|They may be in League Two, but Gillingham is a club on the up, after being taken over by Americans Brad and Shan Galinson earlier in the year. There was an immediate galvanising effect with the club pulling away from the relegation zone and they won their opening match of this season away at Stockport County. They will be very much the underdogs, but they seem to fancy their chances against a team relegated from the Premier League last season.
An interesting little QI fact is that when Saints joined the Football League in 1920, their first match on 28 August 1920 was against Gillingham and it ended in a 1-1 draw. Thanks to 1885etc on the IBO Forum for that. If I could reach my copy of "In That Number" from its lofty perch at the top of the stairs, then I could confirm that...
How Russell Martin will view the game is difficult to tell, but I am expecting a strong side as he looks to develop a new style of play. There will be some changes as he has a large squad to keep match fit and as he continues to assess some of the fringe players.
As it turned out, the manager changed all eleven players from Friday. Not a single starter from the league match started this evening. Some really quirky selections including Perraud reappearing from injury as a centre-half...
Saints are to wear the New Forest-inspired black third kit with yellow trim, complete with grey shorts and black socks.
Ché Adams reflecting that it was not a good night to be Captain
|I don't even know where to start here, but this was an abject performance by an abject team selection. I mean, why select Perraud in his first game back from injury in a starting role and in a position he was not familiar with? He is an attacking left-back, not a centre-half. Changing eleven starting players from the game before was crackers.
Gillingham started the game at a fair pace and seemed determined to knock Saints out of their stride. Which was fairly simple as we just were not at the races. The first goal came as early as the 12th minute and almost seemed inevitable. Their left winger shot down our right flank, with Bree nowhere, crossed from the byline and Nadesan had a simple finish for the opening goal.
There were times when Saints got back into the game, but every time Gillingham got near the final third of the pitch you worried. It was the worst of last season all over again. Mara did manage to hit the post, but apart from the sublime Amo-Ameyaw, who seems to have the ability to go past opposing players at will and instil indecision in them at the same time, the team looked disjointed and out of sorts.
So, the first half ended with Gillingham well and truly in the ascendancy.
Stuart Armstrong was replaced at the half by Joe Aribo as both are needing playing time to get up to something approaching match fitness.
If we thought that the first half was bad, it got horrifically worse in the second.
It didn't take long for Gillingham to exploit our complete lack of basic defending skills at set pieces, as in the 51st minute, McKenzie was unchallenged to score a simple goal. Sunday football stuff.
The local fans were loving this - "Championship, you’re having a laugh" could be clearly heard.
They went overboard when McKenzie got his second of the night, following another bout of non-defending a corner in the 67th minute. Saints new set piece coach is going to have his work cut out.
Alcaraz had come on just before the third Gillingham goal and he was not happy with the situation, leading by example and by badgering other players, Saints started to improve. However, it was a case of too little too late.
In the 89th minute, Alcaraz did manage to score a consolation goal by sheer cussedness and refusal to give up, but that essentially was that and the end of this season's Carabao Cup involvement for Saints.
Russell Martin told Adam Blackmore on BBC Radio Solent:
"It's the most disappointed I've been in the six weeks I've been here which is a really obvious statement.
"There's some positives to take with the young guys when they came on, Sam Amo, Kammi (Kamari Doyle) when he came on, Tyler (Dibling) gets an appearance as well.
"Stuey Armstrong was great, 45 minutes which was the plan to build him up minutes-wise as he's missed a lot. Joe Aribo, the same. I'd have loved to have those guys on the pitch for longer, Sekou (Mara) as well.
"I think it's a big lesson for Sekou and a few of the guys, you need to be all-in in being a professional. All-in, the way you train, the way you play. Don't train one way to play another, train the way we train, we work the way we work so we can go out on the pitch and deliver a certain level of performance.
"And tonight we had too many people that didn't really. Too many that just weren't brave enough to play or didn't want to play the way we really want them to play the first 20 minutes and we paid for that conceding a really poor goal.
"We had nine players who played in the Premier League on the pitch, who I presume would deem themselves Premier League players. You have to be better than that. We showed fight in the last half an hour and it was too late by that point."
|I know it sounds odd, but there were two players that impressed me in an otherwise forgettable game. Although not on the pitch for long, Alcaraz was outstanding and he is a player we need to hang on to at all costs.
The other was young Amo-Ameyaw, is he really only just 17? This kid is just so exciting to watch, he just seems to glide past defenders. I will bet that not for the first time this season, Sam Amo-Ameyaw is my Man of the Match.