Saturday 13 April – Gills 1-2 Swansea City
All my pre-match calculations concerning what can keep us in this division led to a prediction of relegation on goal difference. We needed two wins from our last four games, and I could only see where five points would come from. I was banking on a point in this game though, the logic being that we stand more chance of picking up something from any home game (regardless of the quality of the opposition) than any away game. So we’re now a point in deficit, without taking into account Crewe and Millwall’s results.
Yesterday was disappointing in so many ways. Everything was buoyant before kick-off, selling BMH in its printed form for the first time in two years, and Gills took the match by the scruff of the neck. I thought our performance in the first half was excellent, it reminded me of the “bring it on” spirit cultivated under Stan Ternant when we were in similar dire straits – let’s not worry about the quality of the opponents, we’ve got what it takes.
Oli took his goal well – he’s leapt forward in bounds over recent weeks. I wrote him off as inept after the Hartlepool game but he links with Jackson better than anyone else we’ve tried. He has genuine strength and timing in the air and is capable of holding the ball up so Simeone isn’t quite so isolated. He’s a bloody disaster running at defenders down the wing, so let’s not play him there. Oli and Jackson both blazed over good chances, Cullip put a towering header just wide and we enjoyed plenty of possession.
Swansea on the other hand were a strong and tidy side, and got behind us down the flanks a few times but offered little threat. From what I’ve seen, Doncaster are by far the best side we’ve seen at Priestfield this season. So the staggeringly deflating double sucker punch right on half time was difficult to swallow. Even from tv pictures it’s difficult to decipher if Stillie had both hands on the ball, but if he hadn’t fumbled the shot in the first place it wouldn’t have been an issue. It was the major flaw that let down Vince Bartram’s game, and one Simon Royce doesn’t appear to suffer from. The second goal provoked half-hearted shouts for handball, but it was a classy finish. Again it came from a Stillie parry, though on this occasion he was rather undone by a nicked deflection.
With 1500 cagule clad Swans cavorting in the Town End life suddenly had a different perspective. They didn’t deserve their lead, but once they had it they knew exactly what to do to keep it. We lost our way and hardly threatened in the second half. Swansea had all the clever marks of successful teams, with delaying tactics at throw-ins and taking forever over substitutions, and contesting every decision with the twat in black. Incredible that they had any decisions to contest, Mr Penton gave absolutely everything to the visitors, it was pathetic, culminating in Miller’s booking for a lunge which was neither dangerous nor mis-timed – he didn’t even catch the defender but the squeal, the roll, the leap to the feet and the appeal to the weak official was enough to earn Miller a two match ban. He’s been way below his best for the last couple of weeks, the hernia clearly getting the better of him, so maybe it’s no bad thing.
Point of credit for the linesman who gave a handball against Southall that made me want to cry. It prompted a protest from the slowest pitch invader in history, the disgruntled idiot being allowed to stroll onto the pitch from the Rainham End and over to the official without a hint of intervention from the utterly clueless fuckwits who sit in day-glo jackets around the edge of the pitch day-dreaming. The ones he’d actually ambled past seemed to think it was hilarious. Captain Clipboard was nowhere to be seen, probably busy getting a ten year old to sit still in his seat.
Gills still put up a worthy fight, with particularly impressive performances from Cullip, King, Crofts and Jackson. Fuller has potential – a lot of our strife (as at Millwall last week) came down his side and I really wish he didn’t have the confidence to try quite so many pot-shots from distance, but he is playing out of position and seems solid enough. My reservations against Richards continue though alongside the other two it can work. Maher – not quick enough to sense danger and a potential liability with his wild tackling but we’ll see.
The travelling army were rather muted throughout the second period which spoke volumes of their concerns over our performance (particularly after they were undone by Bournemouth’s smash and grab last weekend) but they became increasingly animated as the referee played out the three of his promised four minutes of injury time. They became the first team in my memory to clinch promotion at Priestfield (I’ve only ever seen Swindon and Manchester City go up against us, and I’d rather not dwell on either of those). It’s nice to see some joy at the ground at last, but had we claimed the point we deserved we could at least travel to Bristol with some hope of clawing our way out of trouble.
Champagne Moment :
For me it was probably meeting some Sunderland fans on a stag do in a pub in town, who taught me their Nyron songs, and the full words to “Niall Quinn’s Disco Pants”. Back in Kent, it was probably the considerable goodwill at the brief return of BMH in its original format…
We had a couple of half-chances