So Proud to be a Gashead

Firstly I have set my base at 6 for a mark as it is not everyday a Professional Footballer from League 1 or 2 get a chance to play against a Premiership team who put out such a strong side in this competition and nobody deserves less than a 6 for playing against such distinguished opponents and coming away with a single goal defeat.
This was totally a night to remember for the lucky 4000 odd fans who had tickets and it began in the late afternoon for many as the gas infected Earls Court looked no different to being on the Gloucester Road. It was a mass of noise and that was to follow for the entire evening. For us older gasheads how marvellous was the ovation given to 70 year old John Hollins at half time and I think even he was shocked at this. I thought how many millions of pounds would a player like him have been worth these days and I expect he thinks the same!!
in terms of the game it was very much a case of backs to the wall in the first half where it pretty well took most of it for our defenders to realise that they needed to close Chelsea down and then the replacing of Bodin and James with Taylor and Easter to give us more strength and skill to start to influence the game ourselves. The second half was a much more closer affair and after the penalty there was a ten minute spell where we took hold of the game and came oh so close to gettinga remarkable equaliser. Chelsea’s three substitutions were necessary to regain control of a game that they looked in danger of relinquishing as we closed them down much better and started to look dangerous ourselves.

Mildenhall 8
Didn’t let the occasion get to him and handled the ball well throughout and made many good saves. Stood no chance with any of the goals, commanded his area well and likewise his distribution was good.

Leadbitter 6
Had a real tough game as he was the player who came under scrutiny the most as Chelsea spread the ball to the wings and ran at us with pace and skill. far too often he left his player unmarked for too long and gave him the chance to be run at and the opponent to be at full pace by the time he got anywhere near him and then the opponent was pass him and bearing down on goal. Like most players he improved in the second half and certainly won’t come up against such illustrious opponents this season.

Hartley 8
Apart from the third goal where he got turned far too easily he had a good game and for me was the pick of our defenders last night. Stuck to his task well and for the second game running scored with a great header. I can really see us at last having a centre half who will score some goals and at present I would not be at all surprised if over the season he scores more than Gaffney. He has a two goal start at present.

Lockyer 7
Found the going tough but is that really surprising given the quality he was having to mark. Even taking that into account I think Tom himself will probably be disappointed with his performance last night as he was caught sleeping on far too many occasions but it is very difficult for your centre halves when quality players out wide have gone past your full backs and get to the six yard box.

Brown 6
Like Leadbitter he was targeted by the way Chelsea play and struggled to contain his opponent often being taken for speed. Like others he looked a lot better in the second half and did well on a number of occasions. I can understand that it takes a bit of getting used to when you are used to playing against “ordinary” wingers and then come up against a player like Moses who was obviously playing to show the new Manager what he can do.

Sinclair 8
Can he make it in League 1? A question I have been asking as well as a lot of others but last night I think he proved beyond doubt that he can play at that level and how pleased I was to witness his performance last night. Didn’t stop running,hasssling and chasing and was good in possession ,retaining the ball and passing backwards, sideways and forwards as well. Didn’t give Chelsea the time to dwell on the ball once he had worked his way into the game and a fantastic run through where he forced the Chelsea player to bring him down for the penalty which until this season would have seen Chelsea go down to 10 men and who knows what would have happened in that scenario.

Lines 8.5 MOM
Not everything came off for him but he was involved from start to finish and always makes himself available and wants the ball. Shame he wasn’t able to pull the trigger a couple of times in the first half where his runs took him into positions where he could have got a shot in. Had the confidence in distinguished company to hold on to the ball and probe for openings.

Clarke 6.5 Didn’t give up and kept going although first half really struggled to get in the game. Was unlucky with a run in the second half and got in some useful challenges.

Bodin 6
Tried but not at his best at present and struggled to influence proceedings at all but like James it was very mucha back to the walls job in the first half and that is not really Billy’s game.

James 6
In truth we just didn’t have the possession in the first half to bring Luke into the game. He tracked back well but didn’t really do anything to justify DC leaving Matty Taylor on the bench.

Harrison 8
At last he is starting to look the part and with just a bit of luck would have added another goal to his well taken penalty. Showed great strength in the air against top defenders and the ability to hold the ball. Great leap and header in the first half and even closer with a brilliant half volley that clipped the bar.

Easter 8
Sorry but how can DC not find a place somewhere in the team for this classy player? Changed the game with his ability to hold his own physically and also to hold on to the ball under pressure. if we are going to play Sinclair then IMO we must sacrifice Ollie Clarke to get Easter in the team. He is a superb link player and was very unlucky not to score with a greaty drive which brought an excellent save from the Chelsea keeper.

Taylor 7
Looked class as soon as he came on. Lost the ball carelessly on a couple of occasions but did enough to make me wonder why on earth he was left out in the first place. Great vision and pass to pick out Sinclair for the penalty incident.

Gaffney 6
Unfortunately did not improve the side and after Ellis departed we probably lost that edge we had in the second half. held the ball a couple of times but looks well short of his best and really needs a goal to boost his confidence.

Crowd 10
Really made me proud to be a gashead especially the applause given to John Hollins at half time which probably reflects the average age of our support. It really was an all late afternoon and evening party for the travelling fans and I consider myself very lucky to have been one of those 4000 odd who were able to get a ticket. even at three one down and a heavy defeat looking a possibility the fans stayed behind the team and thoroughly deserved to witness a mere one goal defeat

Ref 6
Like the players I set a 6 as a base but I wonder if he set out as Custodian of the millions of pounds of talent because he seemed to penalise every challenge we made and then let play go on when Chelsea made a similar challenge. That said he was better than a lot of the referees we get although I have never really thought that Mr Stroud was anything other than a controversial referee.

Chelsea 10 Full marks and respect for a Superb Club and Manager who for me paid us the greatest respect by fielding such a strong side in what was a very enjoyable and entertaining game. Nice to be treated like a fan by the Police and stewards.Shame we have to put up with the complete opposite on Saturday!! Chelsea played some superb football at times and at one stage it looked a question of how many but the half time substitutions by DC saw us compete at a much higher level in the second period and even forced them to bring on millions of pounds of talent to regain control.

DC What can one say as Darrell has brought the majority of this team from Non League to playing last night against one of the most expensive teams in the Country and producing a performance that they and us can be proud of. The transition of this club has been little short of amazing and last night was another clear sign of the Never say die attitude of the players and the fact that they have given us back our club.

So we move on to a match against our local rivals Swindon, a match that not so long ago seemed a million miles away and a match which IMO we should approach with a confidence that we can bring maximum points back. Maybe we will even have a couple of signings but if not I would be looking to start with Taylor and Easter for James and Ollie Clarke and probably James Clarke for Leadbitter and even maybe Monty for Bodin. Onwards and upwards- we can do this Gasheads. UTG

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