The Gills Barmy Army marched on this morning for a 500 mile round trip to Lincolnshire to face a tall strong Scunthorpe Side, who, just promoted from League 2, are out to prove that they are not in league one just to make up the numbers.
For our 3rd league match on the new season, Neale Cooper once again chose an unchanged team from the 2 previous outings, placing Danny Spiller in a make shift forward role along with the influential Byfield. This may be only a temporary set up whilst players such as Shields and Jarvis gain 100% match fitness and new players are currently being scouted from our fellow league clubs, but what resulted was a better team performance from the Gills, outplaying a weak Scunthorpe side who never really got into the form today which they achieved against their midweek victory over Barnsley.
With the heavens open for the previous 2 hours and reluctant to ease up for the remainder of the afternoon, the game started in very difficult conditions, unseasonable for a mid-August match.
The Gills started off the brighter side with some excellent flowing passing football along the ground using the wings their advantage, opening up the flanks down the right wing and exploiting the weakness at right back that Scunthorpe shown. Unfortunately, our thin make shift squad was showing and with only Byfield up front and Spiller still playing out of position all the possession we gained could not carve out a clear goal scoring opportunity, proving once again how urgent our Striker situation is and what would cost us the 3 points at the end of the day.
The Barmy Army where in full vocal voice all afternoon and brought some great atmosphere to Glanford Park as the home fans remains quiet throughout the day, only presuming that they paid there money for a day out in the local library rather then supporting their football club.
Scunthorpe produced little of a threat in the 1st half with Brown comfortably a shot from 20 yards and the influential in form Chris Hope, on his first return to his former employers in 5 years, proved that he would give no favours to his former club, producing some class block tackles in the final 18 and showing why he is the new club captain, leading by example throughout the afternoon.
The Gills best chance was carved out by Flynn through the middle only for the resulting attack to be saved by the Scunthorpe Keeper, who never really got tested, as our possession advantage should suggest.
The half drew to a conclusion with the Barmy Army still in full vocal and singing the usual, but quite funny songs from the past, including Joey Dunne and In a Dennis Baileys Wonderland. I wonder if we remember that this is the 2005 not 1995!!!!
The second half started with both teams unchanged with a 10 minute midfield battle underway. On 55 minutes, Jarvis came on to replace Danny Spiller, who picked up a knock midweek against the vale and perhaps was showing in this game. Jarvis introduction changed the game, with him picking up the ball in the centre on the park making a 30-40 yard run towards the Scunthorpe Goal only to be hacked down 25 yards from Goal by the 2nd to last man. The resulting direct free kick just whizzed past the top left post.
Then the break come, Jarvis pace again causing trouble in the middle, got the ball through to the influential Byfield (Who had received a silly yellow card for kicking the ball away) thread through an excellent ball into the box for Hessenthaler to drill an excellent shot into the bottom right, before running to the Barmy Army and being smothered by a dozen fans and receiving a yellow card for his efforts. Hessenthaler would only last another 10 minutes before being replaced by Shields.
Again, like the 1st half, the Gills dominated many parts on the 2nd half with Jarvis getting down the left wing and Byfield first getting to the by-line only for his low drive to be blocked by the Scunthorpe defence and shortly followed by an excellent turning shot smashing against the bar from 12 yards out.
With 89 minutes on the clock, the Gills looked comfortable for the win and disaster struck with Byfield going in for a late tackle and clipping Peter Beagrie to earn a 2nd yellow card of the day. The Gills seemed to go into a panic and defended very deep. A long ball down the left and a low cross into the centre see Scunthorpe snatch a goal in the dying seconds and we seemed to have lost our cool at the back. What resulted was a bombardment of attack from Scunthorpe who could smell victory and our entire 10 where pinned back in the final 3rd for what was 6 minutes of added time, but the Gills held on and took a point back to Kent.
A result which we probably would of all taken prior kick off but with the possession domination we showed and a better overall team performance a sickly feeling was felt by all that we didn’t bring back the full 3 points.
A note about the referee needs to be made. A very poor display throughout and shows that when you drop a league, not only do you see a different standard of football but the standard of referring is even poorer and reminds us that when we were here 6 years ago you have to face the facts that you will get whistle-happy jobsworths, who just wont let the game flow and I have a feeling we will see more of this standard as the season progresses,
Unbeaten in the opening 3 games is a great start to our season and we are plucking results where we are not playing at 100% and if we can find a couple of good players to fill the gaps I can see a challenge for top 6 this year.