GILLINGHAM 2 CITY 4
after extra time
Worthington Cup 2nd Round 2nd Leg
26th September 2000
City Weah(48 & 53), Dickov(113), Kennedy(119)
Gillingham Thomson(26 & 81)
Ref R Furnandiz
City Weaver, Crooks, Tiatto, Wiekens, Jobson, Ritchie, Haaland, Horlock, Dickov, Weah, Jeff Whitley – subs used Kennedy(36), Bishop(50), Granville(90), S Wright-Phillips(unused), Wright(unused)
Gillingham Bartram, Southall, Edge, Hope, Ashby, Butters, Smith, Hassenthaler, Thomson, King, Browning – subs used Patterson(84), Lewis(97), Saunders(unused), Pennock(unused), Mitten(unused)
…The first leg of last season’s Worthington Cup tie between the two sides ended 1-1 at Maine Road, causing both sets of supporters to hope for a more dominant approach from their side in the return game. For the first half hour it looked as if the Gills fans had got their wish as City rarely managed to get hold of the ball.
During this spell, Andy Thomson put the home side ahead after sneaking past Alfie Haaland and shooting between Weaver and the post. It was a thoroughly deserved goal after the pressure exerted, however City were clearly having an off night.
At half-time Joe Royle gave his men a roasting: “We had a few words at the interval. We were not at the races. We were uncommitted in the first half and didn’t seem to know what we wanted to do about it.”
The rocket paid immediate dividends as, within three minutes of the restart a Mark Kennedy corner found George Weah unmarked at the near post to head home the equaliser. Five minutes later Kennedy again left defenders trailing as he forced his way to the by-line, and fired the ball low across the goalmouth to once again find Weah. The former World Player of the Year stretched to send the ball into the net.
Kennedy almost put the Blues further in front when he sent a powerful left foot shot a fraction wide shortly afterwards. An injury to Haaland then disrupted City’s flow and Gillingham regained momentum. A Gillingham corner led to their equaliser – Lee Crooks had no alternative but to head the ball back to the corner taker, who then proceeded to cross for a second time. The ball was headed down and Thomson netted his second in the 81st minute.
Two minutes later Dickov almost restored City’s lead with a left foot shot, but Gillingham also had chances. Weaver made an outstanding save. Andy Hessenthaler: “At 2-2 we had to get a goal and if Thomson’s effort had gone in when their keeper made a gooc save then who knows?”
Normal time ended with both sides level, however if the Blues could preserve the scoreline then they would progress on the away goals rule. Sadly an injury to Wiekens caused concern and Danny Granville came into City’s makeshift defence.
Somehow they held together well, and in the 113th minute of play Weah found Bishop, who threw himself in front of a Gills defender to help the ball on to the unmarked Dickov. Dickov took one touch to control it, and then tucked the ball under the advancing Bartram.
In the final minute of extra time Kennedy made it 4-2, although Bartram came close to saving it.
Afterwards Joe Royle told the media he was delighted with the second half performance and the approach during extra-time, although he admitted he would sooner forget the first half. His opposite number felt Gillingham could have won: “The scoreline really doesn’t reflect the match. We’ve more than matched them over the two legs – now it’s on to the next game against Sheffield Wednesday.”
ADAPTED FROM AN ARTICLE BY GARY JAMES FROM THE CITY PROGRAMME 3RD NOVEMBER 2001