Saturday 1 September – Gills 2-1 Walsall
In management and programme speak, the “Super Gills” got their season up and running, there’s lots of optimism that we’ll push on from here and all the off-the-field successes will start to be reflected on the pitch at the KRBS Priestfield Stadium. In reality that’s far from the truth, but it’s a relief to post the first points of the season, even if it was simply by edging an encounter that didn’t exactly ooze class against another very poor side.
The fact of the matter is that we are where we are. The transfer deadline has passed, we haven’t got the budget to bring in more players so we’re stuck with the side we put out against The Saddlers. Some of us were caught in a dilemma of actually wanting us to lose to put another nail in Jepson’s coffin, but Scally is notoriously reluctant to sack managers (Hess, Cooper…), partly because we can’t afford to pay anyone off and partly because he plainly doesn’t like doing it (not that his affection for Jepson is likely to run anywhere near as deep as it did for Hess). So Jepson is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
On the bright side, some things were better. The return of Mulligan, obviously. Southall pushing forward was an improvement. Even Facey looked a bit sharper at times, though he has a tendancy to make some baffling runs. Royce kept us in it at times, including a staggering one-handed save onto the post at the end of the first half.
But the pace of the side – Christ, Mullers was the speediest of anyone in blue! Our overlapping attacks were practically going backwards. To say Armstrong is not as nippy as he was during his first spell is a staggering understatement – the thought of a fullback partnership with Jupp would give us more balance only in having two immovable lumps in the back four. Cox – bless him : three errors of judgement or control in ten seconds led to a lunge and a booking. And the standard levels of fitness – players were collapsing alarmingly with cramp throughout the second half. And the defending in general….the goal was result of a mis-kick and a sharper opposition forward line would have secured a result for Walsall by capitalising on the times our back four were pulled all over the place.
The fact that all this was played out in front of our lowest home crowd for many many years – 1996/97? – is evidence of the current disillusionment. But let’s be grateful for the points, hope Mulligan stays fit, pray that the little improvements continue, assume the first victory will instill a bit of belief and be thankful that we’re not Walsall fans. By all means call me a grumpy sod (I’m on anti-biotics and haven’t had a beer for a fortnight) but I haven’t changed my opinion that the season is going to be anything other than a hard slog. And I didn’t get my free sticker book with the programme (22,000 produced yet they run out inside the stadium despite under 5,000 in attendance)…..
In a game littered with attrocious errors (throw ins going up in the air or straight out of play, clearances sliced into Gordon Road, routine passes being played into touch) it has to be Mullers’ brace. A goal-scoring return which will have struck fear into the good people at Elland Road as mighty Leeds try to get off the bottom of the table…
The Morty Vicker