Tuesday 6 November – Gills 1 -1 Doncaster
The Mark Stimson era began in earnest on a night of high drama at Priestfield, which was rather sadly played out in front of just over 5000 people. Pre-match the new Gills boss had been making all the right noises, talking of the need for better fitness, and his intention to get the side playing decent football. It was to prove a stern test for his new charges, visitors Doncaster playing a brand of fast moving, passing football, which was easy on the eye and gosh darned worrying at the same time. Exactly, I would suggest, the style of football to which we should aspire.
It was quickly noticeable that even though Stimson had little time to work on his team, there was a clear difference in the style of play. About the most generous/non-rude description you could have given to Jepson’s Gills was `ponderous`. On this night we were clearly attempting to move the ball quicker and with far more purpose. This, together with Donny’s fluid style, led to an open and thoroughly entertaining game of football.
Fortunately, Simon Royce continued where he left off at Swansea, producing a blinding display, which, together with some profligate finishing from the visiting forwards kept their tally to a single goal (from, it must be said, a contentious penalty) when they created enough clear cut chances to notch half a dozen. The Gills, meanwhile, also had chances of their own. The most notable of these was Delroy Facey’s penalty miss. The boy Facey opted for the old ‘hit the fucker as hard as you can` routine, but sadly his effort smacked back into play from the middle of the crossbar (which is possibly still shaking at this moment!). It seemed to be in vogue to send shots skidding inches past the post – both sides managed this at least a couple of times each in the first half. The Gills did take the lead through another excellent goal from Chris Dickson – clearly a player of no little ability (I wonder if Charlton will notice if we just forget to return him) whilst Doncaster had an effort ruled out for offside – which brings us nicely to the subject of the officials.
The Gordon Road side linesman and referee (Mr Keith Hill, he of the withered arm) really should go on stage as a comedy duo (suggested name Clueless and Fuckwit). The Linesman, who I shall hereinafter refer to as Clueless to avoid confusion, had a grasp of the offside law with can, at best, be described as tenuous. It really was quite extraordinary to witness his random approach to flag waving, which exhibited no discernible pattern. Often you get linesman who are swayed by big nasty defenders shouting and gesticulating, or simply adopting the ‘He looks like he is clear so he must be offside` approach, but Clueless did neither. In fact, he seemed to sway between the two like Peter Snow’s swingometer on a busy election night.
And as for Fuckwit, well, I just don’t know what to say. Now this is cruel I know, and definitely not PC, but a lot of this night was taken up with numerous supporters yelling various insults relating to Fuckwit’s disability (which, despite evidence to the contrary, turned out not to be blindness). It really was an extraordinary display of refereeing, where two footed lunges went unpunished, whilst free kicks were constantly awarded for seemingly non- existent offences. The classic example came late on when Delroy Facey was practically sliced in two on the edge of the box – nothing given, and the ball broke into midfield, where Aaron Brown committed the merest hint of the daintiest touch on an opposition player, and was promptly booked.
Despite the officials best efforts, they failed to ruin a fascinating 90 minutes. Yes, we got the runaround for long periods, yes Donny probably should have scored about 4, yes we have got a limited team. But this was most definitely a point gained, and the early signs that Mark Stimson may be able to make a difference are there. Ronnie Jepson’s team would undoubtedly have folded miserably in the same circumstances.
Champagne Moment:- Aaron Brown’s tackle which ended with him appearing to attempt and diving header three inches off the ground in front of a flailing boot. Don’t try this at home!