The trouncing of Bristol City, courtesy of a superb hat-trick of poached goals by Kevin Phillips (even if
the first one went in off a defender's chin), was unquestionably one of the season's best moments. We looked
confident for once, secure in defence and willing to commit men forward to support the front line. The
shambles at Wycombe seemed to be behind us.
But it didn't work out like that. We travelled to Peterborough just a few days later and, despite scoring
early through Tommy Mooney, came away with nothing. Worse than that - Ken Charlery finally managed to
score against us.
If Peterborough was bad, Gillingham was grim beyond belief. Leading at half-time after Keith Scott had
again managed to find the net with a wayward cross, we were annihilated in the second half. Sure, we had
long spells of pressure after two goals early in the second half had forced us out of our shells but Gillingham could've
had a hatful on the break. Andy Hessenthaler ran the show, dictating the game, organising his side, scoring
a crucial goal, reminding us that we'd been missing a midfield general all season. And, just to rub it in,
we gifted Steve Butler a goal right at the death. They had an interview with David f***ing Bellotti in the
programme as well...
Walsall was a minor, if unbelievably dour, improvement. That midfield general arrived from an unexpected source,
Richard Johnson winning his first 'man of the match' award since the first game of the season as we played
a more patient game. We stifled the play, took all the pace out of things and won it with an early strike
from (yep, him again) Tommy Mooney. It was very, very dull. It also, in my opinion, represented our
best chance of coming away with the three points we needed. The same applied to the game against Bristol Rovers which, if anything, was even more mind-numbing. But
we were winning and we were joint second.
Millwall was magnificent. The solid, combative nature of the side stopped the home side's attacks at
conception, while we released the ball into dangerous areas to create numerous first half chances. We were
playing as a team and we were playing to our strengths - at last.
And then it all went pear-shaped. Had Kevin Phillips' goal not been disallowed against Bournemouth, I
have very little doubt that we would've won that game. The story of the season might've been very
different (if I had to look for a turning point, that would be the one - it caused us to lose faith in
tactics that had been working). As it was, we were the ones who went
behind and found ourselves unable to break down a resolute Bournemouth side. And, in context, the
goalless draw down at Plymouth a couple of days afterwards did us very few favours.