Match report posted by Richard (view the full thread on the forum )
Well, what the ---- happened there? I certainly wasn't expecting a five-goal hammering today - certainly not this morning, and even an hour into the game. The Town had other ideas though, capitulating in the last twenty minutes to hand an average looking Gillingham side an impressive opening day victory. In all truth, sat there at the final whistle, it all felt a bit surreal - Gillingham gaining perfect revenge for that 5-0 tonking we gave them a couple of years ago.
The Gills obviously weren't expecting the 788 fans from Swindon, as when we arrived, with our assigned seats already occupied, we had nowhere to go until the lower tier was opened. We just took to our seats just in time to watch the Town gift a twelfth minute lead - Jackson effortlessly skipping past Lescinel, drawing Lucas in goal, and playing the ball back to Bentley to tap home. The consensus was that the goal was down to bad defending.... it was only going to get worse. With their tails up, the Gills had a short attacking spell, but the Town soon settled, and began to become an attacking force themselves. The main threat came from set-pieces, but Alan O'Brien was causing some problems on the left flank, and Anthony McNamee was also running at the defence from his free role behind Paynter. O'Brien and Douglas had shots blocked in a goalmouth scramble, Lescinel had a header cleared off the line when we all thought he had scored, Morrison headed wide when he looked in a better position to score. Finally, McNamee did brilliantly to skip past two defenders on the right side, then from a difficult angle Paynter was only able to direct a header from the resulting cross wide of the post.
Behind the goal we were defending, we'd hardly seen the ball since the goal - the corner count was 5-0 in our favour. The half-time discussion was that we were doing OK, about not deserving to be behind, and hopefully getting something out of the second half. How wrong we were.
McNamee had a poor shot early in the second half that went wide - from the resulting goal-kick, lazy play between Amankwaah and McNamee handed the ball back to the Gills, and the ball was pinged forward towards goal. Unfortunately for us, the race was between Simeon Jackson and Sean Morrison - Jackson had by far the better acceleration, and he blasted the ball past Lucas. 2-0. Still we hoped.... but by now we had lost any attacking impetus whatsoever.
A free-kick in the centre of the park led to the Gills' third twenty minutes later - in my opinion, the worst goal of the day. From the central position, it should have been relatively simple to defend - but, inexplicably, Miller was allowed all the time he wanted to rise and head the ball home. At this point, the crowd around us emptied. On the pitch, the Town were all over the place and had absolutely nothing going forward, and a complete lack of desire to stop the Gillingham attacks. Lucas made a superb block from a fierce drive, at the other end, Morrison missed another decent opportunity with a header, again wide from just yards out. It was our only sniff of an opportunity in the half - the Gills were all over us.
Jackson scored twice more in the final five minutes to complete his hat-trick. I can't really tell you much about them - we were resigned to defeat by this point, the gallows humour had set in, and there were lots of players in the way as the Gills pressed forward. We had no answer to Jackson's pace and finishing - the fourth in particular seemed to be a superb, powerful strike.
I still can't believe we managed to concede five.... whatever happened to the shored-up defence that turned out for pre-season?