So that’s that then, yesterday’s 1-0 victory over Colchester United means that the Gills’ football for 2015 is officially done.
It’s been quite a twelve months in Kent, the MEMS Priestfield having seen a change of manager, a caretaker ‘Gang of Four‘ and the emergence of a very good young squad and one potential star.
Not to mention plenty of games, goals, highs and lows.
But who has so far stood out during 2015-16 in a blue shirt?
Here is my look at each player who has featured significantly this season, a half term report if you will.
Stuart Nelson – 9: Told he could find another club in the summer, the 2012-13 POTY got his head down and worked hard during pre-season after an inconsistent 2014-15. Simply magnificent so far, Nelson has been right back to his commanding best, consistently making saves he has no right to make. His badge thumping and clear love for the club makes me love him even more.
Ryan Jackson – 9: Without being told he has never previously operated at this level, you simply wouldn’t know. Runs for fun, has a throw in like a homing missile and thighs like giant oaks, Jacko has been a cracking addition – more so as he was on a free – to the right hand side of defence. In recent weeks he has added goals to his game by scoring two absolute belters.
Bradley Garmston – 7.5: After such an effort to secure the lad in the summer, he couldn’t get in the side early on. However, he bided his time, and when his chance came he has taken it. Him and Brennan Dickenson compete well for the left back berth, and it has only benefitted the team. Still sometimes looks rushed in possession, but that has improved with a consistent run of games.
John Egan – 8.5: This lad simply does what it says on the tin. I am not just being a biased Gills fan when I say I cannot remember the last time he had a real bad game. He wins most things in the air, has added passing out from the back to his game, and has already notched four times this term. Securing him to another contract is absolutely vital to the club.
Max Ehmer – 7: As at any club, as a fan you always tend to prefer certain players, and there doesn’t always have to be a real reason why. For me, Max is one of those. It just feels right when he runs out alongside John Egan, and it has not happened nearly enough this season. However, when called upon he has been solid if unspectacular – again that may be due to not getting a run of games – and can still boast a 55% win ratio from his 11 appearances.
Jordan Houghton – 7: Talked about very highly when he arrived in the summer on loan from Chelsea, he started the season on fire. In fact, he was one of the first names on the sheet during our flying start to the campaign, impressing with both his work rate and quick feet. Since the autumn though he has hardly featured, and a return to his parent club looks highly likely.
Doug Loft – 7: Not a bad player, not by any stretch of the imagination – and I think he clearly wants to do right by the club – but there’s something that just doesn’t seem to fit. He came back from his pre-season injury and scored a couple of vital goals versus Blackpool and Southend and looked to then be pushing on, but as captain he simply cannot do what he did against the league leaders Burton. It was such a shame as he seemed to be turning a corner up until then.
Jake Hessenthaler – 8.5: Labelled by some as our ‘worst midfielder‘ when he entered the fray on the opening day, Jake has stepped out of his dad’s shadow this season and shown what a good player he is. Will play anywhere for the team, his passing ability has always been clear, but this season he has added a steel to his game and also a willingness to run in behind. Four goals to date, all crucial, are testament to that.
Cody McDonald – 6.5: So often the go-to man at the club, Cody has had a season sadly interrupted by niggling injury after niggling injury. He has still featured on 19 occasions, but there have been few starts and ultimately fewer goals. Such a shame because every time he looks to be making progress he has broken down again.
Jermaine McGlashan – 6: Pace to burn and a box of tricks, he is a game changer at his flying best, but the Glash is probably the one who has suffered the most from the Gills operating with the midfield diamond. Seven starts in all competitions tells its own story, and he will be surely hoping for more minutes in 2016.
Dominic Samuel – 8: Brought to the club to cover the injury to Luke Norris, he has been a revelation. His hold up and link play is first class – as shown by his assist for Dacky versus Rochdale – his touch is spot on, he is quick enough, and most importantly he knows where the net is. Four from eight is a cracking return, and he is already guaranteed cult status at the club for his recent match winning double at the New Den. Fingers crossed we can keep him for the rest of the season.
Aaron Morris – 8: Whether he is played at right back, centre back or in the middle of midfield, he always gives his all. I picked him out as a key player at the start of the season, and he is now starting to prove that in his favoured position. Would like to sometimes see him be a little braver in possession, but in fairness to him we have other players for that.
Emmanuel Osadebe – 7.5: Currently living the dream of every young school child, Paddy has been my surprise package of the season so far. He seems to always be playing the game like he is still on the playground, sprinting around with a huge smile on his face. He still clearly has a lot to learn, but he’s been a breath of fresh air, and his goal versus Bury will live long in the memory.
Rory Donnelly – 7.5: Like his mate Osadebe, he always seems to be enjoying himself when he plays, and his work rate and running off the ball are first class. All his goals came in one burst though, as having taken ten games to open his account he went and got six in four games. Has since gone eleven without finding the net, but he has still contributed in other ways with his tireless running.
Luke Norris – 8: Started the campaign in superb fashion, netting three times in his first nine games, and generally being a menace to defenders up and down the country. His hold up and link play was brilliant, and played no small part in helping both Bradley Dack and Rory Donnelly net so freely. His ankle injury was such a shame, and it was no coincidence that our form dropped off a little in his absence. Great to have him back.
Bradley Dack – 9: Such was his form in the opening month, it was somewhat of a relief that he is still our player now. Five in five in August helped us top the division, and he hasn’t looked back since. Still needs to cut out the silly bookings that will cost him minutes, but that is part of his make up and the player he is. Has four in his last seven to make it 12 for the season, which will mean more unwanted attention on our long haired talisman.
Brennan Dickenson – 7.5: Having seemed to be on his way out of the club last season, he has superbly reinvented himself as an attacking left back. His delivery from advanced areas and set pieces is generally second to none, and he has already claimed plenty of assists this season. Still learning the role defensively, but he and Bradley Garmston provide healthy competition for one another.
Harry Lennon – 8.5: Absolutely superb during an autumn loan spell that consisted of eight appearances, in which time the Gills lost only once. Built up an instant rapport alongside both John Egan and Max Ehmer, scored two crucial goals – against Chesterfield and Scunthorpe – and left with a 75% win ratio.
Josh Wright – 9: For me he has turned out to be the signing of the summer by the club. Can count the number of times he’s wasted possession on one hand, his composure and steadying influence in midfield has been a joy to watch, as has his range of passing. A bit stop start of late due to a wrongful dismissal and illness, but showed great courage to play – and play so well – at Millwall so soon after the death of his beloved Nan.
Deji Oshilaja – 8: Another cracking loan addition at the back, and like Harry Lennon one of the reasons that Max Ehmer hasn’t played as much as I had envisaged. Not the tallest for a centre back, that doesn’t stop him winning pretty much everything in the air. After a persistent knee injury kept him out for a couple of months, he is now back to somewhere near his best, and has netted three times so far.
Special mentions to Glenn Morris, who has yet to make an appearance due to the form of Stuart Nelson, but who has proved himself at the end of last season to be an able deputy, and also to Ben Williamson, who has gone out on loan to Cambridge and got himself three goals during a seven game spell.
I am sure both will have a part to play as the season continues.
So there it is, my take on who has stood out the most so far.
Let’s hope by the time I get round to the end of season edition we have something substantial to celebrate.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL.
UP THE GILLS!!