18 October 1983
Quickfire Gills are on the up
GILLS 3 EXETER 1
Report by Bruce Beckett
REJUVENATED Gillingham produced a scintillating start at Priestfield last night to pave the way for their fourth consecutive win. Two goals in the space of a minute had Gills' first 4.000 plus league crowd of the season clamouring for more. The expected goal. spree did not materialise. But there were more than enough thrills and spills to keep the fans happy.
They showed their appreciation by giving manager Keith Peacock and his team a standing ovation as they left the pitch. What a contrast to the scene a few weeks ago when it seemed nothing would go right. "We couldn't have wished for a better start." said a delighted Peacock. "I thought we were going to take Exeler apart in the first 20 minutes. Then we let them back into the game with a silly mistake, and we needed that early goal in the second half. The goals might not have been as outstan ding as the three at Burnley on Saturday. But I don't mind how they go in the net! "We played very well in patches tonight. All we have to do now is make those patches last a little longer." The result lifts Gills to 10th position in the Third Division table. but Peacock is not get- ting carried away by the upturn in fortunes. "We have made up the ground. we lost in the first few matches. Now we have two tough away games coming up which will provide another test of our met tle," he added. LSteve Bruce got Gills off to a dream start. a grateful Mark Weatherly grabbing the other two goals.
"I thought I was going to score my first hat-trick tonight." admitted the hard working striker. "How often do you get two chances as simple as those?" It was a sound team performance rather than individual brilliance which earned Gills the points. although Terry Cochrane provided plenty of first half sparkle. The impish Irishman certainly won the battle of the wingers. Peter Taylor, who quit Maidstone United last month to link up with another former England International. Gerry Francis at Exeter, hardly got a kick. Player manager Francis, 31, operated in the role of sweeper, but he looked a shadow of the player who took Scotland apart at Wembley in 1975. Perhaps constant injury problems have finally caught up with the once influential midfield star with Queens Park Rangers, Coventry and England.
Gills, whose new adventurous style has now been rewarded by 12 goals in the last four matches. took only six minutes to find the net. The goal came from a corner after a Weatherly shot had been deflected over the crossbar. Mehmet played the ball short to Cochrane. whose curling cross was powerfully headed in from close range by the completely unmarked Bruce. Seconds later. Cascarino broke clear on the left and when Clty's long serving goalkeeper Len Bond managed to get a hand on his shot, Weatherly was there to slot home the loose ball. Cascarino volleyed narrowly past the post and a 30-yard free kick from Mehmet also flashed past the upright. But if Gills thought they were in for an easy ride. Exeter brought them back down to earth with a bump by reducing the deficit on 31 minutes. John Sitton was caught in two minds by a hopeful ball knocked over the top of the defence and succeeded only in presenting Peter Rogers with the chance to revive City. The second half could have been awkward for Gills. But a third goal, just three minutes after the break, did much to disperse any fears. Cochrane sent Mel Sage away down the left wing, Leslie met his cross at the far post. and although the ball bounced back off the bar. Weatherly was again in the right place at the right time to tuck it away. Gills, who replaced Cochrane with debu tant Phil Cavener, had two narrow escapes in the dying minutes of a game, which lived up to its promise of goals.