Date: 30th April 2006 at 8:43am
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In what was a bitter sweet weekend, the day belonged to the fans. It was one of those days that have been all to rare this season, a day to be proud to be a saddler.

No disrespect to our hosts for the day but Gillingham away is my least favorite trip and I won’t miss my trip round the M25 next year. A half full coach with 21 hardy souls didn’t bode well for the day. However things changed when we trecked to the Livingston Arms to be greeted by the Teletubbies, a cowboy and a Slimed down Paul Smith (those who were there will relise the irony). A few pints with our hosts to chourus of ‘were down but we are having a laugh’ intermixed with ‘we are down but still smiling’ The scene was set for the final away trip of the season….surely things would go down hill from here.

As I said this was a day to be proud to be a saddler, the atmosphere created by the mall traveling band was a credit to the club, although the players must have been embarrassed to reward such a loyal following with relelgation. The old songs mixed in with the new, attempts ot get a mexican wave going and friendly banter with gills fans and stewards alike made events on the pitch almost irrevelant. I bet the steward taughted with YMCA shaves his moustache off by the time we see him again.

Well what happened on the pitch, well if the truth is known we were not anything special but better than a poor Gillingham side, on the day we just wanted it more. Early stages gillingham carved out some half chances Darren Byfield not getting to an inviting ball and sending a header over when he should have scored…perhaps he is a saddler after all. Up front James was causing problems with his pace and Wright getting into some useful positions, but the cutting edge was missing let again. The last chance saw Oakes save well from Tommy Black.

The first clean cut chance of the second half fell to Kevin James sent clean through, and as the keeper came out tried the spectacular curler into the top corner only for it to sail over the bar.

Then in the 56th minute James was fouled, Keates sent the ball around the wall, Gills Keeper Brown allowed the ball to bounce off his chest, Stevie Claridge beat a clutch of players to the ball to whip it into the net. He celebrated with the saddlers faithful telling us he owed us one.

Gillingham threatened after that a some good stops and wasteful shotting meant the back four dealt with what was thrown at it. Our confidence had returned and some nice touches made a mockery of our league position. A chance for Gills was missed by Byfield in the third minute of stopage time, the saddlers had completed their 7th double over the gills.

As the team came off Kevin James applauded the fans saying ‘BRILLANT SUPPORT’

Player Ratings

Andy Oakes
Did everything that was asked it is suprising what removing the pressure of relegation can do to a player, even his punching was good.

Craig Pead
Some times I forget he is only 23, but a better performance than of recent games. However still found out of position and the wrong side of his man on times. Got forward better than recent games.

Anthony Gerrard
My star man

Ian Roper
Effective, still hasn’t hit the heights that we know he can achieve ,but solid enough against the experienced Harris and Byfield.

Daniel Fox
Pressure off and Foxy returned to a performance more like his old self.

Mark Wright
How frustrating, good runing, good positions, inconsistant final ball. So close to been a key player for the saddlers but always falls just short.

Dean Keates
Covered every blade of grass, even won a header…ref gave a foul for climbing I don’t think he could believe he’d won it!!!
Oh for the ability to make that final creative pass

Pablo Mills
Not as commanding as his first few games for us but gave 100% in stopping Gillingham controling midfield. I can’t see him in a Saddlers shirt next year, I am sure a league one club will come in for him.

Ishmal Demontagnac
Good pace, defensive frailities, rash tackles but bags of potential, taken off to give Fox more defensive cover as Gillingham pressed.

Steve Claridge
Got his goal, gave 100% and held the ball up well. I am not going to give stick to a guy who is 40 giving his all for our club.

Kevin James
Got frustrated at not getting the right balls when finding space, when he did he missed. He’s pace caused problems all day to the gillingham defence.

Daryl Taylor
Came on playing on his wrong side, tracked back well and helped Fox out but didn’t get a chance to show anything going forward.

Andrew Barrowman
Little time to show anything, battled well and tracked back but any forward play was easily cut out.

Manager Rating
Kinsella 100% record so far. Good use of subs, win one more and it’s a better record than KB.

The fans
The support was appreciated by the team and I am sure that Simon Osborn and Micheal Standing who were seated with the away following will tell the tale to those weren’t there.


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