Saturday 2 February – Gills 0 -0 Cheltenham
Let’s for a moment pretend we are a football manager and analyse this result in terms of ‘looking for the positives’. Well, the main one I would say is that we kept another clean sheet. On the face of it that might not seem a major achievement at home to a side immediately below us in the table, but it is worth considering that since Mark Stimson took charge we have shipped goals at a a smidgen over one per game. Okay, so that is not reach for the record books time – it doesn’t exactly compare with the legendary Pulis inspired 95-6 defence that conceded a miserly 20 in 46 games – but given the fact that throughout Rocket Ronnie Jepson’s stewardship we were letting them in at a rate of two per game (and I don’t even want to sit and work out what rate we were conceding during away matches) it does represent something of an achievement. In fact, I would say that a backline of Royce, Fuller, Nutter, Bygrave and King is probably the most solid looking defence we’ve had since the legendary Pennock – Ashby – Butters axis strode the Priestfield turf.
So let’s assume that Stimson has got the defence sorted (no doubt we will now ship 6 or 7 in the next match) and turn our attentions to the rest of the team. Hmmmm… work to be done here methinks. The midfield continues to underachieve – Andrew Crofts really has had a poor season, and the lack of a regular set up has not helped us. Jepson’s signings Aaron Brown and Barry Cogan have just not done it – Cogan is too lightweight and does not put in a full shift by any means, whilst Brown… well, sorry mate, but you just ain’t good enough. That’s the door over there, with the big signed marked EXIT. I think it is fair to say that the jury is still out on Stuart Thurgood – it appears you mostly either love him or hate him, and some alarming tales of his idea of `banter` the BMH collective heard recently would suggest the same might also be true of is teammates. Mark Bentley, meanwhile, has continued to put in his usual reliable performances, but has probably failed to match the standard he set last season. The brightest spark in the midfield is probably Windy Miller, but he often undoes his good work by trying the difficult option instead of the obvious one, or simply falling over too much.
If you ignore the on loan exploits of the much missed (and now injured) Chris Dickson, you can discover all you need to know about our forward line by from the fact that the top scorer has 5 goals. We all know Gary Mulligan will give you 100% lung bursting effort every game but that can never entirely mask the fact that he is a limited player in many ways. And Delroy Facey – well we have been pretty much accused of waging some kind of vendetta against him, and maybe some people think he is great, I don’t know. But let’s be brutally honest here, Mr Facey is a totally average player. Far from the worst striker we have seen, but he is just not the answer (not unless the question is `Who has the biggest calves in football? anyway). Facey has never scored more than 10 goals in a season throughout his 11 year career, and he is not about to start now.
So what of £150,000 signing Simeon Jackson? Well, according to some press reports he had a nightmare debut and missed a hatful of chances. I have to say that is not how I remember it. Yes he missed a couple of chances, but he also looked pacey, sharp and made lots of intelligent runs (which not so intelligent teammates failed to take advantage of!) There was enough there in his first 90 minutes to suggest that young Simeon can bring something different to the team.
Well, I seem to have written a 700 word match report without actually mentioning the match! Just take a gander at the scoreline – it really tells you all you need to know.
Champagne Moment:- The jelly beans at half time were quite nice.