Gills’ strong spine paying dividends

So after suffering a small case of the wobbles at home from the middle of February until the end of March, it seems as though normal service may now have been resumed.

Today made it back to back home wins and also back to back clean sheets, coming against two teams that still had aspirations of the Play Offs in Bradford and Rochdale.

That dream – which it probably only ever was – fizzled out for the Gills a good few weeks back, but what today shows is that Justin Edinburgh and his staff are putting together a side, and a squad, capable of taking on and beating the best that League One has to offer.

Edinburgh has been true to his word regarding everyone getting a chance as the season approaches its end, because pretty much the whole of his squad – Danny Galbraith one glaring exception to the rule – has got minutes as he assesses his options for 2015-16.

Today Brennan Dickenson got his first league start since January, and in an unfamiliar wing back role he may have taken a little while to adjust, but as the game wore on his performance improved accordingly.

Dickenson didn’t let anyone down on his first league start since January.

On the other side was Jermaine McGlashan, and with Bradley Dack in behind the front pairing of John Marquis and Cody McDonald it was pretty clear that Justin had decided attack was the best form of defence.

And so it proved, as the home side barely gave their visitors time to breathe in a frenetic opening that saw Dack head them in front inside the opening quarter of an hour.

In fairness, apart from a ten minute spell just before the interval – when Leon Legge heroically put his body on the line to prevent a certain leveller – and then for a few fleeting moments after they were reduced to nine men, Rochdale rarely threatened Glenn Morris’ goal.

Big Leon Legge was RainhamEndViews’ choice for MOM.

In fact the only save I recall Glenn making was tipping over a long range free kick midway through the second period.

That they had so little impact in forward areas was in no small part down to a back three that was marshalled so impressively by ‘Leggy’, and in front of them Aaron Morris – alongside skipper Doug Loft – put in another superb display in his holding role.

For all of Edinburgh’s experiments over the last month or so, there also seems to be a consistent spine forming to his side.

John Egan and Max Ehmer have been superb in tandem since the New Year, but big Leon has come in for the last three games and fitted in seamlessly.

In front of them Loft and Morris seem to be making the central midfield berths their own, and for all the frustration that Loft causes among some fans (myself included at times I will happily admit) you cannot question his commitment to the cause.

Since returning from injury Aaron Morris has been a revelation in the holding role.

Then up front McDonald and Marquis have been virtual ever presents since the middle of January.

Back to today’s game, it was great to see us actually get some help from an official for a change, but in fairness to our old buddy Mr D’Urso he – from where we were sat – had absolutely no choice but to send off both away players for clear red card offences.

Their gaffer Keith Hill may be bleating on about how the man in the middle cost his side anything the game, but in truth they deserved nothing as they were out fought, out thought and out played by everyone in a blue shirt.

And when they realised that wasn’t working they resorted to trying to maim both Dacky and Cody.

But the Gills stood up to it, and with that showed everyone that they can compete in footballing terms when required, but they are also not afraid to mix it when things get a little rough.

With two games to go, we could invariably end the season six unbeaten and in the top ten.

That, along with the work put in first under the ‘Gang of Four’ and continued under Justin, would represent a very satisfactory campaign.

We can look forward to 2015-16 with real optimism.

GFC Player Ratings: Morris 7, Egan 7, Legge 8, Ehmer 7, McGlashan 7 (Bell 6), Loft 6 (Pritchard 6), Morris 7, Dickenson 6, Dack 7, McDonald 6 (Norris 6), Marquis 8

UP THE GILLS!

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