Saturday, 4 November 2017

Gillingham 2 Leyton Orient 1

Match 54/17/1504 - Saturday, 4th November 2017 - FA Cup 1R

Gillingham (1) 2 Parker 20 Eaves 75
Leyton Orient (0) 1 Dayton 78
Attendance: 3,659

Entrance: £10.75 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 58/3,651

Match Report

No matter how bad your season has been, come November and the First Round of the FA Cup, you can begin to dream again. If, and this has not regularly been the case with Gillingham in recent years, you scratch your way through that opening hurdle, get a favourable home draw in the Second and, all of a sudden, Manchester United at Old Trafford or Tottenham at Wembley is a viable dream. Not that that ever happens to the Gills, they have never drawn United whilst clubs like Burton Albion have come out the hat twice in a relatively short time.

The first part has been achieved, it was indeed scratchy, and now we await the favourable draw, albeit with the knowledge of Gillingham and the FA Cup, that even that is no certainty of passage to Third Round Heaven.

Such is the public’s affection for the FA Cup these days, I was not able to purchase my normal Gordon Road Stand seat as this was given over to the Leyton Orient supporters, thus leaving the Brian Moore stand unoccupied. Not that I was even going to buy a ticket, only a last minute change of plan brought about by a lack of water supply at Enfield brought me the Rainham End.

There have been signs of improvement at Priestfield and Steve Lovell is staking claims to a permanent role as manager and, with Mr Scally’s love of a windfall, perhaps the £18,000 prize money will strengthen his hold on the job.

I must admit it is hard to acknowledge the fact that Orient came to Priestfield as a non-league side. A club that once graced the First Division (before its rebranding as the Premier, remember there was football pre-1992), it definitely shows that, despite my dislike for our chairman, you have to be very careful for what you wish. One bad owner, two bad seasons and you find yourselves out of the Football League, a salutary lesson.

The game was much like Gillingham's season so far, unpredictable. At half-time they were good value for their 20th minute lead acquired when Elliott List crossed for Josh Parker to head home.

First half dominance became a second half living on fragile nerves as Orient sought an equaliser. The Gills were indebted to Tomas Holy who made three spectacular saves in the space of five minutes turning aside a header from Macauley Bonne; a dipping volley from David Mooney and the best of the lot, spreading himself to keep out a close range header from Jamie Sendles-Wright.

When Tom Eaves shrugged off the attentions of Sendles-Wright to fire low into the far corner, the second round beckoned but Gillingham still deigned to make hard work of the final minutes conceding with 12 minutes to go when a free kick from James Dayton beat everybody in a crowded box to nestle in the corner of the net.

Leyton Orient sensed a way back into the tie but this disappeared with the dismissal of Joe Widdowson for two bookable offences in the space of six minutes.

Time for dreamers ...

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