All posts tagged 'League-2'

Let's all enjoy the ride

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Thursday, April 11 2013


SATURDAY’S celebrations inside Priestfield are what makes it all worthwhile.
And 1,400 fans will be packed into Whaddon Road on Saturday hoping for an even more special occasion - with the League 2 title up for grabs.
I may not be a Gillingham fan as such, but having covered them home and away for the last seven years as part of a sports reporter for the KM, they are certainly a club I have a lot of time for.
So I was as pleased as anyone to see the Gills promoted back to League 1.
I certainly won’t miss some of the ropey League 2 reporting facilities on offer, with the likes of York City springing to mind.
Sheffield United, Coventry and even maybe the likes of Blackburn and Wolves could be on the fixture list next season.
This season must have cost the faithful Gills fans a massive amount, with some mammoth journeys. It makes the trip to Cheltenham this weekend seem like a local derby.
And it’s sure to have that feeling. 
Cheltenham fans may be keen to show Martin Allen their displeasure - having seen their club drop a league and head towards non-league football under his reign.
But I’m sure the 1,400 Gills fans will easily be able to drown out any negative sentiment coming from the home ranks.
It isn’t the first time that Allen has returned to Cheltenham as manager but he won’t have many happy memories from his last visit.
Allen’s Brentford team - with Stuart Nelson in goal - suffered a 5-0 defeat.
Nobody will be expecting the Gills to suffer such similar problems this weekend.
When I was younger I once read the book by Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch. It was all about his life following Arsenal. It earned rave reviews but I never got it.
He would get upset if the team didn’t get to Wembley or win the league. That’s not real football for me.
I once went from Lincoln to Colchester and saw us lose 7-1 and traveled all the way to Wigan’s old shambles of a ground for an LDV Cup game - or something similar. Missed the first half and saw us lose without a shot.
Gillingham fans have endured some torrid times themselves. Just mentioning ‘Accrington away’ will send a shudder through the spine.
But only when you have tasted the very worst can you appreciate the very best.
Football is all about the roller-coaster and there is no denying that being a Gillingham fan offers plenty of highs and lows.
When I saw Martin Allen this week in his office the phone was already buzzing with calls from football agents. The plan for League 1 is already underway.
And let’s hope now for many more highs than lows. The Gills fans have certainly deserved this moment.
Roll on Saturday.


Relaxed Gills could make for exciting finale

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Thursday, April 4 2013
If Monday’s game against Rotherham was anything to go by we could be in for some entertaining displays in the next few weeks.
The Gills went back to basics over the winter (the calender winter that is) and even the manager admits it wasn’t particularly pretty to watch.
But the Gills have ridden the storm and now at home they are playing far more relaxed football.
If you have sat anywhere near Martin Allen during a game he will probably shout the word relax at his players more than any other.
A relaxed Gills team is capable of playing some good entertaining stuff, just like we saw at the start of the season, with regular big wins on home soil.
And now that promotion is all-but sorted it could be time for the Gills to really start expressing themselves.
Chris Whelpdale looked the business going forward on Monday and big striker Danny Kedwell has been enjoying his extended run in the starting XI.
There was anxiety at Priestfield and maybe the mood in the stands has helped to de-stress the players. As the atmosphere has risen so has the players’ performance levels.
Big crowd are sure to accompany the Gills everywhere they go now and even the hardened moaners are running out of things to shout about.
With positive vibes on and off the pitch - stemming from a manager who has been ice cool throughout - we may well see the return of some big wins.
The Gills haven’t beaten a side by more than a goal since January 29 - 14 games ago. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a few sides get a thumping?
And no doubt Martin Allen would love nothing better than heading back to Cheltenham - a place where he has few happy memories from his management days - and secure promotion with a handsome win.
Four games left, four beatable teams, let’s hope the Gills finish the season off in style now and lift a Football League title for only the second time in the club’s history. If the positive and easy-going mood continues there is no reason why they can’t.

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Categories: Gillingham | Gillingham FC | Gills

Title shot may be just the beginning for Gills

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Monday, March 25 2013

Gillingham are in with a chance of claiming the League 2 title with five weeks of the season remaining.

But if they can hold onto top spot just which way will they turn.

Over the last 20 years the winners of the division’s basement division have gone in many different directions afterwards, from euphoric heights to catastrophic collapses.

Some of the winners of recent years have gone onto achieve great success, such as the winners in 2000, Swansea City.

A move into a new stadium coincided with bigger crowds and success on the pitch. Next season they will be playing European football after their Capital One Cup triumph over Bradford.

Twenty years ago it was their South Wales bitter rivals Cardiff City who were tasting the title champagne and it looks like the Premiership is within their sights now as they sit pretty at the top of the Championship table.

Wigan Athletic won that title four years after Cardiff, in a chase for honours that saw fellow Premier League side Fulham finish second.

Brighton have taken their time to reach their full potential - not helped by ground problems - but now in a new home they are chasing a play-off place in the Championship this season and building what is a solid club now at the AMEX.

But while there have been great success stories there have also been some clubs who have failed to make the most of their success.

Poor old Rushden & Diamonds won the league a decade ago but back-to-back relegations saw them drop into the Football Conference before they eventually folded under the weight of crippling debts.

Plymouth Argyle had won the title the year before Rushden and they too have suffered a tale of financial woes. Just two points separate them and the relegation places in League 2.

But for the majority of clubs who have won this League 2 title, they have at least held their own or gone onto bigger and better things.

Chesterfield came straight back down last season but few others have.

Of the last 20 title winners 12 (which includes two wins for Carlisle, in 1995 and 2006) are in League 1 and only two are playing in League 2.

Wigan and Swansea are having contrasting fortunes in the Premier League, while Cardiff and Brighton are both dreaming of reaching the top flight this season.

So for the Gills there is not just a title to aim for but much more. This could be the start of great times ahead. If Mr Scally can get his dream stadium as well, which will boost revenue and crowds, there is a fairly well trodden path to bigger and much better things ahead.

Now with six games left let’s hope the Gills can match what the team of ‘64 and take the title.

All-action fixture-list could benefit Gills

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Monday, March 18 2013

THE LAST few weeks of the season often sees a number of dead-rubber fixtures that mean little to either team.

But the fact that there could be something riding on every Gillingham game from now to the end of the season may well benefit Martin Allen’s side.

The sticky moments this season have arisen when teams have sat back deep, settling for a point.

But with Gillingham’s last eight games being against either promotion hopefuls or relegation threatened teams, nobody will have the luxury of settling for a point.

At the business end points aren’t going to be any use to anyone. It means teams will have to play more open football and that could suit the Gills, as they make the most of that space, like they did at the start of the season.

The rollercoaster starts this Tuesday night when the Gills visit a Rochdale side still needing points to steer clear of an ever-gripping relegation tussle.

Rochdale sit just above a six-way scrap, where only one point separates all six teams.

From Tuesday on it really is make or break for those sides facing the Gills.

Accrington, who visit Priestfield on Saturday, sit bottom of the league at present, with the worst goal difference. Only wins now will save them.

At the end of March the Gills head to a Fleetwood side in the last chance saloon as they chase a play-off place. Draws won’t do for them either.

April begins with the visit of a Rotherham side who still harbour ambitions of gate-crashing the automatic promotion party. Their visit is followed by the arrival of a Torquay side plummeting headlong towards non-league football.

In the first half of the season Torquay were sitting on the edge of the play-offs but with just one win in 18 they are in a desperate state.

In mid-April the Gills head to Cheltenham, where their former boss Martin Allen is sure to come under fire, after a disappointing stint there. The Robins currently sit fourth and could sneak a place in the top three.

Wimbledon are the last team to visit Priestfield and unless they sustain their recent good form, they too could be needing points to keep clear of trouble.

The excitement ends on April 28 when Burton Albion host the Gills. Hopefully by then everything will be done and dusted for the Gills, but for Burton, they may well be looking to take an automatic promotion place alongside Allen’s men.

None of those sides should be sitting back and so hopefully that means the Gills will have space to attack and finish the season off in style, just like they started it.

Torquay appeal could throw play-offs into disarray

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Wednesday, April 27 2011

THE League 2 table might make better reading for Gillingham fans after Monday’s win but things may not be as clear-cut as they seem.

Had it not been for a one-point deduction handed out to Torquay at the start of this month by the Football League then the Seagulls would be sitting sixth and the Gills would still be in eighth - a place outside of the play-offs.

Torquay’s crime was to field a player in the game against Hereford who wasn’t registered before the transfer deadline. Ironically, Hereford committed the same offence in the same game and were hit by a three-point deduction. 

League 2 table

The deadline for registering an appeal against the decision is on Wednesday, May 4, four days after Torquay’s crucial match against Chesterfield on Friday night.

If Torquay lose that game they head into the final weekend with the real possibility of missing out on the play-offs. That point could very well be significant. The Torquay board must decide by the middle of next week whether to lodge an appeal and in doing so possibly throwing the whole of the play-offs into disarray.

The Football League would need to take swift action as the first leg of the League 2 play-offs are due to take place just 10 days after the appeal deadline. It could get very messy.

Torquay’s official comment as of today was "no comment" and apparently there was a board meeting to discuss matters on Wednesday afternoon.

Gillingham fans will no doubt be quite keen for an official statement from Torquay to let people know whether or not they will appeal. The silence will leave everyone in suspense until Wednesday.

In the decency of fair play surely they have to show their cards now, before they face Chesterfield on Friday. If they were to lose that and then appeal it wouldn’t be seen as very sporting.

The Football League will no doubt look down badly at the club if an appeal throws the end of season into disarray. They are already facing criticism over the on-going will-they, won’t-they saga over a possible points deduction for Championship leaders QPR  – over a different matter entirely.

Torquay need to make a decision now and in the future the Football League need to be more decisive and act quicker. It’s ludicrous to be heading into the final fortnight of the season with so many grey areas.

What if the season ended with the current League 2 table as it is? Torquay would miss out by a point and the Gills would be in the play-offs courtesy of that point deduction. No doubt the Gulls fans wouldn’t be too happy.

Meanwhile Hereford are now battling against relegation because of the three points they were deducted for the same offence. It could well cost them their Football League status. Three points were deducted because they won the game against Torquay.

Even the difference in the points deduction seems madness. The same offence - different punishments. It’s not as if Torquay gained anything from the match so why lose a point?

It’s a bit of a shambles all-round and let’s hope it doesn’t cloud the end of what has been an exciting League 2 season.

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Categories: Football | Gillingham FC | Gills

A new low

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Tuesday, October 5 2010

I’VE been covering Gillingham for around six years now and Saturday’s performance has to be the most bizarre game of them all - and there have been some shockers.

Having watched most of Gillingham’s away games over that time I have been witness to more than my far share of dodgy defending, goalkeeping howlers and out-right terrible performances.

It’s been a tough few years for the Gillingham faithful. 7-0 at Shrewsbury, 6-0 at Bristol City, 5-0 at Colchester, 4-1 at Millwall, 5-0 at Carlisle...dare I mention Burcough!

The first thing Hessy did after the game on Saturday was to get a copy of the DVD and re-run the horror with assistant boss Ian Hendon. Needless to say it was a long wait for the post-match interviews, particularly as the Gills boss then had to have a word with the less-than-helpful referee Iain Williamson.

Gillingham’s away form has been bad for so long now that I’m struggling to think of an away trip where they really wiped the floor with anyone in the last few years. When Stan Ternant arrived at Priestfield the first thing he commented on was how can a team so good at home be so poor away?

It’s an answer that nobody has found the solution to. It now looks like Hess has had enough and comments this week suggest he’s ready to off-load players who seem incapable of playing on away soil. It’s clearly a psychological barrier that some players have struggled to get past.

At home the Gills were fantastic last season, and again looked solid this one (apart from Lincoln) and it’s amazed me to see how players with genuine talent just seem to crumble when they head up the motorway.

It’s forced us to look into the history books in recent weeks and make calls to club historian Roger Triggs. Saturday’s loss made it 28 league games without an away win - equalling the record that had stood since the early 90s. Next away game for the Gills is at league leaders Port Vale.

We had a bit of debate about whether Wembley was regarded as an "away" fixture and because it’s neutral territory that doesn’t count and so the total record, league and cup, is now 32 - which is a worst ever run in the club’s history.

Fear not though, it’s nowhere near the record set by Crewe Alexandra in the mid-50s. They went 56 away games without a win and I’m sure that won’t be beaten by the Gills....surely!


Back to reality

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Sunday, September 26 2010

IT was back to normality with a bump for myself at Priestfield on Saturday.

After spending the last two Saturday afternoons with my feet up, enjoying the glorious sunshine in Spain, I was back in the press box at Priestfield this weekend.

It may still be September but it was freezing up at the back of the Medway Stand and the gloves and woolly hat are definitely coming out for the match against Southend on Tuesday night.

I like the fact that Burton came looking for a win, a rather refreshing change and something I don’t think we’ll see at Priestfield too often this season, although their football wasn’t exactly creative.

Unfortunately where Burton went Gillingham followed and there was a bit too much long ball going on for my liking and clearly for Andy Hessenthaler as well. He managed to get the team a bit more disciplined after the break and I reckon by 90 minutes the Gills deserved the win.

Quick to rub salt in the wounds, one of our regular contributors to the coveritlive text commentary let me know it was 32c over in Spain. Thanks for that GillSpain!

Looking outside from the KM Medway office the weather is still looking pretty grim at the minute on Sunday evening. We have just about finished putting together the Monday paper, which is pretty chocker this week following a lengthy post-match press conference after the game on Saturday.

Hessy is a top man when it comes to dealing with the press and a far cry from some recent managers at Priestfield.

The job of a local footy reporter can be made pretty difficult if the manager isn’t very cooperative or doesn’t appreciate the value of the media.

There are certainly still some characters about in football and it was quite refreshing to sit in on a press conference with Southend boss Paul Sturrock recently. He waltzed in after pretty much telling Gills’ assistant Ian Hendon to hurry up "because I need the toilet." Although his language was less polite!

I think Ian was all-too happy to cut short his press commitments after Hess decided to let his no.2 do the duties that evening.

Throughout the week we have to deal with non-league managers across Kent and you certainly get a mixed back. I have spent some time this Sunday trying to get some reaction to Chatham’s win over Walton. The manager didn’t answer his phone, the assistant did - but he was in Trinidad - and the player/coach got sent off in the game for an "off the ball incident" so it was no surprise he didn’t pick up!

Back to Hess and he was telling us about new boy Bruce Inkango and how he turned up without a suit on Saturday. Eager to avoid an early fine he apparently borrowed the kit-man Malcom’s suit from when they went to Wembley and it fitted a dream. They even managed to dig him out a tie. Pic of Malcolm below! Hopefully Malc didn't leave any fags in the pockets.

I was quite interested to see Nicky Southall giving Bruce several minutes of instructions before he came on as sub. Apparently Bruce's English isn't very good so god knows how that conversation went!

It was good news to hear that Simon King might be on the way back before Christmas, though he really does need to sort that barnet out. Hess said it makes him look like a girl but if he can recapture the form of old I guess nobody will really care.

I also heard the match-day announcer Doug say it was Barry Fuller’s birthday on Saturday. All the records I have found suggest his birthday is in August and the Gills press officer looked none the wiser. Does anyone know how old Fuller really is?

Anyway, roll on Southend, and if you are going don’t forget to wrap up warm!



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Categories: Gills

Time to deliver

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Tuesday, September 21 2010

After two weeks in Spain I expected to return to see the Gills flying high in League 2 but I was shocked to see them sitting in 20th - just a point off bottom team Barnet.

Looking at things from afar it’s easy to see why so many people are getting agitated, after all the bookies were tipping the Gills to win the league, the manager and chairman were saying much the same, and most fans expect to be back in League 1 next season.

We are only seven games in and it’s still early but the gap between the Gills and top team Shrewsbury (the only team Gills have beaten so far) is already 10 points and margins like that aren’t easy to make up, especially when you’re scratching around trying to get a result.

Injuries have clearly hampered the Gills so far but a lack of confidence must also be creeping in. Players are big worriers and they’ll be only too aware of how disappointing the results have been. The longer it goes on the harder it’s going to be to get into a winning swing. The last minute blunder at Bradford must have been a massive body-blow to the players, as well as the fans.

Lance Cronin was singled out by the Gills boss for his error on Saturday but the players need to take collective blame - after all, where were the goals? When you don’t score you are always putting yourself under added pressure.

That pressure is mounting and it’s no surprise to hear the fans getting frustrated. The team looks good enough on paper and they need to start proving they are good enough by getting some points on the board.

Luckily we’re still in September and all is not lost. With two winnable home games coming up, against Burton and Southend, this really could be the time for the Gills to get going.

While on my hols I did have the pleasure to witness France being beaten by a last minute goal against Belarus - much to the annoyance and anger of the bar full of Les Bleus fans. I imagine there was much the same reaction from Gillingham fans in Bradford following the late defeat there.

There is never a shortage of under-performing teams and at the moment Gills are doing that in a big way. Hopefully the Gills can head into October with six more points and start hunting down those table-toppers. 

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Categories: Gills | Sport

Oh we do love to be beside the seaside (just not in Morecambe)

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Monday, August 30 2010

Eric Morecambe without Ernie Wise is a bit like playing well but not scoring.

To have them both together is a bonus and it’s something Gillingham are not getting right at the moment.

Against the Morecambe football team the Gills should have walked away with their first away win since May 09, but instead only just escaped with a point.

I suppose if you are going to draw a game, it’s always more satisfying to come from behind late on, and the final few minutes at Morecambe were pretty entertaining for the handful of Gills fans who had made the trip.

Only against Lincoln, and when the defence imploded against Norwich, have the Gills looked bad but without those goals it’s meant a hard slog for Andy Hessenthaler’s men in the first month of the season.

I don’t think there is any need to panic just yet though. Players are still coming back (seven were out injured on Saturday) and those teams with bigger squads generally come out on top in the end, and in League 2 the Gills certainly have a sizeable and decent bunch to choose from.

There were mixed responses from anyone I spoke to about Morecambe’s ground and personally there was a feeling that something was not quite right about it.

To have built a new stadium that is pretty much three-sided seems quite bizarre and it the whole place felt a bit bland.

I can understand them not wanting to go over-board like Darlington and build a stadium ridiculously excessive for their needs, but Morecambe seem to have gone the complete opposite and spent millions on a new ground that does little to capture the imagination.

The fans behind the Shrimps goal were largely quiet as well and even the lad with the drum seemed to have lost his enthusiasm.

We had a little drive to the sea-front after the game and I’m not sure if it was the weather (cold and wet) but the place was deserted and dreary. The only action was at the pub on the sea-front that was swarming with police and drunken girls.

On a plus side though the chips and curry sauce were top quality. A statue of a jovial Eric Morecambe looks quite out of place here but he obviously came when the sun was out.

It was great to see Danny Spiller off the mark with a goal at Morecambe and the way the players celebrated suggests there is a real team spirit developing, something that I think is going to be key.

It was a trip to Morecambe last time the Gills were in League 2 that helped change their season.

The Gillingham team, who at the time were struggling to force their way into the play-off picture, took in away games against Morecambe and Port Vale and stayed over for almost a week for a real team bonding exercise. They won them both and did enough in the second half of the season to make the play-offs.

Let’s hope the trip on Saturday can kick start this current campaign.

For anybody that is already writing the Gills off, it’s worth remembering that Barnet made the early running last season, under Ian Hendon, but with no funds to strengthen when they needed the extra push the team soon started to slide and only just avoided relegation at the end of the campaign.

Like the Gills, Bradford are also failing to live up to expectations and Peter Taylor made some refreshing comments after a shock 2-0 home defeat to Southend. He took the blame, saying: “I’m the one that puts the players together and when they play like that it’s my fault.”

“I signed the majority of the players so the way we played is down to me. There are no excuses.”

It’s nice to see a manager taking responsibility and I’m sure the expectation levels at Bradford (joint faves for promotion with the Gills) means he’s under massive pressure to succeed.

Chairman aren’t, generally, very lenient these days and Alan Pardew lasted just three league games before getting the boot.

A draw and a defeat was followed by a 4-0 win over Bristol Rovers, but that wasn’t good enough for the Southampton board. As for the Gills, it’s back to the seaside tonight.

The short trip (dependent on the Dartford crossing) across to Essex beckons as the Gills face Southend in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy South East section.

Not a game to arouse a great deal of excitement but there is a Wembley final at the end of it.

It’s the first time since February 1999 that the Gills have had an away match in the Football League Trophy, when they lost to a golden goal against Millwall.

I’ll be making the trip over and if you want to follow the action via our live commentry service then visit at 7.15pm. We’re getting plenty of followers so far and had one chap from New Zealand logging in on Saturday while watching whales out of his window.

If all you’ve got to look out of the window is a row of parked cars and your neighbours house, then let’s hope the action at Roots Hall keeps you entertained.

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Categories: Gills

Welcome to League 2

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Thursday, August 12 2010

Gillingham got a rude and a little belated welcome to life in League 2 by Hereford on Saturday.

Hereford’s Edgar Street is one of those football grounds that probably hasn’t changed since the days when they used to parade a bull around the pitch before kick-off.

I’m not sure whether it was health and safety or the animal’s toiletry habits that finally ended that little tradition.

The old cattle market outside (I think that’s what it was) has been turned into a car park and at just £1 to park even I could afford it and even the strange smell of urine wafting around the place didn’t put me off.

I don’t know what the changing rooms were like but the press facilities were a little cramped.

Apparently the press-box was “reserved” for others and so it meant squeezing in between the Hereford fans. It was a little cramped.

On the field the Gills were getting much the same kind of welcome as Hereford’s giant-sized team put their weight around whenever possible.

It must take some doing to put Adebayo Akinfenwa on the deck, but big Hungarian brute Janos Kovacs managed it just before half-time.

Mark Bentley also got a whack and Andy Barcham spent much of the first half hobbling around after a crude challenge.

“Bayo” got to his feet in time for a rant at whoever was in his vicinity as the teams left for half-time. Hessy had the job of guiding him back to the changing rooms.

The Gills should have won the game. Chris Palmer spanked the post in the first half and Danny Spiller was unlucky in injury time not to have finally ended that away run without a win. It’s been 27 games now, but I’m sure it won’t be long now.

Because I have the pleasure of following Gillingham home and away every weekend it means I don’t get to see my own team very often, and so the visit of the mighty Imps this weekend is a rare “treat”.

Ever since my Dad took me to Sincil Bank for the first time I have been stuck supporting one of the worst teams in the league. Unfortunately when you live in Lincolnshire there isn’t a lot of choice when it comes to football teams, so you can either play it or head down to Lincoln and watch it. The City had a thriving Saturday and Sunday League set-up.

I got drunk once as well and as a bet got a Lincoln Imp tattoo. So that’s me stuck with them!

Lincoln took six points off the Gills last time the sides were in the same division, much to my surprise, and Chris Sutton’s team need some points desperately this time around.

The Imps are currently holding up the rest of the league following defeats to Rotherham and Torquay.

I think I was destined to have some connection with the Gills as I still own a Gillingham FC hat which I found at Sincil Bank when I was a kid. I don’t remember the score, but no doubt Lincoln lost, we’re good at that, but I did win a new hat that day so if anyone dropped their Gillingham hat in Lincoln, thanks.

Gills fans may get to see Delroy Facey in action again on Saturday as he was one of Sutton’s summer signings, along with Albert Jarrett. Needless to say I wasn’t going down the bookies to put money on Lincoln getting promoted, or indeed getting back involved in the play-offs.

The only good thing about supporting Lincoln is that we know we’re rubbish and so anything is a bonus. Just a goal would be nice on Saturday and I’m not expecting much more as Hess seems to have put together a decent side.
Last time Lincoln were in town the Gills were beaten and trudged off to a chorus of boos, with the manager insisting that he would “never win the fans over.”

I can’t see that happening this weekend.

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Categories: Gills | Sport

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