Thursday, 26 August 2010

Tonbridge 2 Bury Town 3

Match 11/10/829 - Tuesday, 24th August 2010 - Ryman Premier

Tonbridge (2) 2 Booth 43 pen, 44
Bury Town (0) 3 Reed, Sam 50, 80 Reed, Lee 62
Att. 429

Entrance: £10
Programme: £2
Mileage: 26/878

Match Report

Football supporters are a superstitious bunch and I’m not a lot different. Over the years I’ve taken the same route to home matches whilst on a winning trot, worn the same clothes and have forever shouted “Come On Gillingham” as the teams emerge from the tunnel at the beginning of the game.

I’ve had a trusty scarf for a good few years that had definitely seen better days and following last season’s relegation decided that it should follow the club into the bottom drawer and be replaced. I decided that I wanted to look as stylish as Roberto Mancini and would purchase a blue and white bar scarf.

Pre-season I took myself off to the club shop to buy the new piece of attire only to find that as the club colours had changed to blue and black they were no longer selling the scarves. Not liking the new style, and still wanting to be as cool as Mancini, I decided that the Internet was bound to solve the problem.

Here I came across a site called Football Heaven where they not only sold the blue and white version, but also a blue and black style. As they were only a fiver each and I’ve always doubled a Gills scarf as a Tonbridge scarf, I decided to go for both.

Proudly sporting the blue and black to Gillingham’s first home game brought the good fortune of a 50/50 Lottery win (a shirt that wasn’t available), a decent draw, but sadly no win. An away draw and a home defeat later and the scarf still hasn’t collected a victory.

Last night, for the first time, the blue and white version had its maiden run-out at Tonbridge. Two goals up at half-time, it was obvious that the blue and white was the way to go . . . 45 minutes later, a 3-2 defeat leaves me thinking that these bloody scarves are jinxed.

The blue and black will go to Morecambe on Saturday, a loss and I’m scuttling back to the bottom drawer to retrieve the old faithful.

Tonbridge had something other than my scarves in common with Gillingham at the beginning of this season, a high expectation that was brought down to earth with a bump following a 3-0 opening day defeat at Billericay. Last night’s visitors, Bury Town, are new to the Ryman League having crossed over from the Zamaretto after a highly successful last term.

Tonbridge dominated the opening half, but it appeared that it was going to be fruitless until Paul Booth scored twice in a minute to establish a healthy half time lead. His first came from the penalty spot after Lee Browning had been brought down, followed by a smart turn of pace and calm finish to complete his brace.

Although Tonbridge were by far the better side, there had been odd moments during the half that Bury had showed a bit of life going forward. Keiran Leabon had brought the best out of Lee Worgan with a fine save, touching away his goalbound header.

A foul on the edge of the box early in the second half was duly punished when Sam Reed curled the ball round the wall to begin the visitor’s fight back and signal the beginning of some suicidal defending from the home side.

Within a quarter of an hour, Tonbridge had survived courtesy of another fine save from Worgan, but conceded their advantage when a straightforward through ball split the defence for Lee Reed to equalise with an expert finish.

The home side were now well and truly under the cosh and several chances went begging before woeful defending allowed Sam Reed to convert a cross from an unmarked position at the far post.

Tonbridge responded, too little too late, with efforts from Collin and Booth in the final minutes before the final whistle sounded to the bemusement of the majority of the 429 attendance. How? Why? I guess were the questions being asked by many an Angels’ fan as they made their way back to their cars . . . I just looked accusingly at the aforementioned woollen article.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Gillingham 0 Lincoln City 1

Match 10/10/828 - Saturday, 21st August 2010 - League Two

Gillingham (0) 0
Lincoln City (0) 1 Hughton 9
Att. 4,838

Entrance: Season Ticket
Programme: £3
Mileage: 45/852

Match Report

Honeymoons last five minutes and patience is wafer thin. So when the final whistle blew on a desperately poor Gillingham performance it was with little surprise that it was greeted with a chorus of boos from disgruntled “supporters” who saw a first defeat as reason enough to raise their voices in the time honoured fashion.

I guess these were the same people that loudly cheered a few seconds later when the tannoy announced that Mark Stimson’s Barnet had been beaten by seven goals at Crewe. It confirms that these people feed off negativity.

Nobody would argue that Gillingham didn’t deserve the admonishment from the crowd, they lacked imagination, pace, just about any attribute that is required to win a game of football, but we are just three games in, surely any manager and/or players deserve a few more games than that?

Whilst I’m not a booer, I still want my twopenneth worth.

It can be argued that because of injuries Andy Hessenthaler’s choice of formation has been forced upon him, but I cannot understand the ethos of playing at home with just one striker. Cody McDonald will be the second man when he is fit, but there must somebody else capable of playing off Adebayo Akinfenwa in the meantime. Luke Rooney emerged as substitute on the hour and brought a couple of good saves from Joe Anyon, something that hadn’t happened previously.

Rooney is young and can be a bit of a headless chicken. Consequently, if he starts he may not last the full 90 minutes but, on this occasion, his energy and positivity may well have put this game beyond Lincoln before he ran out of steam.

After two years of bemoaning Stimson’s use of the substitute it is refreshing to see Hessenthaler making bold substitutions when the game is not going to plan. But can anybody explain to me the value of the 50th minute change?

If a player, in this case Kevin Maher, has performed so poorly for the first 45 minutes, why would anybody expect him to radically improve in just five minutes of the second half. Tell him in the dressing room that he is being replaced and spare the bloke the indignity of being hooked to the sarcastic jeering of the crowd, something that is not going to help the confidence of a player whatever end of their career they are at.

Gillingham fell foul of the returning player when after nine minutes a shot from Albert Jarrett, whose performance bore no comparison to his woeful spell at Priestfield, was only parried by Alan Julian to Cian Hughton who reacted far quicker than John Nutter or Chris Palmer to fire into the far corner.

Lincoln had their lead and now it was up to the home side to break down a resolute defence led by Ian Pierce, one time of West Ham. For the first 45 minutes Gillingham played without imagination or craft to even muster a shot on target.

The introduction of Curtis Weston sparked a bit of life into a leaden footed midfield and when Rooney arrived, Lincoln’s defence began to creak a little. Spiller might well have been awarded a penalty, a Josh Gowling header was somehow scrambled to safety, in addition to Rooney’s two efforts.

With a couple of minutes remaining, Akinfenwa hit a post and as the ball rebounded into the grateful hands of the goalkeeper we knew that this was not to be our day and quite frankly it did not deserve it to be so.

The attendance was almost a thousand fewer than opening day, goodness only know how loud the booing would have been had they all turned up.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Hereford United 0 Gillingham 0

Match 09/10/825 - Saturday, 14th August 2010 - League Two

Hereford United (0) 0
Gillingham (0) 0
Att. 2,915

Entrance: £13
Programme: £2.50
Mileage: 387/807
New Ground: 236

Match Report

It’s still there. No matter how hard they wrestled, Gilllingham failed once more to rid themselves of that damned monkey on their backs.

In a game almost entirely dominated by the visitors the elusive away win was thwarted by a combination of good goalkeeping in the shape of Adam Bartlett, the robust defending of skipper Janos Kovacs and finishing that was laced with misfortune.

Matt Lawrence, signed from Crystal Palace was drafted in at right back, Tony Sinclair moved alongside Josh Gowling in the centre of the defence with Mark Bentley moving into midfield.

The vast majority of the visiting support would have left Edgar Street wondering how that 16 month wait for an away victory had not been ended.

As the rain fell, a minute’s applause was observed following the death of Adam Stansfield, the Exeter City player who died a couple of days earlier, he was an ex-Hereford United player.

In the first 10 minutes Chris Palmer was twice denied by saves from Bartlett before Adebayo Akinfenwa put a header over the bar. Gillingham continued to dominate the half and although Alan Julian was forced into a couple of routine saves it was the visitors that came closest when a free kick straight from the training ground almost bore fruit. Danny Spiller and John Nutter shifted the position of the ball and Palmer struck a well hit shot that rebounded off a post.

Just before half time tempers became a touch roused when Kovacs, who is no small man, brought down Akinfenwa. Kovacs was booked for the foul and the feud continued into the tunnel at the half time whistle. If those two had really squared up it would have made a good undercard bout at the next David Haye fight.

Hereford’s own version of “The Tank”, Matheiu Manset shot into the side netting early in the second half as the home side restarted the brighter. Gillingham settled back into the game and chances followed with a couple of corners producing efforts on goal.

Hereford posed the visitors a few more problems during the second period than they had in the first, with one-time Gillingham target Stuart Fleetwood looking dangerous but overall he was well marshalled by the central defensive pairing.

Chris Palmer left the field having put in a good shift before being replaced by Stefan Payne with 10 minutes to play. Gillingham twice went close in those remaining minutes. Gowling headed a Spiller corner wide before the boy called Daniel brought the save of the match from Bartlett. His shot arrowed towards the top corner before the keeper touched it away.

So the long wait goes on but if Gillingham continue to perform in this vein on their travels that change in fortune cannot be too far away.

This was a first visit to Edgar Street where character should not be confused with dereliction. In these columns I’ve championed the quirkiness of the old in comparison to the legoland modern day stadia. But the facilities and the sightlines were so poor that, even for me, nostalgia has to take a back seat.

After four hours in a car it felt good to have the opportunity to stand on a terrace and we took this in preference to a seat. But we instantly regretted not paying the extra £2 as it was difficult to find a viewing position that was not impaired by huge concrete pillars that could have held the QE2 above water. The only option was to stand in front of them and get wet from the sometimes heavy rain that fell throughout the first half.

For those of you that can remember those awful toilets before the Rainham End was rebuilt, they were the deluxe version in comparison to those at Edgar Street. The one quirk that I did appreciate was the huge floodlight pylons that could have housed 50 bulbs per unit but instead were home to just nine!

No doubt the next away trip at Morecambe’s new Globe Arena will fail to produce an architectural masterpiece, but I’m coming round to functionality.

Friday, 13 August 2010

England 2 Hungary 1

Match 08/10/824 - Wednesday, 11th August 2010 - International

England (0) 2 Gerrard 69, 73
Hungary (0) 1 Koman 62
Att. 72,024

Entrance: £15
Programme: £6
Mileage: 100/420

Match Report

Nobody quite knew what to expect, on or off the pitch, from England’s first outing since their World Cup debacle. A fortnight ago it was reported that the attendance could be as few as 40,000 and it was obvious that England’s World Cup failures were going to be in for a hostile evening.

As it was, 72,000 pitched up at Wembley and the reception they gave to the inglorious seven was mixed. Very fair ticket prices, school holidays and foreign tourists not only bolstered the attendance but also diluted the expected hostility.

Each one of the World Cup squad named in Fabio Capello’s starting eleven was booed as their names were read out prior to the game with varying degrees of volume. Ashley Cole, who always gets booed anyway, John Terry and Wayne Rooney were subject to the worst of the abuse. But as the teams entered the arena they were largely greeted warmly.

Capello gave first starts to Joe Hart and Adam Johnson and recalls for Theo Walcott and Phil Jagielka and with Walcott posing an early threat down the right flank the initial booing died a death as the watching public started to concentrate on the game.

Walcott set up a wonderful opportunity for Adam Johnson and Rooney had a goal disallowed for offside before England became subdued allowing the crowd to become restless once more.

Gerrard saw an effort tipped over the bar by Gabor Kiraly, of baggy trousers fame from his time at Crystal Palace, before the half time whistle brought the loudest chorus of booing so far. Those that had arrived at Wembley with the intention of making their indignation felt were oblivious to the scoreline being the only justification for the reaction.

The second half brought the introduction of Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs and Fulham’s Bobby Zamora for their international debuts alongside Ashley Young and Michael Dawson. Young continued the tormenting of the full backs in the manner of Walcott’s first half showing and chances fell to Gerrard and Zamora before Hungary took the lead with a disputed goal.

A Dawson error allowed Vladimir Koman a shot that was deflected goalwards by Jagielka. In a desperate attempt to atone for his mistake Dawson attempted to clear only for the linesman to adjudge that the ball had crossed the line. Television replays showed that this was clearly not the case.

The crowd was now full of dissenting voices that reached a crescendo with the substitution of Rooney, who responded to the booing with a sarcastic wave to his detractors. Strangely it was the catalyst of a stirring recovery from England and, in particular, Steven Gerrard.

A thunderous drive from 20 yards screamed into the top of the net and the uplifting manner of Gerrard's celebration brought the crowd back onboard. Three minutes later they were fully won over when the England captain jinked his way through several red shirted defenders to poke the ball home.

England and Fabio Capello had managed to survive a difficult evening with some positives. Walcott and Young had 45 minutes each of exhilarating pace with not quite the end product, but reason for optimism. Joe Hart was not greatly tested between the sticks but handled everything tidily and made a good save late in the game to prove his concentration. Adam Johnson, fluffed his lines slightly with his early miss but showed enough to warrant perseverance and, on the night, Gerrard was Captain Fantastic.

Capello, who clearly has plenty to do to win back the faith of the support, sat steadfastly in his seat, not once entering the technical area. Some would say, a cowardly way to avoid the inevitable abuse that would come his way. We now await with interest the upcoming European Qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland. Does he continue with the youngsters that have shown glimpses of their potential or will he play safe with the old guard that let him down so badly in South Africa? English football reached a dead end in Bloemfontein and the only way forward is to risk a qualification failure to promote the next generation.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Gillingham 1 Cheltenham Town 1

Match 07/10/823 - Saturday, 7th August 2010 - League Two

Gillingham (0) 1 Akinfenwa 75
Cheltenham Town (0) 1 Thomas 53
Att. 5,655

Entrance: Season Ticket
Programme: £3
Mileage: 45/320

Match Report

They came in sizeable numbers to welcome back the small man that is a Gillingham legend, they left singing the praises of the big man, who could become a cult hero at Priestfield Stadium.

Andy Hessenthaler walked the touchline at 3 o’clock to rapturous applause from a support that has been reunited by his appointment and whilst, two hours later, the result might not have been the perfect end to the day, the performance offered positive encouragement for the coming months.

A Cheltenham side that offered far more than their previous season’s lowly finish would have expected, played their part in a highly entertaining first day encounter.

First day nerves played their part as the new-look Gillingham side back in their popular blue and black stripes struggled to find their feet in the opening stages but once Andy Barcham realised he had the beating of his full back the chances started to fall to the hosts. He created an opportunity for Curtis Weston that the midfielder shot over and had a couple of chances of his own, one of which might have brought a penalty.

Young 18-year-old debutant, Stefan Payne was asked to lead the attack as a lone striker and his inexperience led to him wanting a touch to many to create the perfect shooting opportunity but he did more than enough to foster the believe that Hessenthaler may have unearthed a prospective talent.

In midfield, Danny Spiller produced a performance of high energy and endeavour. Now 29, Spiller has a five-month contract in which to convince the man he once played alongside that he is worthy of a longer term and his near man-of-the-match display showed a willingness to earn it.

Cheltenham, who had barely threatened the Gillingham goal in the first half, opened the scoring eight minutes into the second half. Despite having an early chance in the second half, the goal came from such an innocuous situation that it took the home crowd by surprise. A free kick from Keith Lowe found Wes Thomas who poked home from close range despite the attention of Josh Gowling, who otherwise had a very solid game.

Gone were the dithering substitutions of Mark Stimson's reign as Hessenthaler immediately introduced Adebayo Akinfenwa into the action. Nicknamed “The Fridge” by Millwall fans during his spell at The Den, after the legendary William Perry of the Chicago Bears, the Gillingham supporters have adopted the label “The Tank”, and what a first impression he made.

For such a big man, his touch is remarkably deft. Within two minutes he had produced an overhead kick into the goalkeepers welcoming arms that belied his physicality. His hold-up play was excellent, winning and laying off passes as Gillingham searched for an equaliser that deservedly arrived with 15 minutes remaining.

A long throw-in from Jack Payne found Akinfenwa at the near post and his flicked header took a deflection to nestle into the far corner of the net. It wasn’t a classic goal but Bayo held an arm aloft, was engulfed by his team mates and carried on walking towards the centre circle!

Gillingham sensed a winner but chances for Luke Rooney, Tony Sinclair and Andy Barcham failed to deliver the three points.

Despite the result, the referee’s final whistle brought a positive response from the Gillingham faithful. Overall they must have been pleased with what they had seen. An outstanding performance from 18-year-old Jack Payne, a performance from Danny Spiller in the image of his boss and, then there was Akinfenwa, the big man that took the first steps and the first goal towards cult hero status.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Season Preview 2010

Optimism – has to be the buzz word for this season’s preview.

Gillingham should never have found themselves back in League Two, but they have, and now the task falls to Andy Hessenthaler to drag the club back to League One and beyond, preferably at the first attempt.

If Hessenthaler was brought in to galvanise support following the divisive Stimson reign then that part of the mission is complete. But the affection in which he is held will only last for a limited period if results are not forthcoming from the outset.

The loss of Simeon Jackson has been compensated with the signings of Cody McDonald and the giant Adebayo Akinfenwa. 20-goal Jackson is going to be a tough act to follow, but Akinfenwa scored 17 last term at Northampton and with regular football it is to be hoped that McDonald can find the scoring touch that led to Norwich taking him from non-league Dartford.

Some interesting signings have been made with Stanley Aborah, one time of Ajax, on a month-to-month contract to prove his worth and Danny Spiller returns to the club with a contract to Christmas that he would hope to be extended.

This is never an easy Division to judge other clubs strengths as the vast majority of signings are not household names, but without saying Gillingham have done fantastic business, nobody else appears to have done either. The nucleus of the squad that really should have been good enough last term remain and hopefully have a point to prove.

Away form is key and let’s face it anything is going to be an improvement on last season. An early win will get the monkey off our back and if the home form remains strong it is not going to take a wonderful away record to be among the front runners.

My guess for fellow contenders are last year’s beaten play-off finalists Rotherham, Peter Taylor’s Bradford and probably Wycombe, relegated alongside Gillingham last season despite a strong finish.

But my optimistic forecast is that for the first time in 36 years supporting the club, I will have a Divisional Championship to celebrate.

Tonbridge manager Tommy Warrilow appears to have made some very astute signings and optimism at Longmead, never easy to contain, is very high. Players like Frannie Collin, from Dover, would not at first glance be thought of as on the radar of Tonbridge, but he has arrived with Lee Browning and Danny Walder from the Crabble.

The budget at Tonbridge has been a major worry and Warrilow has been insistent that he has kept within his figures despite several other high profile signings. Non-league championships do tend to go to where the money is spent and a rough guess would be that Tonbridge are not the biggest spenders. It is about time Sutton departed the Ryman Premier, Lowestoft have massive support so they should be well funded and I’m guessing that the likes of Kingstonian and Carshalton are not going to be far off the pack.

But once again it is time to be optimistic and I would be disappointed at less than a play-off place.

England begin a new qualifying campaign following the World Cup debacle. It is going to be interesting to see how Fabio Capello reshapes the squad that failed the nation in South Africa and to see the reaction of Joe Public towards those failures. Capello needs a good start against Switzerland in Basle, that will not be easy and Bulgaria at Wembley. He needs six points from those games merely to retain the level of support he has.

League Two offers a two of the four grounds needed to complete the 92 club, Hereford United and Burton Albion and there are also new stadiums for Chesterfield and Morecambe.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Season Review 2009-10

What a strange one!

The fourth year of That’ll Be The Day maintains the record of each season Gillingham being in a different division to the year previous, and just how did it happen this time around.

They went into the last game of the season the unlikeliest of the clubs involved to be relegated but still managed to make it happen and I still scratch my head as to why. How can a team that managed to amass 44 points from home fixtures end up relegated, easy when you only end up with 50. Six measly points on the road without a single away win makes for some pretty depressing travelling and boy did we have some bizarre days.

Who would have predicted the final outcome back in the warmth of August’s opening day. The old enemy, Swindon Town, were rolled to one side in a stunning five-goal blitz and for two hours we were the embryonic leaders of League One. Two away defeats followed, but the performances at Tranmere and Colchester were encouraging and offered no clues to the barren travels that would follow.

By the end of October the alarm bells were starting to ring despite a mid-table position. Solid home performances were being undermined by a record of a solitary draw at Walsall in eight away trips and the early encouragement in defeat had been replaced by some heavy defeats at Leeds and Southampton and woeful performances in defeat at Milton Keynes and Brighton.

October also saw the first of our travelling nightmares with a Friday night game at Southend. Friday is always a perilous night at the Dartford Tunnel and this particular rush hour saw a two hour wait to enter the tunnel and a mad dash once we had made it through. We missed the first 20 minutes and Gillingham wrapped up a forgettable night with another defeat.

The very next of our travels took us to Bristol Rovers and a day of torrential rain, it also became known as dog shit day. Needless to say, we lost, albeit to a late goal after an inexplicable mistake by loanee Matt Fry. After a difficult journey home, as a passenger, I drove my own car back home from my brother’s house. Whether through tiredness or just plain bad driving I misjudged the whereabouts of my front step and burst a tyre on its corner. In the rain, I decided that changing the wheel could wait until the next day. What Sunday brought was a second flat tyre, so now I had to wheel one of the tyres to the local garage for changing and in the process I wheeled it through dog shit and onto my hands!

These occurrences come in threes and so it was to the most bizarre of the lot. The next away fixture was at Leyton Orient and once again the Dartford Tunnel comes into play. Despite a delay we are still in good time when we come to a halt on the A12. East London was gridlocked by a prat on a roof throwing bricks at passing cars and for the first time in my football watching life I missed the match that I had set out for as we failed to get to within a couple of miles of Brisbane Road. And, par for the course, Gillingham lost with half of the team stuck in the same jam also not making the kick off.

By the turn of the year a second away point had been extracted from 12 games on the road but still the home form was keeping our heads above water. The harsh winter was also beginning to take a grip and a trip north to Accrington for a FA Cup 3rd round match had to be aborted at Oxford because of a frozen pitch. A visit from Premier League Fulham was to be the prize but the in the re-arranged tie Gillingham meekly surrendered.

In February saw a horrific defeat at Brentford followed by a rare defeat at home to Tranmere and now alarm bells were well and truly ringing as Gillingham slipped into the bottom four and the calls for Mark Stimson’s head were ever louder.

Results slightly improved, still no away wins, but the points tally now registered at six with an uplifting experience at The Valley coupled with a home win over promotion-chasing Huddersfield seeing Gillingham once again clamber clear of the bottom four.

The final run-in and woeful performances at Oldham and Millwall were counter-balanced with superb home wins over Southend and Leeds and when Southampton were beaten at Priestfield in the penultimate game surely nothing could go wrong at Wycombe.

The fates at Adams Park decreed that a spineless showing in a 3-0 defeat was worthy of results elsewhere conspiring to put Gillingham back into the Football League’s basement after just one season.

Were we unlucky? Perhaps so. For every one of four results to go against us, is indeed unfortunate, but the fact remains everything was in our hands and we blew it.

Mark Stimson’s tenure was quickly brought to a close in its wake and the vast majority shed no tears.

In the Ryman Premier, another manager, Tommy Warrilow was also feeling the heat around the turn of the year. Languishing in the bottom four and slaughtered at Hastings soon after New Year, Tonbridge went on a run of just two defeats in 13 games, unbeaten in 10 to haul themselves not only clear of the relegation zone but onto the fringes of the play-offs and, indeed, they mathematically went into the final game of the season still with a chance of making the top five. But fixture congestion and three final games, all away from home, were too much of a mountain to climb and defeats at Wealdstone and Aveley sealed their fate.

The reason this Review is late on the board is because of England’s participation at the World Cup, or should it be non-participation. Qualification had been nigh perfect, there was the memorable night in September when our old nemesis Croatia were put to the sword with a stunning 5-1 victory and our place in South Africa sealed with games to spare. In the Croatia match posting I wrote:

We go to every World Cup Finals with misguided hopes, the cart goes in front of the horse and we are always left disappointed. Will those expectations be different this time? Probably not, and mainly because we are good, very good.

Well, I got the horse and cart right, but good? Oh dear, oh dear. What happened in South Africa needs no reviewing aside from the unnecessary observation that we were crap.

From a personal point of view, all the planning that went into making the trip for the later stages of the competition went tits up as the Germans wiped the floor with us. Money that, for the most part will be refunded, had been tied up for months but it was the undoing of all the carefully prepared strands that was the most heartbreaking.

New stadiums for Colchester United and Milton Keynes were visited with MK being easily the more impressive. Pre-season added three more to the list with Dartford’s highly praised Princes Park, the less than salubrious Thurrock and a French visit to Calais and their new stadium.

End of season totals: Games 2,067. Grounds: 235

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Croydon Athletic 0 Gillingham 0

Match 06/10/822 - Saturday, 31st July 2010 - Pre-Season Friendly

Croydon Athletic (0) 0
Gillingham (0) 0
Att. 343
Played at Bourne Park, Sittingbourne

Entrance: £8
Programme: Not Published
Mileage: 44/275

Match Report

The best thing about this pre-season friendly was the final whistle and the knowledge that the next posting into That'll Be The Day will be that of competitive football.

A weakened Gillingham side, there was the best part of an eleven sitting behind me in the main stand, and a poor playing surface didn't lend itself to a fluid performance. The state of the pitch was somewhat ironic, as the match was moved to Bourne Park because Croydon's pitch was not fit for use.

Andy White might have opened the scoring in the first minute when his deft chip only just cleared the bar before having to depart with a hamstring injury midway through the half.

It would have been a good story to report that the ex-Ajax player, Stanley Aborah has done enough to earn a contract at Priestfield, but sadly I don't think that will be the case. He has some classy touches, but too much of a liability in the rough and tumble of England's lowest tier.

Garry Richards made a welcome return for the last 15 minutes replacing the excellent Connor Essam and a 10 minute cameo from Andy Barcham at least enlivened the finish.

It was left to Adebayo Akinfenwa to, once again, supply the laugh from his second half appearance. On giving away a free kick, he was heard to exclaim to the referee, "he bounced off me", I think there might be a few more bouncing in the coming weeks!