Falling at the first hurdle

12 August –  Gills 0 – 1 Colchester United CCC1

This was a case of déjà vu for anyone that went to Dean Court. Again the Gills dominated for long periods, created lots of chances but contrived to miss them and failed to win a game that they really could and should have done. The 2566 crowd was the third lowest ever at Priestfield for a League Cup tie, and the lowest crowd of the Scally era excluding JPT games. £15 was simply too much to charge for the early stages of a tournament that is not top priority. Many other clubs charged £12 or less to try to tempt people mindful of the credit crunch out on a blustery night… clearly that was beyond us.

As to the game, with Julian making his debut in place of Royce (illness) and Southall in for loanee Weston it was a pretty strong side we put out and we nearly scored within the opening five minutes. McCammon was put through and charged in one on one with the keeper, but got too close and blazed the ball straight at  Gerkan’s legs. On eleven minutes Colchester took the lead with the softest and messiest of “goals” the ball was played in at the near post, deflected onto the bar and in the ensuring melee with about a dozen players trying to get a boot to the ball it was touched over the line at about the fifth attempt, probably by Heath but there were several candidates depending on which lunge proved decisive. For one brief moment it looked like the referee had disallowed it for a push on the prostrate Julian but the prematurely hopeful cheers stuck in the throats of the Rainham End as it dawned on them that Gillingham being invited to kick off again. You wouldn’t have been able to tell from the virtually mute away end where barely 80 Colchester fans seemed unsure of what exactly had happened.

To their credit the Gills responded brightly and largely controlled the game, creating the majority of  chances the best of which saw Gerkan tip over a blistering drive by Jackson, free-kicks by Southall and Miller (by inches) went close and Trigger fired another wide just before the break. You wouldn’t have guessed that Col U were just out of the Championship on the first half showing, they couldn’t have really complained had we been 3-1 up…

The second half wasn’t quite so one-sided, United decided to stifle the game and began to waste time and generally take the piss out of some rather gullible officials. They even created and wasted a couple of half chances before Stimson decided to shake things up with a brave triple substitution just past the hour mark. The less than effective Miller was one of those to go (time to grow the mane again Adam?), with Oli and Berry adding a bit more vigour to proceedings the Gills gave it a good old fashioned go, United hit us once on the break and Julian pulled off a stunning save from Izzet to keep us in it with fifteen minutes to go. At the other end a series of half-chances from Nutter, Oli and Co didn’t quite bring a goal and with less than ten minutes to go a magnificent bit of play from man of the match Jackson saw him thrash in a screamer at the near post that Gerkan did brilliantly to hold on to.

The final moments saw United shamelessly running down the clock and irritating the sparse but boisterous young home crowd. The final whistle brought muted applause, a decent effort by everyone, we certainly didn’t deserve to lose but getting most of the plaudits won’t be enough to stop fans getting grumpy sooner rather than later, we need to start scoring goals and soon. Five years of goal-shy incompetence and bad luck up front is simply unacceptable. Score you dozy bastards – SCORE!

Champagne Moment:- With the Town End closed to Gills fans and it being the summer holidays there was plenty of youthful exuberance in the Rainham End. This included a pink and orange beach ball that was playfully whacked about as the game progressed, it became an irritation to anyone over the age of eighteen that shock horror, actually wanted to watch the game, but even the most cynical bastards were laughing their metaphysical socks off at one incident. The younger fans were clearly unable to grasp the concept of wind and the net effect blustery conditions would have on the light ball as it repeatedly blew onto the grass. The stewards manfully rescued the offending sphere and handed it back to the excited chavs at the front, but then with the obligatory switch of stewards a amiably dopey bloke with thinning black hair took over (you know the one, clearly a genuine fan). Inevitably the ball landed at his feet, he turned, took deliberate aim and flung it back with great gusto, only his aim was on a par with the Gillingham strikers. He contrived to hit the pole holding up the back of the goal net, it was less than a foot away from him which could be classified as a bit careless, it rebounded humiliatingly deep into the penalty area to a great disbelieving cheer, he then waved bashfully as the Rainham End resounded to hundreds of people hysterically falling about… priceless.

The Concentrating on the League Binman.

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