Saturday 24th February – Scunthorpe United 3-1 Gills
Even taking into account the need to acknowledge that there is a new world order – Scunthorpe ARE top of League One and Gillingham aren’t perhaps quite as good as we’ve been accustomed to over much of the last 10 years – it’s important to realise that we shouldn’t have expected anything from this fixture. It was still all a bit sad, but it was actually a cracking game full of chances at both ends and thankfully a vastly improved performance. We created more chances than in any away game since Leyton Orient, and the home side were considerably better than anything you’d see at Brisbane Road.
After a very pleasant hour or so in The Honest Lawyer pub – proof that there is life in Scunthorpe, great beer and food and very friendly natives – we scuttled off for what is generally assumed to be the crap bit of the day, ie, the football. Despite the atrocities of the last couple of outings, I was pleased to see we’d kept an unchanged side. As far as I can see, it’s our best line-up and tinkering isn’t going to help – we need some stabability. I was a bit surprised to hear the retired Alan Pouton named as sub – figured this was a friendly gesture to neighbouring Grimsby so they could come and have a look at him, such were the rumours of an imminent move to Blundell Park. But no, just a cock-up by the tannoy announcer.
We somehow weathered the first five minutes when we could easily have fallen a couple behind, but once we got our act together we took the game to the league leaders and should have gone in level at the interval. Bentley in particular was having a stormer, Jarvis was making the most of having just the one player marking him and Flynn should have scored with a header from five yards right on half time. He’s an annoying sod – we know he can perform to far greater standards and his passing and decision making were careless again, but he can still be relied on to get on the end of what few moves we do string together. Though, the long throws – do they ever work? Maybe in training when you’re up against our own defence….
Scunthorpe led, however, that lump Hinds nodding home via a deflection before the half hour mark. That git has scored eight times for Scunthorpe, four times against us. Bastard. Scunthorpe didn’t necessarily look like world beaters but they were a tidy side and broke phenomenally quickly, something we never got to grips with. Our defence does look a lot more organised and committed, the issue now remains the individual lapses, of which the entire back four are all prone. Plus it’s a pity that we haven’t got two Southalls, we could do with him further forward.
In the second half we created a hatful of clearcut chances, and following the equaliser Jarvis missed two clear cut opportunities and we hit the bar late on having forced corner after corner. The problem was the sending off. Beckford went down way too easily, but Chorley had got himself on the wrong side of his man and once a foul was given a red card was inevitable. Guess he learned the “grapple to the deck” manoeuvre off Ian Cox. As we silently fumed, the double whammy came when Mulligan curled home the resultant free-kick brilliantly. Wish our Mulligan could do that.
Shortly afterwards we lost Jarvis through injury but still we pressed forward. Some viewed the introduction of Sancho as damage-limitation idiocy by Jepson, but to me it was the only option. We would have fallen apart if we didn’t re-jig the defence, and we showed ourselves capable of creating chances despite the numerical deficit. Scunthorpe understandably continued to apply pressure, but the game wasn’t closed down until the late clincher when we were pressing for an equaliser.
Back to the Honest Lawyer for hard luck greetings from the home fans and a bit of rugby. It’s all too easy to be depressed about everything at the moment. Scally’s a tit and we’re sliding down the league, but in the short term our destiny is in our own hands and if we play like this for the rest of the season I stick by my views after the Northampton game….it’s not going to be pretty, but we’ll survive.
Quick word about the crowd. Firstly the home support – little over 5000 is pitiful for a side riding so high and threatening the upper echelons for the first time since 1964. And they were bloody quiet. Maybe they just can’t believe it. As for the Gills, our away record over the last four seasons has resulted in our travelling support dwindling to current levels – just 170, surely the lowest at a Saturday fixture for years, probably since the early 90s. Some make an effort to drum up some enthusiasm. Most sit in resigned doldrums. And increasingly there are a number of numpties who seem to think regaling home fans with kids with chants relating to paedophiles is big and clever. Swearing and ranting and blathering incoherently is fine by me, but this is just pathetic. Maybe when more were travelling the more brain-dead obnoxious twats were lost in the crowd, but then again there was one long term regular arch twat who was being more of a nob than usual, and he didn’t need a bright yellow shirt to stand out. Judging by the permanent gurning grin on his face he actually thinks he’s funny.
Probably the time in the pub, but that would be harsh given that for once an away day was ruined by the result but not the performance.
The Morty Vicker