A new season and with it, renewed optimism flooded around Vicarage Road. The Carling Cup-an opportunity to get some shooting practice against lower league opposition before Saturdays game.
Bar Tamas Priskin and Steve Kabba, none of the side has been involved at Wolves, although, ten of the starting eleven had Premiership experience-not that you would have known it for the first fifteen minutes. Watford were abysmal and allowed Gillingham to set up camp in their penalty area. After a far post tussle in which Tamas Priskin hauled the Gills attacker to the floor, Gary Mulligan stepped up to open the scoring. Except he didn`t! His weakly struck penalty was saved by the legs of Lee who had already gone left. A let off for Watford-hopefully the first and last of this season.
Almost in apology for his haphazard defending, Tamas Priskin, the newest darling of the ‘Vic, headed home Douglas Rinaldi`s pinpoint cross to open the scoring.
However, Gillingham had not come to Hertfordshire to watch the great yellow machine in action and Ronnie Jepson`s men were frankly wasteful in front of goal as they failed to equalise in the mother of goalmouth scrambles. Only a superb block on the line prevented Mulligan from erasing his penalty miss.
After thirty-five minutes the game was over as a contest when Douglas Rinaldi snatched the second. A well-worked free kick in front of the Gills fans saw the Brazilian drive the ball past the wall and Simon Royce and into the top of the net. The net should have rippled on several other occasions in the first half but wayward finishing and poor passing was to blame. From Richard Lee`s clearance Tamas Priskin, then, predictably, Steve Kabba both failed to finish when one on one with Simon Royce, in fairness however, there was one defender to beat too.
The second half began badly for Gillingham as the bandana wearing Efe Sodje got his marching orders for a second yellow card, this provoked a mass complaint from the Gillingham team who had evidently not been informed of the restrictions on surrounding the referee. Evidently no-one had bothered to tell them that tripping the opposition and following through when tackling has been outlawed.
Watford`s reply to having an extra man was to flood the penalty area; Steve Kabba somehow failed to connect with Anthony McNamee`s teasing cross after he had bamboozled the full back with his trickery. Much of the same was to follow as Alex Campana converted a McNamee cross on 72 minutes. Kabba then saw his wayward bicycle kick from Hoskins cross comically mishandled by Simon Royce to earn a corner from which nothing was made.
Youngster Kieran Forbes-who had been thrown on for the injured Jordan Parkes looked promising and nearly capped his debut with a goal when he attempted to lob Royce with a curling effort from the edge of the area.
All in all very convincing, new kits, new seats and new look ground. Just a shame there aren`t anymore new players on their way in?
Gillingham: Royce; Southall, Sodje, King, Armstrong; Crofts (c), Bentley, Brown (Cogan), Bentley, Stone; Mulligan (Facey) and Graham (Pugh).
Referee: K. Friend
Great penalty save and a solid evening.
Little to do, done with ease.
Looked less rash than his debut at Reading.
Looked suspect until suspected broken nose forced him off.
Another injury victim. Otherwise solid.
Poor lad finally seems to be getting chances, wide right though. Worked hard and put in a couple of telling crosses.
Broke up the play, but still quieter than normal.
Scored one, setup one. A lively box to box performance.
If Kabba and Priskin could finish the scoreline would have been doubled with McNamee’s superb crossing.
A goal, but otherwise innfective.
Good control, just failed to finish, run or look interested.
Aidy Boothroyd-6: Got away with a weakened team-just. Had the penalty gone in, things could have been very different. Finally, DON’T use Hoskin’s wide, the poor lad’s a striker.
Ronnie Jepson-7: He can’t have ever bothered teaching them to tackle but his side passed the ball around well and made some good chances.