2 August 2008 – Thurrock 0-2 Gills
The final pre-season game and another afternoon amidst the beauty of the Essex countryside. And an exceedingly comfortable victory that could and should have a lot more comprehensive.
Stimson played what we can assume to be close to our first choice starting line-up, and we actually played a lot of effective and pretty football. I know we should be brushing sides like Thurrock aside but lets face it, it hasn’t been happening through one of the worst pre-seasons in my memory. Only 1989 comes close by my reckoning (when we lost to most of the Kent League), and you know we’ve come full circle when we start losing to Dover again.
I’d like to have seen Jackson notch a few more goals simply for his confidence, but he was unlucky on a couple of occasions, hitting the post and scoring the second goal just before half time, adding to Nicky Southall’s opener which was a screamer from way out wide. McCammon made his first start and though his touch was somewhat erratic we have to accept that he is short of match fitness. I wasn’t at all convinced by triallist Bobsam Elijiko at centre back – judgement is obviously reserved but he already looks to me like the sort of defender who has a chronic error in him in every game…maybe it was just an eagerness to impress. Miller got involved and was behind most of the incisive moves (of which there were many) and Royce had virtually nothing to do (this despite Thurrock fielding chunky Brazilian Ronaldo look-a-like Che Stodhart up front – he seems to have bulked up a bit since his Gravesend days).
The thing is – many of us have seen it all before. Pre-season campaigns really do mean absolutely nothing and anything could happen at Dean Court on the opening day. I personally feel quite comfortable with the way things are going, though I have missed most of our games so far. And looking on the real bright side…just think back to 1995. I would suggest that Royce is as good as Stannard (certainly as Big Fat Jim was perceived at the start of that season), King is better than Butler and Richards is remarkably similar to the uncompromising Mark Harris, Crofts is better than Dave Martin and Jackson has got more goals in him than Dennis Bailey. McCammon has an air of the Leos about him…ok, we’re lacking the finesse of Simon Ratcliffe and Steve Butler, and there is no Richard Green or Joe Dunne, and Stimson has a LONG way to go before he can fill Tony Pulis’s shoes, but the spine of our side isn’t looking too shabby. I’ve got low expectations but I’m certainly not going to get into a flap for a few weeks yet and others would be advised to do otherwise.
Southall’s screamer and Adam Miller’s frustrated swearing whenever he wasn’t given the ball where he wanted it…but generally a very pleasant afternoon. At least it didn’t rain…
The Morty Vicker