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….
We played some of our best positive football in ages in this game, our attacking moves were sharp, our finishing strong. And yet we were also offering vacant possession of most of the pitch to any enterprising North Ender who happened along and fancied a piece. At first they tended to happen along three or four a minute, since their industriousness put us to shame. And then, when they saw our shapeless generosity, our lack of stomach for a scrap, they all fancied a piece.