Tuesday 2 October – Gills 3 – 1 Leyton Orient
So come on then, how many thought that we’d snaffle a total of four points from the visits of Dirty Leeds and the O’s? Hmmm, as many as that? I commend your optimism sir!
Leyton Orient arrived in the uncharacteristic position of League leaders, boasting four consecutive away wins from the season’s start. Gills supporters could only gaze on enviously, given that we haven’t won that many away games in a season for many a long year!
It became quickly evident that this was the best Orient side to visit Priestfield since dinosaurs ruled the earth, or possibly even longer. They attacked quickly, in numbers and with purpose, and threatened the Gills goal on a number of occasions early doors.
At the other end, however, they were not quite so impressive. With ex-Brentford dodgy keeper Stuart Nelson between the sticks and a general inability to defend set pieces, there always seemed to be the chance that a goal would be forthcoming at either end. In the event it was the Gills who broke the deadlock, the erstwhile unimpressive David Graham unleashing a 25 yard screamer which fairly flew into the bottom corner.
It must be admitted that the O’s missed several guilt edged chances with the score at 1-0 – not helped by centre forward Adam Boyd, who seemed more intent on wingeing and waving his arms about than trying to shoot. Or maybe he’d been watching footage of the Leeds front two from Saturday. Four minutes after the break the Gills doubled their advantage, Delroy Facey doing superbly well to muscle his way around the back and send a low cross to the far post, where Graham converted nonchalantly.
The game continued to ebb and flow, with the visitors creating a missing a number of chances, and the Gills looking to play on the break. Orient were certainly winning the midfield battle, but for the most part Sodje and Cox stood firm at the back, whilst Simon Royce pulled of a number of decent stops.
With 25 minutes to go Trigger’s cross from the right eluded everyone and was chested home by Barry Cogan for 3-0. The celebrations were soon tempered by thoughts of our last visit to Brisbane Road, when a 3-0 lead evaporated in the final quarter of an hour. Such worries increased when Ibehre pulled a goal back with nearly 20 to go, but fortunately we navigated the final minutes (including 4 minutes added time) to notch an excellent victory.
The players left the field to their second standing ovation in 4 days. So what has changed? For the most part the answer is simple – the players have gone out and given it their all. Surely no-one will be fooled that we have a promotion chasing team – the lack of pace, mobility and quality throughout is still clear for all to see. However, good organisation and a team who are fully committed can cover a multitude of sins.
Against Leeds and Orient we saw players who genuinely appeared to be up for the battle – and the faithful responded to that. The most pleasing aspect of the two games has been the return of a genuine atmosphere to Priestfield. The post match scenes seemed to signal the beginning of a bond forming between players and supporters – something that has probably been missing since Stan Ternent’s brief reign.
The team has been mentally and physically strong against decent opposition twice in quick succession on their own ground – now they have to prove they can repeat the trick away from home. If they go to Swindon and play in the same manner of the other away games so far a lot of the goodwill is going to quickly disappear. Time to stand up and be counted.
Champagne Moment:- Well personally I enjoyed the moment Trigger booted the ball down the line and almost took the linesman’s head off, but David Graham’s two goals were quite good as well.