Saturday 10 February – Gills 1 – 0 Bradford
Just in case we were in for another lacklustre encounter, Paul Scally decided to provide us with some pre-match entertainment in the shape of his programme notes. Anyone who thought the Gills Chairman was about to launch a charm offensive following his midweek announcements that he was lifting the life ban on Alan Liptrott (something he once said would happen `over my dead body`) and organising another fans forum, proved to be sadly mistaken on picking up the programme and delving into Scally’s two page rant.
Clearly, after over a decade of being largely shielded from sniping and abuse, our head honcho has been more than a little rattled by the actions of what he had labelled the `We want Scally Out Brigade`. Welcome to the real world Paul. Scally’s advice to members of this select club was `if you can’t hack it the way it is, then best get off the train and we’ll do it without you`. Never had him down as a trainspotter.
The game itself was pretty unspectacular, but largely dominated by the Gills in a not actually tearing the opposition apart sort of way, particularly after the visitors had a player somewhat harshly dismissed for a second yellow before half time. It was deep into first half stoppage time when the deadlock was broken, Leon Johnson stooping to head home at the far post after the Nicky Southall’s long shot had been tipped over by the keeper.
The much maligned Gills defence put in as solid a performance as they have all season (which is admittedly not saying much). Leon Johnson has fully merited his inclusion ahead of the twin accidents waiting to happen Ian Cox and Brent Sancho, and together with Ben Chorley has formed a partnership in the centre of defence that at least gives some semblance of knowing what they are doing. Meanwhile, with Trigger at right back and Danny Jackman at left back, joined by easily the best keeper we have used this season (how many is it now, I lost count about November time) in Romain Larrieu, we actually have a backline that doesn’t induce anxiety attacks and the overwhelming desire to hide under your seat every time the opposition attack.
The second half was almost totally one way traffic (to the extent that the Bradford fans celebrated wildly when they won a corner with about 5 to go), but we frustratingly refused to make the most of the numerous attacking situations that came our way. Second half subsitutions had left us with a progressive looking forward line of Ndumbu Nsungu, McDonald and Jarvis, but somehow they failed to play the right pass or make the right decisions.
In truth, Bradford never looked like scoring, but as well all know, it only takes a second to score a goal. Fortunately the final whistle bought relief all round, and avoided the prospect of Rocket Ronnie having to utter the immortal `it’s never easy against 10 men` in his post match interview.
Champagne Moment:- The Gills Chairman has obviously twigged that everyone laughs when he mentions ITV Digital, so referred to it as `the events of March 2002` in his column. Now it’s going to be a bugger to fit that into a chant.