Before today’s top-of-the-table clash, Gillingham were in the number one spot by the skin of their teeth.
Level on points with second-placed Coventry City – superior on goal difference by just one goal – and two points ahead of Walsall – who still have a game in hand – today’s visit to the Ricoh was bound to be crucial.
After half an hour, the top two were still level, while Walsall were also goalless against Sheffield United. But then all hell broke loose. With the Gills having held firm against pressure from the Sky Blues, suddenly the floodgates opened and, in the space of ten minutes, the league leaders had conceded four goals: the hosts’ Jacob Murphy netted a hat trick with Ben Turner completing the rout.
Going into the break Gillingham were 4-0 down and had given a very poor account of themselves.
The second half proved to be quieter. The Gills had tightened up and Coventry took their foot off the gas a little. Just after the hour mark, Bradley Dack – our top scorer – gave the visitors a little bit of hope but it was, alas, to no avail. When the final whistle blew, the scoreboard read:
and the top two teams had reversed their roles:
All things considered, a disappointing result for Gillingham – and a long journey home for the 857 visiting fans who made the journey. The discussion on social media was not a happy one for some:
First time in my life I've left a game early!! Fucking joke today gills!!
— Sarah (@sarahsavagexx) November 21, 2015
Today is the 3rd defensive away collapse inside a month. Yes we've had a cracking start but this is, in my opinion, now an issue. #Gills
— GillsRelated (@GillsRelated) November 21, 2015
What top of the table side finds themselves 4-0 down, sorry but that just shouldn't fucking happen! Feel for everyone that's gone #Gills
— Henry Collier (@HenryCollier10) November 21, 2015
Even when we got destroyed at Accrington a few years ago we played better than this #Gills
— Olly (@TheSportFiles) November 21, 2015
I've never booed this Edinburgh side until now. Absolute disgrace, every one of them right now.
— Ballo (@DomGFCBallard) November 21, 2015
Others, however, were more upbeat:
Well we won the 2nd half 1-0 and we are still 2nd in the league. #Allsgood#Gills ?
— Richard Shaw (@Rickshaw40S) November 21, 2015
Taught a lesson in football today but still in second place roll on Tuesday night #gills12thman
— MrJohnSeager (@MrJohnSeager) November 21, 2015
— Robert Phillips (@Rob_gills) November 21, 2015
The fact is, 4-1 is a disappointing result, but it’s not the end of the world. One bad game does not define a season any more than one good game. 18 games in, we are second in the league, with an average of almost two points per game. Emulated over the course of 46 games, that would result in an impressive 87 points – which, at the end of last season, would have meant a fourth-placed finish.
Clearly there are lessons to be learnt from today’s game, but I, for one, am not concerned. On Tuesday, the Gills host Rochdale and the slate will be wiped clean. Our primary aim for the season, absurd as it might seem when sitting second, must be avoiding relegation until we have at least 50 points. Only then can we start to look towards the play-offs and only then can we think about what else the season might bring us.
Until then: enjoy every victory wisely and don’t mourn every loss too dejectedly.