Time to shape up…

16 February – Northampton Town 4-0 Gills 

Holy mothering fuck, this was an absolute shocker. I’ve defended Stimson and will continue to do so as I still think our chances of relegation have improved from “inevitable” to “likely” during the transition from Ronnie to Mark, but this was absolutely appalling, as bad as anything we saw under Jepson at the start of the season (though maybe not quite as pathetic as the Swindon and Forest games). Another frightful clobbering, against a strong and energetic but hardly inspirational opposition, and a capitulation which was downright embarrassing by the end.

Forgetting my coat didn’t put me in the best of moods on an abruptly chilly afternoon, but pre-match there seemed to be a little (clearly misplaced) optimism. Stimson’s name was chanted during the warm up and there was a real rallying cry from the off. We looked a little ragged in the early stages, and showed little up front, but Northampton gradually took a grip on proceedings and Royce was forced into a couple of fine saves to keep the game scoreless. The ball flashed across the face of goal alarmingly on a number of occasions but so far so good. Unfortunately, going forward there was absolutely no hope of nicking a goal. Oli was woeful, never showing any inclination to go past his markers through either pace or skill – he simply isn’t good enough. Miller drifted in and out of the game, and when he drifted in it was generally only to upset the largely mute home crowd with the odd “forward’s challenge” – his early booking meant he was on a tightrope throughout. Jackson looks useful but his team-mates aren’t yet on his wavelength, though they bloody well should have been in our one bright spot, an excellent driven cross that had more chance of being slid home by some tumbleweed than a supporting Gillingham player.

Oli compounded his ineptitude by being brushed off the ball on the edge of his own area to gift the Cobblers the opening goal. After seeing a similar bone-headed error by Cogan at Tranmere I demanded young Barry’s execution. Same for Dennis I’m afraid. Seconds later and Akinfenwa out-muscled our defence to nod home from close range and it was all over.

No changes at the break, and so no change on the pitch. It was all too easy for Akinfenwa to notch his second – no-one got tight though his finish was precise. He could so easily have played for us, and it was another one that got away who was running the show. Danny Jackman was outstanding in a free role in midfield – three times he made late runs into the box without our defence wising up, and only the offside flag denied him a goal. Meanwhile the Gills were caving in. The fourth came via a wicked deflection around the hour mark, the look on poor Royce’s face as it looped over his head suggested that he’d had enough. But he kept on until the end, making several spectacular saves as our defence was shredded time and again. Only our worthy keeper – surely the biggest shoe-in for player of the year since Gavin Peacock in 88/89 – and some spectacularly crud finishing by the home side kept the game in single figures. When Coke blazed the ball out of the ground despite having the entire penalty area to himself, he even got a sympathetic pat from the ref.

So what went wrong? I can’t be arsed to analyse it, but I’ll mention a couple of obvious ones. Nicky Southall – give up, mate. Great servant, great player, bloody useless now. New bloke Richards – I’ve seen enough already to suggest that he has the positional sense and awareness of Brent Sancho and the finesse of Brendan Plaice. Dennis Oli – jury’s no longer out, not good enough. Crofts and Thurgood – I think there’s only room for one in the side, and disappointing though Crofts has been this season, he’ll get the nod.

The result is that the side is shot of confidence and the support has lost faith. The wild celebrations when we finally had a futile shot on target says it all. There was some anti-Scally sentiment towards the end, but it’s black humour rather than anything vitriolic – the club might be spiralling out of control but he’ll come up smelling of roses. I still don’t think we’ll go down, but everything from Sixfields suggests that that’s a head-in-the-sand viewpoint.

Champagne Moment

It was all cold and shite. The Northampton dragon mascot thing forgetting to remove the netting while trying to release some pre-match balloons (which meant a giant balloon jelly-fish drifted into the freezing Northamptonshire countryside) was amusing, but hardly worthy of champagne.

The Morty Vicker

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24 Responses to Time to shape up…

  1. Bring Back Les Berry says:

    The sad fact is that if you give Bournemouth and Luton their points back, we’d be second bottom (and we lost at home to Vale!). And this is in a fairly mundane division.

    I’m afraid once again I abstained from watching the tossers away from home, but the three minutes on the Championship this morning and the last few home ‘performances’ leave me suspecting quite heavily that we’ll go down.

    Ho-hum. At least they’re not quite as bad as the class of ’88!

  2. Derek says:

    I know you couldn’t be arsed but I do like your analysesof matches but more particularly the players – they are sensible and in my view accurate – hoping the Gills management team are reading BMH! Though I would like to think that Stimmo has come to the same conclusions – the fact is, as I said a few weeks back, we lack quality.
    Delboy

  3. stavros85 says:

    I think our season has proven what a mediocre division we really are in. Utter rubbish at start then put in a few decent performances and play-offs are not inconceivable and then few defeats = relegation zone.

    Granted play-offs are a wild fantasy now but I would not be entirely surprised, given the nature of the division, if we fluke a 1-0/2-1 somewhere then win a few games in a row and then we will be going why on earth were we worrying. Or at least this is what I hope/preying for and wish this fluke would materialise sooner rather than later – I really don’t want to be in conundrum of do I trapse up to Leeds or revise for my final yr uni exams come the beginning of May.

  4. singingtheblues says:

    It was a truely awful performance, the only part of our team that had given me some hope was the defence, until Saturday when even the outstanding King and Bygrave looked hapless. I have no idea what was going on, Fuller and Nutter looked like they should have stayed in non-league, while the middle of our team was alarmingly opened up time and time again, usually by Jackman. This is even more concerning considering we were playing with 2 apparent “ball winning” Centre Midfielders in Thurgood and Crofts. I think the fans are slowly realising how crap Thurgood is, when everyone was chanting “Off, Off, Off” at him when he made a scything tackle for which he was booked. I think the critiscism of Richards is a little harsh considering we were 3 – 0 down when he came on, still puzzled why Griffiths makes the bench but Cogan and Facey were not even in the Squad!!! Less said about Southall and Oli the better, I for one think Miller is a useless “Prima-Donna”, yes he makes the odd telling run but usually his runs lead to nothing due to his poor end product, he spends the rest of the time falling over to easily or just running around like a headless chicken. I am reserving my judgement on Jackson until he gets a few games where he plays with a decent strike partner or gets some decent service, whether that happens this season is questionable. But the best Jackson has played is the first half on his debut where he was partnered by Delroy, yes I know Delroy has his knockers, but Jackson clearly likes playing with a target man who he can feed off and Delroy is our only striker who can win the ball aerially. Would also like to see Crofts and Bentley start in the middle of the pitch, its time for Stimson to start dropping some of his non-league imports because they are clearly not performing!!!!!!!! With the signing of Cullip I think Stimson may start playing 3 – 5 -2, anyway, never thought we would get relegated but starting to look a real possibility, considering we still have games coming up against the teams around us, Crewe, Luton, Millwall and Port Vale there should be some hope but unfortunately we seem to struggle against the so called lesser opposition. Really hope we don’t need to go to Elland Road and avoid defeat to stay up – God forbid the Swine relegate us at home in the penultimate game. Surely the only way is up?!?!?!

  5. SMF 10 says:

    Well we made Danny Jackman look like a world beater, this was the man we played at left back who was generally quite good but you wouldnt write home about him.

    For god sake Stimson give Jackson some support, when he eventually gets a chance he will probably miss cause he will be knackered after all of all the non productive running he has to do. I hoped that the reason he got the 2 new full backs in was because they might actually get down the wings and help get some crosses in but on that performance they seemed even less mobile than Armstrong.

    Sad hearing the supports chanting “off off” to thurgood. Not sure thats going to help. Also id love to know which game John Toshak saw Crofts play but its certainly not been any iv seen this season.

    Hopefully we can get an early goal this saturday and maybe the fans can get back behind the team because the last thing we all want is relegation.

  6. Johnny_the_Gill says:

    Stimson does cut a schizophrenic figure on the touchline and he does need to ease-up on Jackson.

    Do you remember when they showed the Meridiant football highlights from the Cheltenham game at Priestfield from 2 weeks back? He seemed motionless and apathetic when we nearly conceded a goal and then went beserk when Jackson was unlucky to miss a good chance- he seemed to mouth ‘Fucking hell Jackson you fucking idiot!’.

    Non-league players need time and patience to adjust to moving to a League 1 team, and that’s if they ever do make the transition but it appears he expects them to make the transition swiftly which is fundamentally wrong.

  7. Binman says:

    …or ship out!

    I’m a big fan of Stimson but would find it hard to defend anything about the shambles on Saturday except Royce was superb and the gallows humour from the fans wasn’t too vitriolic and spiteful, they did the conga instead.

    Need to get out act together pdq for the next two home games…

  8. Welshgill says:

    Derek’s quite right when he says we lack quality – it’s not so much the obviously bad ones (Oli, Thurgood) but player’s like Fuller who are crushingingly, disappointingly anonymous.

    The obvious thought here is that Stimson has signed too many non-league players and the majority of them are struggling to make the grade.

    That team on Saturday started with 7 of Stimson’s signings (Nutter, Bygrave, Fuller, Thurgood, Oli, Miller and Jackson) and yet this was as bad as watching Jepson’s teams efforts at the start of the season – Northampton had four, yes four, one-on-ones in the second half, failed to score any and yet still beat us 4-0!!!

    Northampton showed how to play to a system – two big men up front and plenty of long balls from the back/out wide/long throws (though to be fair Jackman provided creativity in the middle as well). It wasn’t particulary pretty but all the players looked as if they knew what their jobs were in contrast to our boys.

    Stimson needs to find a system that works – Miller behind Jackson doesn’t work because it leaves Jackson isolated and he ends up having to challenge for high balls which he has no hope of getting.

    All is not lost but Stimson had better fix the problems quickly or it’s League Two here we come….

  9. dean says:

    What a bad result- come on Gills!!!

  10. stavros85 says:

    Come on people – do you honestly think the team Stimson has put together is actually worse than anything Jepson put out? Yes the performance on Saturday was shocking but it is the first one under Stimson – how many did we have under Jepson/Onoura. Off the top of my head I can think of 3 (Southend, Forest away, Swindon). Add in the disappointing without being nightmarish performances, especially away from home, under RJ/IO and it is hard to conclude that Stimson hasn’t improved the team and the performances.

  11. singingtheblues says:

    I’m not sure how people can claim that we have improved under Stimson, I think the only real indicator can be our league position and clearly this has not improved what so ever!!! Prior to Saturday we may have been letting in a lot less goals away from home but we certainly have lost all creativity and Preistfield is no longer a place where we expect to pick up 3 points which it always was under Jippo and / or Iffy. People can berate me all they want for saying that but we are in the relegation zone FACT!!

  12. Loaf says:

    Look guys, we can argue untill the cows come home about wether we were better under jepson or stimson, the question is are we good enough to stay up? I’m not sure and even if the team is slightly better than the one he inherited if we go down stimson has failed. End of.

  13. Stevie Wonder says:

    Firstly… Jepson was shit…. Secondly….. Stimson is shit…. Thirdly…. Scally is shit…. Fourthly Onoura is the only way forward.

    Looking back on our results this season, we had our best run under Iffy, so i propose we should have a managerial team of Iffy and Hess. Im sure that would work wonders and think of all the songs we could come up with too… Iffy and Hess taking us up la la la!
    Failing that i think we should join the yoof of gate 14 and …. 3, 2, 1, LETS ALL HAVE A DISCO!

  14. Jon says:

    Onuora is the only way forward? Are you having a laugh? Couldn’t actually believe that I was hearing people say that on Saturday.

    Points away from home under Stimson? Eight.

    Points away from home under Onuora? Nil.

    Goals away from home under Stimson? 10.

    Goals away from home under Onuora? Nil.

    Hidings away from home under Stimson? One.

    Hidings away from home under Onuora? Two.

    Ok, so the home record hasn’t been as good, but anyone who cannot see a vast improvement in the way we play football and our passion (Saturday excluded) is clearly not going to games…

    I agree with the comments about Fuller above – he doesn’t look up to it yet, but it’s the centre of midfield which is the main concern… Both Crofts and Thurgood were absolutely pathetic on Saturday. Even if Crofts keeps his place (which he really doesn’t deserve to) he HAS to be stripped of the captaincy. It’s not doing him any good and it’s not doing the team any good either.

    At the end of the day, Stimson undertook a massive job when he came to the club. It may be even bigger than he thought it would be, in truth, but he has been backed in the transfer market and is probably not even halfway through a huge rebuilding job that will sort this club out, so to get rid of him now – or even in the next year – would be absolute madness. Jepson who was clearly incompetent from the outset was given nearly two years – having paid a six-figure compensation sum for Stimson, it would be somewhat stupid to get rid now.

    Looking at it, the three league games we were without Thurgood – Forest, Orient and Huddersfield – were probably our best performances under Stimson, so hopefully after Saturday’s horror show he will see the light and “rest” the former Grays man…

  15. stavros85 says:

    I agree that midfield isn’t quite firing at the moment so it probably is worth giving Lewis a few games in the side but which one do you drop – Crofts or Thurgood. I still think there is a role for a Thurgood type player, especially in scrappy games (usually away from home), and I don’t see any other player in the squad suited to that role.

    I think Bentley getting himself fully fit is affecting us at the moment but in the long run will benefit us and should hopefully go back to the form he showed last year.

    In terms of Fuller, I’ve not seen any of his performances but I’ve seen enough of Southall to say he is past it so it is a choice between Fuller and Clohessy.

    Miller, I think when he stays in advanced positions is a very useful creative player but when he drops a bit further back, like he did in 2nd half against Walsall, I don’t think he has the passing range to play the deep lying midfield creative role ala a Carrick at Man Utd or Sneijder at Real Madrid/Holland (lets be honest if he did have that ability he would be playing much higher).

  16. Bring Back Les Berry says:

    I have to agree with Loaf – it doesn’t matter who was best, the fact is that we are fourth from bottom and show no signs of picking up a win what-so-ever.

    Stimson will get it right and it’s ridculous to even talk of getting rid of him, but as paying supporters / season ticket holders I think we can question things like how many non-league players it is sensible to bring in in one go.

    And Jon, I have to say that this passion yoo talk about wasn’t evident at the home games I attended against Cheltenham or Northampton. They were quite frankly fucking turgid!

  17. Andrew Curragh says:

    I have no Idea why Swindon sticks in the collective psyche of you guys. Brian himself let it known when he had to pass comment on Swindon and his otherwise consumate professionalism deserted him. A long time ago in a galaxy called the seventies we beat Juventus 0-1 at their place and 4-0 at ours. We stuffed Roma and Arsenal and Napoli in cup finals. We are crap and we smell of pig shit but we once stared at the stars. you are crap and smell of rotten fish and thats as good as it will ever get.
    Have a nice day my lovelies

  18. Bring Back Les Berry says:

    Anyone actually know what this prick’s talking about?

  19. Brendan Place Fanclub says:

    BBLB go back and read the pre game report about our earlier visit to Swindon this season. I think you’ll find that everything it says about Swindonites has been born true by Andrew Curragh.

  20. Bring Back Les Berry says:

    Yep, can’t argue with that. It was never really in doubt though, was it?

  21. Andrew Curragh says:

    your post match review spoke volumes as well . A Swindon fan (Redbullseye) wrote a supportive conciliatory comment wishing Gillingham all the best. Did not elicit a comment from any of you yet my little missive has you up in arms. I am aware that we have moronic twats that cannot see past hating other fans and I deplore what they stand for. You might not glass or stab rivals but your petty loathing is part of the same problem. You hate us , you hate your players and you probably hate your partners. Still its not all bad you love your dear old mums dontcha!!!

  22. Jon says:

    And you, my friend, love your sister. And sleep with her to prove it.

  23. Andrew Curragh says:

    I really should have seen that one coming so fair play Jon. Huddersfield today eh! I look forward to more post match ranting .

  24. stavros85 says:

    Andrew, have you ever considered why fans of so many teams hate Swindon?

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