Saturday 16 December – Gills 1-1 Bournemouth
Another odd afternoon at Priestfield against our old chums from Dorset ended in joy as this wasn’t a game we could afford to lose. Bournemouth’s first away victory of the season would have seen us more likely to be sucked into the relegation quagmire rather than trouble the top of the table, and with the looming fear that Jarvis is going to be flogged in a couple of weeks we really need to be putting as many points on the board while we have the chance.
No-one can deny that we didn’t deserve at least a point, such was the pummelling Moss’s goal took in the second half, but yet again a defensive calamity let us down. If our central defenders cannot deal with a simple hoof down the middle then they might as well give up. It seems to be dawning on Brill that he hasn’t exactly got a reassuringly protective back-line – I’d go as far as saying that, in current form, only Jackman of the back four is up to the required standard. Cox is simply making too many mistakes with positioning and decision-making, Sancho is ill-disciplined and goes walkabout way too often and Jupp is steady but slow. As a unit, it still isn’t working, with no-one taking responsibility and the marking anything from wayward to non-existent. I can’t understand why Chorley was on the bench.
After recent performances, Spiller and Pouton must wonder what it’ll take to claim a place in the side, and the former helped galvanise this display after a worryingly lacklustre first half where we again showed absolutely no urgency. I missed the first 20 minutes after some dick threw his (or her) self under a train at Meopham, but what I did witness seemed to last an eternity. Our one chance came following a neat turn by Guylain, shooting narrowly wide. He seems to have the ability but not much clue how to use it, and after another disappointing outing he was rightly withdrawn at half time.
The second period belonged to Neil Moss, who made three outstanding saves, while Jupp hit the bar and Bentley should have done better with a downward header. As ever, the most effective attacks emenated from Jarvis, his ability to skin an opponent over as little as 10 yards still staggers me. Bournemouth – missing old boys Claridge and Browning but fielding the ineffective Anderton – could have clinched it late on, twice hitting the post with the Gills stretched at the back. Those misses cost them dear, as they failed to attack a last ditch corner, allowing Crofts to charge in and power home one of his trademark headers from close range. They looked gutted. Shame.
In a magnanimous moment I have to nominate Moss’s save from Jarvis. Matty did brilliantly to cut in from the right, beating two defenders and seemed certain to score, but his thunderous drive was tipped over the bar by the short-sleeved custodian. Fantastic football all round.
The Morty Vicker