Gillingham kicked off, the referee whistled them to a halt, Gillingham kicked off again. It was their only moment of hesitation. Less than two minutes in, and the ball arrived in the penalty area via Nosworthy and a flick from Ipoua…and suddenly the hugely impressive Sidibe was in, poking the ball past Alec Chamberlain to give Gillingham an immediate lead. And we couldn’t recover our composure…a fine move from the left five minutes later, and Saunders slid a pass across to Hessenthaler on the right of the area, stretching to fire across and narrowly wide. Immediately, Smith nearly lobbed Alec Chamberlain from long range, his effort landing on the roof of the net, and we were all over the place….
Nigel Gibbs final competitive Watford appearance and Gianluca Vialli’s last programme notes.
BSAD report: One final first team outing for Nigel Gibbs – applauded on arrival by everyone in the ground, including the Gillingham players – was worth the price of admission alone, even if he was required to spend ten minutes looking awkwardly out of place at left back. A broad grin on hitting a pass so firmly that even Anthony McNamee couldn’t catch up with it betrayed his enjoyment of the occasion, and it was an enjoyment widely shared. Nigel Gibbs has been a great player for Watford Football Club for twenty years. There need be no further explanation.
As early as the quarter hour mark we were forced into a reshuffle as Cox limped off having earlier received treatment. Doyley dropped into his more accustomed central role, with Heidar continuing his tour of the outfield positions as a right wing-back.
At this point, anyway, Luca brought Helguson on, and I assume we went to four in defence, with Glass dropping back and Helguson, inexplicably, playing wide right. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and there’s no denying Pennant’s usefulness up front, but isn’t he supposed to be a right winger and Helguson a striker?
A difficult pitch and a difficult opponent, full of tricks and movement, but we played as well as we could, which is all you can ask for. Although City were better than us, technically, our battling performance could have earned a draw. Helguson’s unfortunate own goal gave City a win they barely deserved: that’s what happens when you ask strikers to play a defensive role.
When GT took over in February we were bottom of the table with just 25 points, 7 points from safety and 10 behind ‘them up the road’. Even though we got relegated it was still some achievement to have almost doubled our points total under GT, take it down to the final day and to finish higher than them.
GT sat on the opposition bench at the Vic for the first time in a competitive game since he visited with Lincoln City in 1975.