Saturday 11 October – Gills 5-0 Morcambe 0
So, what to make of a wildly inconsistent start to season where we have conceded 14 goals in 5 away games and 1 goal in five at home? Following the abject seven goal surrender at Shrewsbury, a far from convincing win at home to Port Vale in arguably one of the poorest games EVER witnessed at Priestfield and yet another capitulation away at Exeter, confidence going into this game was far from high.
Rumours floated around the Rainham End at kick off that if the Gills lost, this could indeed be Stimson’s last game and one read of Scally’s programme notes left one in no doubt how difficult it was trying to kindle any interest in the club from outside investors when we are becoming a complete laughing stock on the road.
In truth this match started in the same vein as Port Vale. Plucky but clearly limited opponents having the best of the opening 20 minutes whilst the Gills huffed and puffed, sent passes all over the place and generally looked a bit shite. Mind numbing tedium was broken by a free header from Bentley which led to an astonishing transformation of the display. Immediately, heads were up, confidence flowed and the passing football we know that the team are capable of arrived. A lovely flowing move led to Jackson’s sharp shot from the edge of the area which beat the cumbersome Roche. Similar good play led to another decent chance for Jackson which he tucked away with aplomb to the keepers right. So this is what it felt like to be a Shrewsbury fan! A Jackson hatrick was only averted on the stroke of half time by a smart save from a one on one.
The second half kicked off with 2 Morecambe players substituted and it quickly became apparent that our opponents had little inclination or ability to try and get back into the game and were reduced to some half chances with Royce barely having a save to make all game. The inevitable fourth finally arrived via some comedy goalkeeping/defending with McCammon resolutely refusing to poach the goal on the line following a deflected 40 yard Southall effort towards the vacant goal. Gills continued to create chances and whilst Jackson’s elusive hatrick wouldn’t come, McCammon bagged a fifth with a deflected shot from the edge of the area.
All in all a very satisfactory state of affairs particularly in light of the need to repair a woeful goal difference at such an early stage. Just as we did at Shrewsbury the away team pulled up the white flag and it was always going to be a question of how many.
Key for me was the replacement of Richards with Leigh Mills who looked assured, good on the ball with excellent positioning. It seemed to calm Simon King down too who was far less panicky than recent showings. Newly appointed captain Fuller grew in stature and confidence as the game went on and seems to have developed a bit of a cult following already with the Rainham End. In the middle the other Curtis Weston showed up and played probably his best game for the club. The reintroduction of Mulligan also made a difference, never looked like scoring but worked superbly in tandem with Jacko.
For me Jacko showed why at this level he clearly is a 20 goal a season striker. Against leaden footed defenders he took his chances superbly and its great to see him in the goalscorer charts in the Sunday papers.
So alls well at Priestfield but the million dollar question is will we be able to turn things around on the road in order to muster a challenge for promotion? As things stand right now my money is on a play off finish with a fantastic home record only marred by more despair and utter rubbish away from home.
Jacko’s first. Great strike to finish off a move which showed that yes the Gills can play football if they really put their minds to it.