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Friday, 7 November 2014

The Inside Line FA Cup Special: Gillingham v Bristol City (08/11/2014)

With two cup games in four days, I fully expect boss Steve Cotterill to give some of the players who have been on this amazing unbeaten and ever-present run a break and get some of the fringe players involved, with the likes of Adam El Abd, Karliegh Osborne, Greg Cunningham, Marlon Pack, JET & Wesley Burns likely to feature prominently and try to propel City into the next round of the respective competitions.

First up is another cup trip to Kent as Gillingham have once again been drawn out of the hat as our opponents, as they were in the league cup last season.  Stu Radnedge spoke to Gills fan James Tong https://twitter.com/jamesthegill to find out more about our potential banana skin.

“After scraping our way to a respectable 17th place last year after promotion the year before, most fans were hoping for a slight improvement this time around, without necessarily pulling up trees. Reducing the number of goals conceded was a priority – we had the joint 2nd worst defence in the division last year, and lost 50% of our matches as well.

Peter Taylor took over from Martin Allen last November to keep the Gills in the division, and many of us were looking forward to see how he fared with a full pre-season and the chance to mould the squad into his own image, as the last time he managed us he promptly lead us to the Championship at the first time of asking.

Unfortunately things haven’t quite gone the way that we hoped. An injury to main man Danny Kedwell at the end of August saw the team’s league form plummet. From a healthy position of seven points in five games we went on a run that saw only one win and four draws in the next 12 league games.

Kedwell has been rushed back into the side clearly unfit, being withdrawn after 70 minutes in each of the three games since his return – not ideal when his main gameplay is a form of high energy pressing, something he’s been unable to do to the full extent. McDonald has been left foraging for scraps on his own up front, cutting a forlorn figure without his strike partner. Millbank, Norris and Dickenson haven’t made their marks as adequate replacements for Kedwell – tricky to do without a decent run of games beside McDonald to gel. News coming out this morning that Kedwell has sustained a knock to the knee and doubtful for tomorrow’s game haven’t helped matters.

But it’s OK, we’ve got three experienced goalkeepers in the squad as potential number 1. Nelson signed a new contract in the summer while Glenn Morris was signed as competition around the same time, and when Nelson injured himself against the Franchise we brought in Stephen Bywater on loan – who promptly marked his debut by chucking an equaliser for Swindon over his shoulder into his own net.

Possibly due to the plethora of options our defence hasn’t been that bad, despite switching between a flat back four, three at the back and “whoever feels like hanging back” at times throughout the season. Our issue remains scoring goals, and the only two teams who’ve scored fewer than us this season are the two below us.

So, we find ourselves with a disappointing cup draw. It was hardly surprising – we missed out on our annual cup game with Bristol City in the Capital One Cup this year, so it was almost inevitable we’d meet in the FA Cup!

A lot of fans – myself included – were hoping for a local derby against former rivals Maidstone United, them being in the first round of the FA Cup for the first time since winking out of existence in 1992, but it wasn’t to be. The last update from the club on Wednesday stated that less than 2,000 tickets had been sold for the game – our lowest attendance outside of the JPT in recent years was 3,751 against Barnet at home in 2012, and there’s a possibility we may not top that on Saturday.

Unsurprisingly, given how fickle many football fans are these days, a fair number are calling for Taylor to get the sack. The manager himself has stated that he “wouldn’t be surprised” to get the chop, but that he wouldn’t walk away as he feels he can turn it around. Chairman Scally has remained quiet on the subject, unusually for him. Rumours persist that a defeat on Saturday could see the end of Taylor’s second spell in charge of the club.

A blunted attack. Barely any tickets sold. A manager under pressure. All signs point to a fair easy victory for Bristol City, but this is the sort of match that we’d go and win 3-2 after being 2-0 down in the 81st minute. Typical Gillingham.”

My thanks to Stu & James for this latest piece, let's hope there are more to come in the F.A.Cup this season!


The Exiled Robin

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