Late Goals, Poor Starts & Fans Views of Southend Draw

These late late goals are becoming a bit of a habit now aren’t they, and that’s now points gained in the 88th minute or later of our last three fixtures.

Slightly more concerning though is our recent habit of starting games poorly at home, conceding the opening goal and then having to play catch up.

That’s now Fleetwood, Scunthorpe and Southend in the league plus Luton in the JPT Trophy all in the last four and half weeks.

Yes we are top, but constantly treating games as handicap matches isn’t good for our health.

Harry Lennon embraces the skipper after his last gasp leveller versus the Shrimpers.

On a more serious note though, we simply won’t keep getting away with it.

And let’s be honest, we shouldn’t have got away with it yesterday, the away keeper having a moment he will want to forget as the final whistle approached.

Big blows this past week have come in the shape of Josh Wright not getting his (ludicrous) red card overturned – meaning a three game ban – and striker Luke Norris being ruled out for up to three months injured.

Both were hugely missed yesterday versus Southend.

Our midfield too often got bypassed by long balls without Wright in there dropping off to collect the ball off of Stuart Nelson or our centre halves, and since Norris went off at Crewe the ball is simply not sticking up top.

For all their qualities, Rory Donnelly and Cody McDonald are not hold up players, both more suited by playing on the shoulder and running in behind.

Highlights from the Gills 1-1 draw with Southend.

Norris may not be prolific in terms of goals, but what he will do is occupy a back four and create space for others to run in to.

Based on that criteria, I found it a little harsh on Ben Williamson being withdrawn at half time on Tuesday.

He desperately needs a goal yes, but having hardly played you cannot expect him to pull up trees in just three quarters of an hour.

Especially in a half – versus Scunthorpe – where nobody was great.

Ultimately Justin Edinburgh’s changes worked that evening – Brennan Dickenson coming on to nod home our equaliser – and they worked again yesterday with returning skipper Doug Loft hitting a ‘worldie’ to claim a late point.

There is talk of a potential move into the loan market for a front man, which I can kind of understand, but where would that leave Willo?

Ben Williamson: Has he been given a fair crack of the whip?

Of the four front men we have he’s had the fewest chances, so would we effectively be writing him off as a poor signing?

Harsh after three months.

Anyway, back to yesterday, I caught up with Gills fan Nick and a Shrimpers supporter Blarmy last night for their thoughts on proceedings, and my Gills’ Player Ratings are at the bottom of this article.

Here’s what they had to say……

Both Luke Norris & Josh Wright were missing today, just how important are they to the side?

Nick: I’ve been very impressed with Josh since his return. Calm, composed, good range of passing & disciplined which allows more attacking players to push forward. Luke might not be the most popular player but he does a good job of occupying the centre backs which allows Rory or Cody more space. We missed him today as there was no one to hold the ball up. Every time it went forward it came straight back.

Overall did you think today’s final score was a fair reflection of the game?

Blarmy: Considering our result in the week and the Gills’ current form I would have taken a point beforehand, and yes I thought that was just about right.

Having seen an innocuous challenge lead to a straight red on Tuesday, were Southend lucky to finish with eleven men today?

Nick: The fella who looked like Stig of the Dump (I think Nick is referring to #22?) should have gone. We all knew it, as did Phil Brown who withdrew him immediately. Southend were much more physical than us today and I felt we got bullied off the ball.

Having played so well did you feel that it was two points dropped rather one gained?

Blarmy: I thought Southend more than edged the first half. The Gills looked sluggish and we capitalised. On another day we may have had a penalty and who knows? The fact we didn’t take advantage let Gills back in and they more than deserved their goal. We were lucky to finish with 10 men.

Does Justin Edinburgh need to look at bringing in a front man on loan with Luke Norris injured plus Willo & Cody struggling for form/goals?

Nick: I think we need another target man. It’s a shame John Marquis is now at Orient as he would have been perfect, but then Millwall probably wouldn’t have allowed him to join another League 1 club. I think Justin has mentioned potentially going into the loan market. I wonder where that leaves Willo though? On another note, Cody will come good this season, but it’s a waste to try and use him to hold the ball up. He’s best off the shoulder of the defence and being a pest in and around the box.

He helped the Gills out, but one mistake doesn’t make Bentley a bad keeper, far from it.

Can you explain what Daniel Bentley was doing for the late leveller? Wasn’t much pace on the ball, it didn’t change direction much, & there didn’t appear to be a strong wind?

Blarmy: From where I was it appeared to swerve in the air but it was poor positioning. I think sometimes you expect more of a threat from the opposition in the 18 yard  box at that stage of a game. Daniel Bentley is a top keeper though and will recover.

With over a third of the season gone now, can Gills sustain this push for promotion or perhaps even the title?

Nick: We’ve had an excellent start which puts us in a good position. Can we sustain it? Good question. We need a little bit of luck with injuries but the determination and never say die attitude of our squad is admirable. There’s a long way to go but I don’t see why we can’t aim for promotion if we keep up our form. Today’s performance wasn’t the best but we came away with a valuable point. What is important is that we remain calm and not get too giddy or despondent should we have a blip.

What was your take on the referee’s performance today?

Blarmy: Inept would be an understatement. The only thing consistent was his inconsistency. He constantly made baffling decisions against both sides, and lost control of the game.

Thank you to both for taking part, you can follow them on Twitter:

Nick – @NickTheGreek81

Blarmy – @NGP1978

GFC Player Ratings: Nelson 7, Jackson 6 (Osadebe 6), Egan 6.5, Lennon 6, Garmston 6 (Loft 6.5), Morris 6.5, Houghton 6 (McDonald 5), McGlashan 6, Dack 6.5, Dickenson 5, Donnelly 5

UP THE GILLS!!

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