Date:Monday January 9 2012
Gillingham 1-3 Stoke City
Saturday 7th January 2012, saw the return of Tony Pulis along with his Stoke City side at Priestfield.
League Two Gillingham was up against a side in the FA Cup third round that is eighth in the Premier League and also in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League.
When Stoke took to the field it was clear Tony Pulis who received applause from the packed house that he meant business when he fielded a strong side.
As a season ticket holder accustomed to the delights of League Two football, it was intimidating to see the strength that the Stoke team possessed. How were we to get past players like number four Robert Huth in defence and handle players such as number 33 Cameron Jerome up front?
This was the Gills cup final day though, remembering only a few weeks earlier that they had beaten League Two leaders Crawley Town to which the following celebrations resembled World Cup winners.
This is Priestfield our fortress, although in reality the Gillingham fans knew in their minds they faced defeat but in their heart was hope. We have passionate hearts in Gillingham as Tony Pulis knows only too well and he treated us with respect accordingly and we returned it with those same hearts and memories of a not too distant past.
The crowd were in full chorus as you would expect in such a cup game and the Gillingham fans did not have to wait long, in the 16th minute the unbelievable happened. Super Danny Kedwell puts the Gills 1-0 up. The Stadium erupted, could this be our day, and I had to do a double take to check the ball had actually hit the back of net!
Passion, tradition this is the FA Cup and we were starting to live a dream.
Stoke were strong, disciplined, decisive and organised and looked scary but Danny Kedwell knows how to score those all important goals and gave us the moment.
The Gills for the first 30 minutes looked like a side that meant business, even with Stoke coming close from a corner that led to a sneaky little back heal that just cleared the near post. Your heart sank just for that one moment when Stoke's skill showed through.
We continued to live our dream until the 34th minute when Walters equalised for Stoke, from the Medway Stand it seemed such a soft goal that went underneath the body of Ross Flitney, our normally safe hands left me numb, we do not have the luxury from a stand of instant replay you could only ask yourself what happened.
It felt as though for the first 30 minutes that Stoke could not even get in our half let alone near our goal, maybe we were strong or was it Stoke's game plan.
Finally just before half time on 43 minutes, you knew the dream had just ended. A ball which was going out for a corner was cleared from the line and out for a throw in instead. The player did what was normally expected. However, this is a Premiership side with Rory Delap's throw. The subsequent throw in, was met to come off the upright, then finally to be placed in the back of our net by Cameron Jerome. Oh if only we had allowed it to go for a corner.
Fate can be so cruel sometimes but maybe that is what we enjoy about this game, the highs and lows.
Robert Huth finished us off in the 49th minute but it mattered no more, we came, we fought and put up a very good fight. Andy Hessenthaler's army should be proud but today belong with Tony Pulis.
Thank you, Andy Hessenthaler and Tony Pulis for the memories, from the heart of a Gillingham fan.
Written by brb
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Date:Monday January 9 2012
Thrilled Allen Scoops Award (Tuesday May 21 2013)
King Calls It Quits (Tuesday May 21 2013)
Experience Pair Wanted (Monday May 20 2013)
Pre-Season: Gills Add To Schedule (Wednesday May 15 2013)
Pre-Season: Lions Coming To Town (Tuesday May 14 2013)
Payne Set For Permanent Posh Switch? (Monday May 13 2013)
Former Loanee Opts For Portsmouth (Saturday May 11 2013)
That Could've Been Me (Friday May 10 2013)
Hessenthaler Leaves Priestfield (Tuesday May 7 2013)
Trio Honoured By Their Peers (Tuesday April 30 2013)
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