Like many others I wasn't bothered by our defeat in the whatever the name of it was cup the other day, but I was alarmed by the apparent lack of effort, in the second-half especially. Anyway, the F.A. Cup still retains some if not all of its glamour and I'm hoping we can get to the Third Round and pull a top side at home to warm our January cockles. After that I wouldn't be too bothered if we went out so we could concentrate on the league, as the cliché goes. I imagine we'll field a strong side today. I was wondering what had happened to Ozturk so I was pleased to see him on again on Tuesday but it's likely he's going to be unavailable through injury today. Hume is also doubtful and he'd be a loss but I'm not aware of any other team news. Having had two clean sheets in recent home games I'm hoping we can continue this habit and I think we're going to win so my match prediction is 2-0 to us.
I was almost caught on the hop as I'd forgotten that the match was starting early but I was pleased to see that we were fielding a strong side with Maguire, McGeady, O'Nien and Grigg to the fore. I got SAFSEE on and heard that the stadium was almost empty with only six or seven thousand in. It did sound more like Newcastle Road Baths than what we're used to. We started off brightly and in the eighth minute a McGeady shot came off Ehmer's arse to safety but we soon won a couple of corners. Our pressure paid off in the fifteenth minute when a low twenty-yard shot from McGeady went under Bonham in goal and into the net to put us 1-0 up. Gillingham came close to an equalizer just afterwards when a Lee header brushed the post via McLaughlin. Commentator Gary Bennett said that the quality of our crossing was 100% better than on Tuesday, which maybe wasn't saying much. From our fifth corner just before the half-hour mark the ball went right through their box lacking just a touch for us to get a second. Gillingham were making regular forays of their own and McLaughlin was being called upon to make a save every now and again so I was hoping we'd get that second goal before the break. A few minutes before the break Willis became our first player to be yellow-carded, joining Hanlan in the book. Maguire missed a sitter in the dying moments of stoppage-time after a great cross from De Bock and so it remained 1-0 at the break.
Almost from the off Gillingham were level when a Lee free-kick was dropped by McLaughlin and went through his legs and into the net. Gillingham had certainly started the half with a lot more zip and it was sounding all too familiar. It took us about a quarter of an hour to wake up again but Gillingham still sounded the likelier side to score so a sub or two were surely needed sooner rather than later. McNulty finally came on for Grigg, who'd again done little, and off he went down the tunnel with no acknowledgement from the bench. McNulty was pushed to the front with O'Nien just behind him while Maguire and McGeady were on the flanks so could we get a winner and avoid a replay? I felt that we could and we soon won a couple of corners. The crowd of just under 8,000 started making some noise and next thing O'Nien just couldn't stretch far enough to get a touch on a McNulty pass. McLaughlin did well to tip a shot round the post as both sides went for it. Benno had criticized Maguire for giving the ball away and he was soon replaced by Watmore in the seventy-seventh minute. We were lucky to escape when Lee almost got a toe to an effort in front of goal and I was glad at least that the freezing fans were getting some action. The time suddenly started whizzing away and a replay was looking certain but we were still having a go and a McGeady shot was tipped round by Bonham for a corner. Then Gillingham won a corner of their own as we entered stoppage-time but there were no more serious efforts and it ended 1-1.