup” eh
With a subdued home support it was left to the 412 Gills in the crappy old away shed to crank up the volume “This is the best trip I’ve ever been on” – but the players failed to show the same commitment to the cause except for Jack. As with previous encounters it was all pretty open, with Chorley unavailable (gulp) we were left with the less than reassuring duo of Sancho and Johnson at the back… it was soon a shambles because, well because they simply aren’t up to the job.
We’d already survived a scare after a blatant handball in the box by
Easton but the officials took pity on us. It proved to be only a temporary reprieve because on 21 minutes Jeavons scored. The assist has to go to Jupp though who endured his worst game ever in a Gills shirt. A long simple diagonal ball caught Jupp out, he allowed the ball to drop over his head to Jeavons, who neatly controlled the ball before neatly sidestepping some ponderous last ditch lunge by the wretched full-back before coolly slamming the ball past the unprotected and flat footed JackSeven minutes later and it all looked over for Jack, a sickening clash with a City player left him prostrate on the floor. With no keeper on the bench Bentley donned the jersey only for the Gills keeper to finally resurface, groggy but determined to play on. After a lengthy delay we resumed with Jack unsteadily protecting our goal.
The game was all but over before the break, on 44 minutes more suicidal defending of a grimly comical sort by Brent Laurel and Leon Hardy saw Sancho scuff an easy clearance back towards his own goal straight at Johnson who duly let it bobble off his shins before it fell to Jeavons to simply kick into the net. In the added Jack injury time Leon Johnson decided to leave the only City attacker in the area completely unmarked so that when the ball came in Jeavons was free to complete the easiest hat-trick of his life. The Gills fans were left shell shocked and bitterly angry with the so-called “defence”. The so-called professionals should have hung their heads in shame.
Clearly Ronnie had words at half time (presumably of the four letter variety) because they came out a transformed team in the second period. For twenty minutes the Gills tore into their opponents, on 49 minutes the ball was crossed in, headed back across the face of the goal to Mulligan who duly controlled the loose ball before hooking it in via the near post for his first ever goal away from home. He nearly had a second moments later (deflected wide) as City wobbled, Basso denied Flynn but all the hard work was undone on 64 minutes. City counter attacked, the defence did their startled rabbit act with Sancho doing his “stand still in the wrong spot” trick, Russell crossed the spherical object into the, it goes without saying, UNFUCKINGMARKED Showunmi to slam home.
Game over again… or was it?Easton’s cross being met by Flynn’s head before looping slowly into the roof of the net. It looked like we ran out of steam for a bit after that, City got on top again, Jack was forced to deny Myrie–Williams in a one-on-one (no really, he was left unprotected by his supposed colleagues), before the most stupefyingly bad defending of the season so far – which really is saying something!!! Basically Lee Johnson ran at our centre backs, they were in front of him, he ran in a straight line from the centre circle they were on a collision course but Sancho and Johnson did the decent thing, one exited stage left, the other stage right leaving a huge gaping gap down the middle which he duly took (the shortest route to goal and all that) before carelessly slamming the ball against the post with the goal at his mercy. Jack then denied Myrie-Williams again but at the other end the Gills started cranking up the pressure to ensure a grandstand finale. In the 90th minute a soft push on Johnson saw the Gills awarded a penalty that Flynn duly dispatched with the minimum of fuss. 4-3 – with three minutes of added time to go. We roared the team forward, even Jack came up, we had two chances, one Bentley skied, the other saw Mulligan miss a hard and low Jarvis cross by inches. 4-4 would have seen the away end dissolve into shin gashing anarchy but it was not to be. A magnificent game for any neutral, but one that saw us deservedly lose. You can’t defend like that and donate decent opponents several goals and hope to get a result. Sancho, Johnson, Eason and Jupp were not fit to wear the shirts on a crazy afternoon.
All that was left of our day out in Bristol was to wish the worst possible draw on City (they got Coventry at home) and on the coach back try to keep a straight face as some of the more vociferous juvenile supporters wound up Peter Lloyd, unsuited to the role of stern headmaster on a school trip from hell. One fan was even publicly “dumped” by his girlfriend for no apparent reason amid the childish banter which meant that he probably felt like the Gillingham defence on a day to forget
Champagne Moment Lee Johnson’s amazing miss. With our central defenders having gone walkabout, unmarked, the goal at his mercy, a fifth goal a formality, he went for power rather than precision and nearly broke the goalpost.