After picking up a good run of form in recent weeks we went into this game confident that we wold be able to provide a much closer match up for Gilingham than we did when we played them in the league earlier in the season. However, last minute illnesses left us with only 7 players, turning what was always going to be a difficult task into a near impossible one.
Fortunately for us, Gilingham's manager was very understanding, and agreed to play 7-a-side on the 9-a-side pitch giving him three subs to work with.
During the first half we played very well, linking up brilliantly at times when on the attack, leading to several chances. The pick of the bunch during the first half was Ben playing an excellent through ball to Sam who tried to slot the ball into the bottom corner, but the on rushing keeper saved it well. Unfortunately in between our good attacking chances, Gillingham also had some of their own. Despite our make shift back 3 playing well, especially Kieran who halted the opposition's attack down our left side brilliantly on multiple occasions, they found the net 3 times. So at half time we found ourselves 3-0 down, but still playing well and in the game.
In the first 15 minutes of the second half we had our strongest spell, giving Gillingham very few chances and creating plenty ourselves. Alfie and Ben were both playing fantastically in midfield, protecting our defense and linking up excellently with Sam to cut through Gillingham's defence, but we struggled to really test the keeper. Ben forced what was the keepers best save of the game, shooting low towards the bottom left hand corner, but the keeper made a brilliant diving save to push the ball wide.
With 15 minutes left to play, it was clear we were starting to tire, having given everything to try to get back into the game Gillingham were still full of energy using all 3 subs regularly to keep everyone fresh. Gillingham found their 4th with a well struck free kick just outside the box. Two more followed as we continued to chase the game.
Despite the scoreline the lads can hold their heads high, improving the scoreline from last time we played them despite the difficult circumstances. Kieran took home the MOTM trophy, playing brilliantly well as one of our back three, even impressing Gillingham's manager. However he wasnt the only player their manager was impressed with, when we spoke after the game he told me how impressed he was with how all of the players had improved since the last time we had played them. This is brilliant to hear from an opposition team and gives us confidence for when we play our remaining fixture against them in the new year. I am very proud of the players for how they approached what we knew was going to be an extremely tough game under any circumstances, but playing as they did when they were 2 players down and some of them playing in different positions was very pleasing to see!