Saturday 10th March – Gills 1-0 Crewe Alexandra
Our determined limp towards the 52 point safety mark continues, and while we’d still be perfectly capable of lurching back into trouble given the number of crunch games against clubs below us in the table coming up, you’ve got to fancy our chances. In truth it was a pretty awful game and we were fortunate that the visitors were missing their leading scorer, leaving us up against an oaf called Higden and Rodney Jack who looked a shadow of his former irritating best. But thank you for the three points.
Defensively we looked much better organised again, though Crewe certainly had their chances in the first half, one of which brought a brilliant save from Messieur Larrieu. Leon Johnson continued to do the simple things well, the full backs looked solid and while Sancho lollopped all over the place under the impression he was playing five-a-side, his presence when he stayed put was effective. I’d still have played Chorley, but there you go.
Our attacking options are still decidedly limited, and we failed to get behind the Crewe defence until late in the game. Naturally we are missing Jarvis, but we’ve got to learn to play without him – we’re in danger of relying on him in the same way we did on Akinbiyi in 1997/98, which makes us rather one-dimensional. Bentley is playing out of his skin at the moment and Crofts is getting more involved, but Spiller isn’t really adding anything new (which he should be) and Flynn’s passing remains woeful. As for the front two, it’s not really working though I like both of them and would like to see us persevere. They haven’t yet got an understanding – I’m sure I’m in the minority but I really rate McDonald. In my mind he’s the most skilful player in the club, can run at defences with intricate control and I think he’s a natural goal-scorer (he’s still only started 12 games, don’t forget). He just doesn’t fit comfortably into our pattern of play particularly well, and that’s when you can identify a pattern.
Flynn’s erratic contributions remain frustrating, but you can’t argue with his goals return this season, and the winner was another quality effort, not hit with real pace but it had the precision to beat the keeper’s flailing dive. I’d certainly settle for that, and it cheered everyone up in the sunshine. I’ve got no idea where the club’s heading on the field, but division wise I think we’re staying put.
It’s uplifting that some of the atmosphere created at the Blackpool game carried over to this one and it would be great if this could be sustained until the end of the season, the crowd lifting the players rather than sitting slumped in seats and yawning periodically, waiting for something to happen. We’ve got to amuse ourselves somehow. Of course at the Rainham End we’re up against that humourless charmer “Lead Steward” who’s latest wheeze is to wade in to areas where people are enjoying a sing-song, cart them off for a talking to and then let them back, suitably admonished. It always creates unnecessary aggro when no problem exists, and quite frankly I’d love to see someone shove his power-encrusted natty yellow jacket up his arse.
Another beauty from Flynn, followed by the news that the bottom six had all lost.