Gilly Don’t Be A Hero

I don’t know whether to apologise to Paper Lace for mangling their song title, or to anyone I’ve given flashbacks to of that dreadful song.

Before I start on this game, an apology to our favourite steward Al, who we chatted to after the last game, but I forgot to mention.

So, after the great win on Tuesday night against top of the table MK Dons which saw us jump up to third in the league, we fast forward to today and our game against the latest top of the table team. Which this time is Gillingham. Yes, that Gillingham, the ones who for the first half of last season were the worst team in the division, even worse than we were.

Only for them to pick up; 1 – some of our players, 2 – a new American owner who seemed to know what they were doing, and 3 – a load of points which saw them move off the bottom of the table and drift up to a place of safety quite a few games before we became safe ourselves.

Our home game against them last season was originally due to be played in September but was postponed when the Queen popped her clogs. The rearranged game took place on a Tuesday night in November. That game finished 0-0, and if it wasn’t the single worst game of football I’ve ever watched, then it was certainly in the top two. The two teams that night could still have been playing today and they wouldn’t have scored.

The away game in February saw us lose 1-0, but it also saw us take a massive away support to Gillingham, a crowd I believe that was our biggest ever away support for a league game.

And Gillingham have been 1-0-win specialists of late. Their last four league games have all finished as 1-0 wins to them, and they are the only team with a 100% record in League Two, and the only team yet to concede a goal in the division. They did concede a goal in the Carabao Cup, but they did win that game against Championship side Southampton. There last two 1-0 victories have been clinched courtesy of Ashley Nadesan goals, assisted by Tom Nichols. Those two names seem vaguely familiar to me. Does anyone else recognise them?

It looks to be a nice sunny day out there as we head down to the ground, nice and early so I can get a programme. (No, sorry, I just can’t let this go yet.) Stopping to get decent soft drinks on the way as the club has now switched to the evil empire of Coke, they sell nothing that is drinkable. Take the usual pitch shot for this piece and settle down ready for the game and see which randoms we have sat next to us for this game.

The away end was packed by the early time I got there, and the Gillingham fans were making lots of noise, I could hear them from halfway down Wakehurst Drive when walking in. The Redz Bar and Fan Zone areas were packed. I had noticed the ice cream van previously, but not the fresh donuts van. Both were difficult to resist today, and I’m sure temptation will get the better of me before long. Spoke to Al on the way in this week as well as after the game. (There you go mate, two mentions.) there were a surprisingly large amount of people wandering around in Arsenal and Chelsea kits.

Speaking of kit, Gillingham where in white shirts, with black arms, and black vertical stripes that faded towards the bottom, black shorts, and black socks. Almost as if they had bought a job lot of Newcastle shirts that had started to fade in the wash.

Nice early shot from Danilo Orsi on target, and an early booking for a Gillingham defender a couple of minutes later for going through the back of Orsi. From the resulting free kick, we win a corner, and then another, before Orsi puts an effort wide at the far post.

Up the other end and ball one disappears out in the corner between the east marquee and the food stand from a Will Wright clearance.

We build up some good pressure down the left-hand side and there are a couple of shots that are blocked, and then a ball played through hits a Gillingham defender’s arm, and we get a penalty. Someone behind me shouts ‘don’t stutter step,’ but Don Telford does, and his tame effort is easily saved, as is Orsi’s follow up shot.

Straight after more decent work sees the ball back in the box and a shot is saved for another corner. Later on, a Wright cross is headed over for a corner, and it ends up over the KRL Logistics stand for ball two gone. And a minute later ball three disappears over the east marquee from a Gillingham hoofed clearance.

Five minutes before the end of the half and a long thrown from Gillingham is headed back out, but a couple of neat passes see the ball crossed in, and it hits Harry Ransom and trickles in to give Gillingham a 1-0 lead against the run of play.

This seems to rattle Crawley a bit and there are quite a few misplaced passes before the half time whistle, which comes after two minutes of added time, and the teams go in with the score as 0-1. It sounds like last season’s half time playlist is back, but it is saved by some Stone Roses before the teams come out for the second half.

It’s a slower start than in the first half, but the first chance is set up as Telford plays a ball through to Orsi whose shot is saved. Another chance a couple of minutes later is dragged just wide of the far post.

Further into the half and ball four goes over the Eden Utilities stand from a headed clearance and we get a corner from which Ransom’s header is cleared. At the other end, a Gillingham shot is saved by Corey Addai for a corner. From which there is all kinds of chaos, and poor defensive headers before a shot is tipped onto the bar by Addai before an offside flag goes up and relieves the pressure.

Back up the other end good play from Nick Tsaroulla sees the ball come out to Wright, but his shot is high, wide, and ugly and ball five disappears over the Eden Utilities stand. There looked a good shout for a possible penalty. free kick on the edge of the area as Tsaroulla is dragged down but the ref waves it away.

There is lots of good possession, with no real end product. A ball played through by Aaron Henry nearly wrong foots everyone but sneaks just past the post. Gillingham make a whole set of substitutions, including taking both former Crawley strikers off.

Tsaroulla is dragged down again, but further away from the box and the ref feels it is safe to give a free kick for this one. But it is wasted. The ball comes back in, and a Ransom shot deflects off a Gillingham defender and flies over the Eden Utilities stand for ball six of the day. Klaidi Lolos then has a shot from outside the area that is well saved for another corner, which is wasted again.

Four added minutes are indicated, and the crowd is announced as 4,310 with 1,356 away fans, and Ronan Darcy is given the sponsor’s man of the match. By now the quality has gone off a bit and it peters out to finish as a 0-1 loss, Gillingham stretch their 1-0 league win sequence to five games and stay top of the league, and we slip to our first defeat of the season, and down to eighth in the league. An own goal and a penalty miss decide what could easily have been a result the other way, especially looking at the match stats.

The last couple of minutes Darcy and the Gillingham number 17 were having a heated argument all over the pitch, and after the final whistle there was a bit of a melee in the middle of the pitch. Something obviously said something to Addai as he was steaming mad, and if his haymaker had connected there might have been a decapitated Gillingham player dead on the pitch. There were two bookings, but only to Crawley players (Darcy and Addai), and no punishment for any Gillingham players who were throwing punches of their own.

There will be a bit of a gap until my next blog piece. We are away a lot over the next six weeks (I know, piss poor planning and all that), and so I’m going to miss four of our next five home games, only getting to the Sutton game, and missing the mickey mouse cup game against Charlton, and the league games against Newport, Tranmere, and Hollywood FC. So, see you in five weeks’ time.

Come on you reds.

Lucky To Get Nil

A Tuesday night game. It shouldn’t have been a Tuesday night game, as this was the game that was supposed to take place the weekend after the queen snuffed it. At the time it was disappointing as Gillingham were on a poor run of form, and I felt that it would have been likely by the time it did get played they would have turned that around and be on a good run of form, as happened to us last season when two games were postponed due to Covid protocols. But, as it turned out their form has got even worse, and by the time the game actually came along we were above them in the league and on a much better run than they were.

We started the game in nineteenth, four places and six points above Gillingham who were in the relegation zone. This was a drop in the league for us, as out away game at Walsall’s Poundland Stadium produced a Poundland result, and after taking an early lead, we let an equaliser in a couple of minutes later, Ludwig Francillette got sent off before half time, and Walsall got an injury time winner.

There was a brief pause in the constant rain we’ve had recently as we made it to the ground in time to sit down before kick-off, and I managed to get a programme (no obvious errors – apart from the ongoing lack of a league table and the issues with the season overview pages), and we saw Al who was prowling up and down the east stand in front of us for the game.

Glenn Morris, the much-loved keeper of last season is out on loan at Gillingham, which meant he couldn’t play against us and give us a hand by chucking a couple in. But we did have Jake Hessenthaler playing for us who we signed from Gillingham a few years ago.

Gillingham bought a large following with them, and most of the away terrace looked full. Not bad for a miserable November night. They would be heard at regular intervals during the game. Gillingham were wearing an all yellow kit for the big game of the day (forget this World Cup rubbish), and there were a couple of times during the first half that they may have been confused due to the yellow, as it appeared that a couple of wayward passes were straight to where they could see the stewards in their Day-Glo yellow coats.

We got an early free kick a few yards outside the area. Remarkably, Jack Powell managed to get the ball past the wall, only for it to also go just past the post. It took until just before the quarter of an hour mark for the first ball to disappear out over the west stand from a hoofed clearance from the Gillingham keeper.

The away fans were giving the officials lots of grief from early on. Our fans weren’t. I was wondering whether I was in the right place. Just past the half way point in the half, ball two disappeared out over the Eden Utilities terrace from a very wayward shot by a Gillingham striker. The first half went quickly, and three minutes added time were shown. Back to normal, and none of these ten minutes added rubbish we’ve seen in the World Cup so far.

Half time came with it being 0-0. It went with the usual same five songs, and both sides came back out at the same time.

Crawley started the second half brightly with a couple of early corners, both of which saw the ball go back out to the corner taker, only for the second ball to be the definition of disappointing, or non-existent.

The large Gillingham contingent are claiming penalties all over the place and are not impressed at all with the officials. The cries of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ were oft repeated, along with ‘w@nker’. (OK, I’m assuming they were directed at the ref and not Jack Powell.) It is becoming more and more like an alternative universe, as the away fans are stealing our lines.

Joel Lynch is named as the sponsor’s man of the match. I’m not sure why, but I suppose they had to pick someone. They didn’t bother announcing the crowd though. I had to look it up today, it is down as being 3,284, and I reckon there must have been 7-800 away fans.

There were another three minutes added time, which was less than expected considering the volume of substitutions made during the second half. I suppose that the ref was working along the lines of it wasn’t a World Cup game, he was sick of the abuse, and he’d had more than enough of the rubbish being played. He wasn’t the only one.

Ball three disappeared out over the Eden Utilities terrace during added time from a headed clearance, and then the ref blew the final whistle and it finished 0-0, with both teams lucky to get nil.

It was the first home draw of the season, so I was interested to see what the post-match draw music was going to be. They play The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry” for losses, and Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” for wins. Turns out they don’t have a draw song. They play “Boys Don’t Cry” again. They really could do with some imagination in their playlist. Or even some Imagination. “Just An Illusion” perhaps, ‘in all this confusion’.

Anyway, a point, not sure a point helped either side, yes, it’s a point more, but both sides stay in the same positions in the league they started the game in.

That’s it for November games, we don’t have a game at the weekend as we’re out of the FA Cup, so the next game is another home affair, against Swindon Town on the 3rd December. I need to get there early for that one I think, as it was one of two games where all the programmes sold out before I got to the ground last season due to the volume of away fans.