With quarter of the season gone, D3D4 looks at how the Gills have done in League One so far…
When Gillingham Chairman Paul Scally announced the release of double season season tickets a little red flag would have been waving frantically in the front lobe of most gills fans brains as they realised that something was amiss. This unusal offer was to initiate a short term cash injection into the club to cover court costs as Scally fought a legal battle with a catering company for breach of contract.
It also meant that money was going to be tight for Manager Ade Pennock as he looked to build his own team ahead of the new campaign. Cody MacDonald left for Wimbledon and last seasons top scorer and star midfielder, Josh wright, would also leave after having his contract mutually terminated following a falling out with Pennock.
Coming in were players like Alex Lacey and Tom Eaves from Yeovil, Gabriel Zakuani from Northampton and Conor Wilkinson from Bolton none of whom stood out as players that would light up the Preistfield.
August – PL 4, W 0, D 2, L 2
The opening match saw a fortunate 0-0 draw at newly promote Doncaster followed by two 1-0 defeats first at home to Bradford and then away at MK Dons as it became clear that the Gills were going to struggle for goals. The next match, at home to rivals Southend, bunked that trend but still failed to yield the first win of the season. Tom Eaves scored a superb hat-trick but some uncharacteristically poor defending meant that the match finished as a 3-3 draw but at least August ended with some goals.
September PL 7, W 1, D 2, L 4
The new month failed to bring a change of fortunes as Gillingham lost at home to a surprisingly good Shrewsbury 2-1 before being easily beaten 3–0 at Oxford. There was a lack of pace and penetration to their play and this was being clearly reflected in the results as pressure on Ade Pennock grew.
Another battling display away at goal shy Wimbledon saw them come away with a 1-1 draw and a decent point before an excellent defensive display allowed the Gills to pick up their first win of the season at home to Charlton. Tomas Holy made a number of fine saves to make sure that Tom Eaves 54th minute strike was enough to grab their first three point of the season. The feel good factor did not last as a trip to Rochdale, another side struggling at the wrong end of the table, saw a hapless display end in a 3-0 defeat. Eaves was also sent of for an elbow which added insult to injury as he would now miss the next three games. This was the end of Pennock as he left by mutual consent the day before another 0-0 draw at The Preistfield, this time against Scunthorpe United.
The month ended as it began , with a single goal defeat, this time away at Blackburn to leaves the Gills managerless and in the bottom four.
As Autumn truly sets in Gillingham are in all sorts of trouble. They need a new manager and quickly as an approach for Mansfield’s Steve Evans was rebuffed by the Nottinghamshire club and another 1-0 defeat at home to Portsmouth leaves the Gills second from bottom with just 7 points and only 6 goals scored (4 by Tom Eaves) only Wimbledon have scored less in League One so far. With games against Peterborough, Wigan and Rotherham to come, October looks like being another tough month for the Kent club. The home game on 21st October at home to Northampton already looks like it could be a relegation 6 pointer and if they don’t find more goals this season could be over before it has even begun for Gillingham.
With the exception of the Rochdale defeat Tomas Holy has looked good and is the main reason for them beating Charlton. Gabriel Zakuani has been a solid addition but there has been few stand out candidates for the Gills so far.
Most Surprising player?
Tom Eaves has already equalled his goals tally from last season and everything good has gone through the big striker. Liam Nash has shown promise since signing from non-league Maldon & Tiptree but is yet to find the net.
Performance against expectations?
Few Gillingham fans thought that this would be anything other than a season of struggle and they have been proved right so far. Those that thought they could push for a top half finish have been sadly mistaken. It will be a dog fight now for the Gills and most fans would probably bite your hand off for a 20th place finish come May.
words James Richards