GillsConnect News Desk

Dateline: SUNDAY 13 AUGUST 2017



Gills starting eleven: Tomas Holy, Luke O’Neill, Alex Lacey (Tom Eaves, 63), Gabriel Zakuani, Max Ehmer, Connor Ogilvie, Mark Byrne (Liam Nash, 89), Josh Wright, Lee Martin, Josh Parker (Scott Wagstaff, 89) and Conor Wilkinson

Unused subs: Tom Hadler, Jake Hessenthaler, Darren Oldaker and Greg Cundle.

Gills started slowly and continued slowly in a playing mode that must have defied any known coaching description. Knowing this was the first home match of the season, and it followed a battling defensive display at Doncaster, some leeway by fans was given for the first twenty minutes or so.

By that time Bradford must have thought it was Christmas, cutting through a resolute Gills defence with ease, a situation that you just knew would not survive the full ninety minutes. The midfield was non-existent and so the ball was continually at the Gills defence to deal with and it took just nineteen minutes for the first opponents goal at Priestfield in the new season.

Bradford went close as Timothée Dieng weaved his way into the box, past a couple of defenders, but Tomas Holy saved bravely and was equal to his deflected shot. Alex Lacey, on his Gills debut, made a brilliant clearance as Dominic Poleon got behind the Gills defence and looked to cut the ball back.

Bradford pressure finally broke Gills and they took the lead. Winger Alex Jones had already threatened down the right earlier and he was running loose again and reaching the byline he easily cut the ball back into the middle of the penalty area where an unmarked Dominic Poleon (right) was waiting to curl the ball into the net, leaving Holy no chance.

The five or six chances that Pennock had referred to were in the main from set-piece attacks, corners and throw-ins - there were few created from open play as Gills struggled to put more than two passes together in any sequence. This continued for the majority of the match and Gills will have to improve rapidly to make any progress up the League One table.

A Gills equaliser looked likely to come from a set-piece from the training ground and one was nearly fashioned as a Mark Byrne long throw caused confusion in the Bradford defence. Josh Parker, who did not have a good game throughout and it was a surprise to many as to why he was not substituted at the break, did reach the Byrne throw and hammered the ball toward goal. It bounced off the goalkeeper and the loose ball had one or two Gills boots before it was finally put out for a goal kick.

Just before half-time Bradford should have doubled their lead when Max Ehmer dithered on the ball, looking to clear up-field, and with the crowd shouting ‘Man On’ was robbed by Dominic Poleon.

The Bantam striker was clear on goal but as Holy advanced he carefully rounded the goalkeeper, took aim, and sent the ball rolling goal-wards. Thankfully for Gills his shot went just wide of an open goal. This was followed by Ben Reeves with the Gills defence allowing space just outside the area  but he blasted his volley deep into row J of the Rainham End with an open goal at his mercy.

Another Gills set-piece at the end of the first-half nearly brought an unexpected equaliser as Alex Lacey reached a perfect Lee Martin free-kick in the area but his effort went just over the bar.

Half-Time: Gills 0 v Bradford 1 (Dominic Poleon)

Disbelief from many supporters as the teams came out for the second period as Pennock had not made any changes to what was a dismal attacking showing of the first half but the players must have had a rollicking from Head Coach Pennock because they started very brightly. Josh Parker and then Conor Wilkinson both had running efforts at the Bradford goal but without success.

On the hour Conor Wilkinson at last managed to wriggle clear of his tight marker and ran in on goal feeding the ball to Luke O’Neill who crossed from the right where Josh Parker was just too late arriving to hit the ball home. Good chance and one that should have been put in for the equaliser.

Gills were reduced to ten men with fifteen minutes remaining and with it their last real chance of getting something from the game. The ball looked like it was going out for either a corner or throw and Bradford’s Timothee Dieng was over the ball ready to clear up-field.

Conor Wilkinson (left) dived in with two feet and studs showing but thankfully the Gills striker did not touch Dieng, although the Bradford player went down rolling in agony. It was a poor challenge and could have been very nasty but referee John Busby had to reason that there was ‘intent’ and decided it was a straight red card.

In an after match radio interview Coach Pennock said the Club would appeal.

With Gills down to ten men Bradford were content to run out the rest of the time, sound in the knowledge that Gills were posing no real goal threat, but then Pennock made some changes with substitutes Liam Nash and Scott Wagstaff that were possibly far, far, too late to make any difference although striker Liam Nash did come close with his one last effort of the game.

In time added on, the crowd thought Gills had snatched a draw with the last action of the game, when Scott Wagstaff latched onto another free-kick and sent the ball to Gabriel Zakuani who neatly turned the ball into the net. The shouts of joy were quickly silenced by the referee assistant’s offside flag.

Gills are still awaiting for their first goal this season and on this showing it is a worry to know who will score it. Coach Ady Pennock has now reached 24 games in charge but registering just four victories. Next up is MK Dons away.