Why did we go to Gillingham?

PUBLISHED: 17:37 02 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:34 10 September 2010

Zöe Fail, Capital Canaries

I am really cross. No, make that livid. I've just got in after the game at Gillingham and still can't believe what I witnessed at the Priestfield today! My sore throat is proof of my anger from all the shouting at the referee.

I am really cross. No, make that livid. I've just got in after the game at Gillingham and still can't believe what I witnessed at the Priestfield today! My sore throat is proof of my anger from all the shouting at the referee. I know I was not alone in my opinions either, judging from the noise emanating from the away end.

The day had started well - it was sunny, my dad got served quickly in The Livingstone Arms (he had “Bar Presence” as Tim put it) and I'd found a parking space two minutes from the pub.

Then the warning signals began. As we walked to the ground, Tim's eight year old daughter, Amy, summed it up, as she deftly walked around the dog poo littering the pavement, “I don't like Gillingham.” It had taken her all of ninety minutes to decide that about Gillingham (but not the ninety minutes). I'm not a fan either - I've always maintained the best thing about the Medway Towns is they have a decent railway service to take you away! Can't think of anything else in their favour; guess this will offend some people but hey...

Sitting behind me, one man made a pertinent observation that he was glad this fixture was today, because it was warm and dry; and not in February. The Medway Towns in the depths of winter are even more depressing than in glorious sunshine. Let's hope for our return on Tuesday the weather remains dry and reasonably warm.

I digress, the game. No programmes - they'd sold out - by 2:30pm! Apparently, according to the tannoy announcement, someone had made an error with the order numbers; a steward told me they'd also sold out against Millwall the other week. Someone needs to have a word; you need to order a few more when Norwich come to town. City have fans - lots of 'em! (1,434 ventured into this dismal part of Kent).

We sat in brilliant sunshine and battered the Gillingham defence for the opening thirty minutes, with opportunities for goals squandered! It was incredibly frustrating. We saw glimpses of Semi's ability; yet again he lacked consistency and exasperated the away fans, until his substitution, when Hughes made a welcome return to the midfield, though displacing Smith in the process. Wes toyed with the Gills defence to no avail, slowing the pace on occasions.

Then the game turned. Forster was alleged to have brought down Weston. I believe it was a performance worthy of Olympic Gold in the diving pool - someone should tell him the Black Lion Centre (with swimming pool) is but a short walk down the road from Priestfield. Even the Gills web-site match report states '… Weston raced through on goal, appeared to be brought down by Forster…', which does little to support the ref's decision.

I've wanted to see Rudd perform between the sticks since the opening day debacle, but this was never the way I would have chosen. I, for one, do not want a repeat of the Joe Lewis situation; in that we have a young keeper so should try him when the opportunities arise. It would be disgraceful to spend all that time and effort on this young man's career to allow yet another team to reap the rewards from our Academy's input.

Prior to the subsequent penalty, Gillingham hadn't really had a decent attack on goal. Rudd committed himself to going the wrong way and Gillingham were ahead, much to the disgust of the away support.

Credit to the boys and they continued to attack the goal, to no avail, until half-time. Chants of 'One-nil to the referee' amongst others (too rude to put on here) rang out of the away end. I was reliably informed the Radio Norfolk commentators were also more than unhappy about the linesmen and the number of supposed off-sides not given.

The second half was equally frustrating. Korey Smith tried really hard but, out of position, he floundered and mid-field suffered because of this enforced reshuffle. Opportunities for both teams to score were wasted and Lambert had better make sure we practise free kicks as they were dire. Some of the boys in my class could do better than that, I'm sure.

Then, the injury time miracle occurred. Amidst the kerfuffle in the box following Holt's header landing on the bar Russell scored! Cue much noise in the away end, and the home fans silenced. For the second week running our opponents had thrown away three points. In the excitement my right ear got bashed by the guy sitting next to me as he leapt to his feet with exhilarated joy! The away end were, indeed, 'Delia's Barmy Army', as had been sung by a few earlier in the game.

This much needed and deserved point along with an unexpectedly quiet one-way system through Maidstone on the way home, ensured relief and a wry smile.

The Gillingham manager, Mark Stimson, was complimentary about our side's performance, when interviewed on Radio Kent after the match. No negative comments were made and he remained neutral over the penalty decision so fair play to him.

During the second half, Amy questioned why she had chosen to come to this particular game with her dad. We die-hard City fans often ask ourselves the same thing, week in, week out. Answers on a postcard please…

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