The scoreline on any other day would have flattered Gateshead, but as usual, we were the architects of our own downfall and fully deserved what we got.
Higgins 4 Anderson 4 McGinty 3 Chaney 3
Subs: Haworth 4, Gray 4, Keating 3
Man of the Match:
Ryan Clarke was brilliant again, the score could and should have been a bigger deficit but for some excellent shot-stopping, he kept it respectable despite his defense’s best efforts. Ryan’s distribution is exceptional and I think over the course of the season, he’ll win us more points than he costs us.
I can’t offer any honourable mentions I’m afraid, very few members of that squad can walk away proudly following that game.
Nicholson absolutely has to assess his options at left-back, Sam Chaney is not the answer. It was painful to watch as time and time again Gateshead peppered our left flank which was so vulnerable. There’s a quality player in Chaney and we’re going to end up ruining It by slotting him in positions he doesn’t play.
I remember Hargreaves playing an in-form Courtney Richards at Centre Back for a match at Alfreton Town and you could see his confidence draining away drop by drop, versatility can’t be forced..
To add to that, I also found the game time given to Andy Haworth completely bemusing, he’d joined the team at 22:00 the following night, I couldn’t help but think about the mindset of Keating and Gray when he was introduced for Jamie Reid in the first half, they must be wondering what they have to do.
Haworth, naturally, looked like he’d never met his teammates before.
The Tactics Board:
Nicho opted for a 4-1-4-1. The natural inclination is to assume the introduction of Damon Lathrope was to try and offer some protection to that back four, and to be fair the formation for me was probably correct; the team selection however, didn’t work. We’re desperately short up front and I cant fathom how in any way we can justify playing one up front this season until that improves; poor JP watched and watched as ball after ball sailed over his head. He had no support alongside him, let alone from the other nine outfield players on the pitch.
Let’s make no mistake, Gateshead always perform well at home and they’ve been a competitive side in this division for a number of years – today was never going to be an easy game.
The Heed set out with one clear instruction, attack down the right. Perhaps the press and constant reminders of our “emergency left-back” had filtered through, but it seemed a deliberate ploy.
We were well scouted, and without really leaving 3rd gear, they trounced us. They started and finished with a very rigid 4-4-2, we struggled to break them down and despite our only positive being some neat passing moves, rarely penetrated that system.
Referees at this level are appalling and nine times out of ten, there will be a reason to criticise them, today being no different. The second goal was a real hammer blow and it certainly appeared to be a good two yards offside. That being said, I felt absolutely no grievance to the call, it was a footnote on a day when we have plenty more to worry about. At no point did I feel confident of us taking a result from that game, the means in which Gateshead did it doesn’t really matter when that’s the case.
Given our lack of competitiveness, I’d suggest the first goal in the 19th minute was the key moment. I believed up until that point we might wake from the slumber and actually start the match, but it wasn’t to be.
Callum Williams, who absolutely ran that game from the right of midfield, drove a low cross into the corridor of uncertainty (football cliche clang) and neither Clarke or Higgins could afford to let it pass, their efforts pushed the ball over the line, and an own-goal resulted.
It wasn’t a good day for Sean. He has the talent, he can win a header with the best of them and i’ll always back him in a tackle, but my word that distribution has to be addressed. Time and time again, he aimlessly punted it forward. He’s clearly a key endorser of the “if in doubt, put it out” philosophy, but sometimes, you simply have to take a look and spread it wide.
Our inability to build from the back has been a recurring problem in our National League time, and until it’s addressed, we’re going to be hampered by it. Especially this season with the lack of a tangible aerial threat. We must do better than smack it aimlessly forward, the National League demands more than that.
Away Day Overview:
If ever there was an example of 90 minutes of football ruining a quality day, this was it. The atmosphere in and around Newcastle is absolutely fantastic and from the second you get on the train bound there, to the second you step in the stadium, it’s a quality, quality day. We drank in The Schooner just around the corner, with about 30 other Torquay fans, a quality little pub with some nice drinks to boot.
The International Stadium is an appalling platform for football. You’re so far away from the action, so isolated and so detached from any kind of atmosphere. The Heed Army do their best, but it’s impossible to engage with supporters you can barely see. Low-lights include some poor spirited ‘abuse’ from Gateshead fans, after they left the train. I like to think I can handle myself with football banter, but give me a chance to join in by being brave enough to say it before you leave the carriage! We would later be rejected from Nicholson’s Burgers (not a family business, i’m lead to believe) for showing Torquay colours, which again was absolutely absurd.
Not to take that away from it, as far as trips that far north go, it’s great excuse to see a wonderful City and meet some great people.
I haven’t hit the panic button just yet, and i’m certainly not on-board with those who think a managerial change one week into the season is a viable solution. Two out of our first three fixtures, difficult fixtures at that, we’ve competed well.
I’m making no excuses, today was absolutely, categorically not good enough, but it happens, you under-perform – the key to football, as with any walk of life, is to act on your mistakes and address the elements that aren’t right – Nicho deserves ten games, with a stable Club (he hasn’t had that, prior to this season) to do that. If, after ten games, we’re still struggling to get going, then the question can be asked; before it’s too late.
Boreham Wood, Home, Tuesday 15th August, 19:45.