So another nine months of football has come and gone, and for Gillingham supporters it’s surely been a season of disappointment and frustration yet ultimately final day relief.
But who stood out and who struggled throughout a campaign in which we peaked incredibly early before desperately clinging on to our League 1 status after a mid-season managerial change?
Here’s my assessment of each player…..
Stuart Nelson – 6: Nels had what may have been one of his most challenging seasons at the club, having seen himself out of the side on more than one occasion. He struggled at the start of the campaign, but recovered to see off the challenge of Jonathan Bond twice, before again losing his place to Tomas Holy in March. Seemed to go from the sublime to the ridiculous at times, but stood up to be counted on the final day, and featured in all four of the club’s clean sheets.
Tomas Holy – 5.5: Was Adrian Pennock’s first signing, and after waiting patiently he made his debut at home to Peterborough. Unlucky to be beaten late on after a fairly impressive debut, but ultimately conceded 12 goals in his six appearances. Plenty of potential there for the future, but inexperience in English football told before he was dropped for the crucial final day.
Ryan Jackson – 5.5: Started off great, with goals and assists in the opening few games. Sadly after this he seemed blighted by the same issues that hindered the end to his 2015-16. Opted for playing safe and got caught out defensively too often as a lack of confidence seemed to take hold, he was shoe horned into centre back towards the end of the season with mixed success.
Max Ehmer – 6: Of the seven goals he scored during the season, the Gills won six and drew one, meaning 19 points from a possible 21 in games in which he netted. Sadly, his form and confidence both seemed to desert him after taking the captains armband in January, but he was not helped with the constant changes around him.
Deji Oshilaja – 6: Not always at his best throughout a tough season, but he always stuck to his task whether at centre back as part of a two or a three, at left back or at wing back. Two goals in a week as January flicked into February could now be classed as crucial as it earned a point in both games. Will improve further in a settled system.
Paul Konchesky – 5: Sadly never really got going in a Gills shirt. Arrived in the summer to much hype, but despite the odd glimpse of his undoubted class he looked very much the player at the end of a long career. Released mid-season and now at non-league Billericay Town.
Bailey Cargill – 7: Sadly we saw not nearly enough of the young Bournemouth loanee, but his all too short spell was very impressive. Featuring ten times, we won five games in that spell, keeping three clean sheets. A stat all the more impressive as we kept only one more all season, on the final day.
Zesh Rehman – 6: Showed his composure and experience on debut versus Southend, but at times seemed to be fighting a losing battle. However, despite the struggles of the team, he still featured in three of the club’s four victories since his arrival, and in only 10 appearances.
Chris Herd – 4.5: Seemingly signed as a defensive midfielder in the autumn, he hardly featured there and spent more time on the treatment table. The only game of his 14 appearances that we won was when he was withdrawn at half time at home to Scunthorpe – 0-2 down before winning 3-2 without him on the pitch – after one of the most inept centre half displays I’ve witnessed.
Scott Wagstaff – 6: A season sadly blighted by plenty of niggly injuries, but Waggy gave his all whenever fit and wherever he was played. Featuring at right back, centre midfield and at right or left wing back, he seemingly never played as a winger, but netted a vital late leveller away at Chesterfield in September.
Jake Hessenthaler – 6: Another campaign where he featured plenty, but you always seem to feel like you want a little bit more from Jake. Always neat and tidy with the ball and a hard worker without it, you just feel he could grab more games by the scruff of the neck.
Lee Martin – 6: It is a miracle he featured at all this season after his horror pre-season ankle break and dislocation, let alone playing 17 times. Not helped by being consistently played out of position, but he will be hoping for a better 2017-18.
Emmanuel Osadebe – 5.5: Started off great in the opening day win at Southend, but like the side that seem to be the peak of his campaign. Sadly seemed to develop an attitude problem after this, unfortunately his campaign may be remembered more for spats with fans on social media and seemingly offering a fan out at Charlton, rather than his football ability. Lots to learn.
Elliot List – 5.5: A youngster who may have a bright future in the game, but he’s been here two seasons now and still isn’t a regular. Not helped by the system employed by the manager, but if he is here next term then you perhaps feel progress has to start happening rather quickly.
Bradley Dack 6.5: Flashes of his brilliance and sparkle throughout, but Dacky cut a frustrated and unhappy figure for the most part. Scoring at Watford, a brilliant free kick versus Sheffield United and his solo effort at home to Wimbledon were fleeting moments of genius rather than the norm of 2015-16, and two rather petulant dismissals indicated that he perhaps didn’t really want to be at the football club.
Mark Byrne – 7: According to plenty he put in perhaps the best individual display of the entire campaign – not to mention netting an absolute belter – during the 2-1 League Cup win at Watford in August, and in his first season at this level he’s not let anyone down at all. One of the few real positives during Ady Pennock’s difficult reign, he can be proud of his efforts.
Josh Wright – 7.5: Didn’t live up to the standards he reached in 2015-16 during the early part of the campaign, but in a side that was struggling for form. However, he netted three times during a difficult autumn for the club, and has been a revelation in 2017. Reacting superbly to losing the captaincy, he has hit 11 goals in 20 games this calendar year – including THAT remarkable hat trick of penalties – which have played a huge part in keeping us up.
Joe Quigley – 5.5: Sadly suffered a bad knee injury shortly after arriving in the summer. Did great to get back playing before the end of the season, and netted in the 1-1 draw with Millwall, but on the whole he looked slightly fatigued during his second spell. Will benefit from a strong pre-season wherever he is.
Rory Donnelly – 5: Can rarely be found wanting in terms of effort, but Rory sadly had one of those campaigns all strikers dread. Netted a great equaliser at home to Swindon in August, but up until his only other goal of the season in April, he was unfortunately remembered more for his nameless shirt and red card at Wimbledon in October.
Frank Nouble – 6: Another who occupied various roles during his stay at the club, burly frontman Nouble scored three times in his 13 game spell. A double at home to Brackley kept us in the FA Cup – for an additional game at least – and he hit the crucial first in our 3-0 win over Rochdale. Released in January.
Cody McDonald – 7: Despite playing the role of lone striker for a large part of the campaign – one which he himself admitted he had to learn – Cody still hit 12 goals in a struggling side. Now safely embedded in the top ten of all time scorers at the club, you know what you get with the hard working front man. He ended strongly with five in his final 12 games, and his two beauties at home to Bristol Rovers played a massive part in us escaping the drop.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas – 6:5: In terms of ability he was probably worth a rating of seven, but his attitude perhaps only a six. A player of undoubted talent, he scored crucial goals during the first half of the season. Was sent back to QPR shortly after Ady Pennock arrived, a decision that seemed more baffling the longer the season went on with us struggling for goals and still paying his wages.
Josh Parker – 6.5: Met with pretty much derision from the Gills’ faithful upon arriving in January, pacy front man Parker may actually have been the most effective of Ady Pennock’s signings. Yes he has netted only two goals, but his attitude has been superb on the whole and his willingness to work hard and run in behind has been as refreshing as it has been appreciated.
Honourable mentions to the likes Jonathan Bond (5), Mitchell Dickenson (6), Jamie O’Hara (4), Bradley Garmston (5), Harry Cornick (5), Oliver Muldoon (4) and Darren Oldaker (6) who all featured fleetingly throughout the campaign.
I’m sure nobody will agree with all of my ratings, but I hope you enjoyed the read nonetheless.
UP THE GILLS!!