Following a strong week of four points on the road, Gary Owers’ men couldn’t make it three unbeaten as a strong Hartlepool second half saw the visitors score two and take all three points.
In reality, United were their own worst enemy this afternoon. Ruairi Keating, Jamie Reid and Josh McQuoid all missed great opportunities to give the Gulls the lead, and it’s the same problem again and again, no goals. Pools’ keeper Scott Loach did keep the visitors in the game on more than one occasion, especially a point-blank save from a Josh McQuoid effort. Keating though with the best chance of the game, a free header yards from the goal, fired well wide.
As the teams went into the dressing rooms at half time I really was trying to work out how we weren’t four nil up. But this is Torquay, cue the Hartlepool resurgence. Straight from the first whistle of the second half, they were on top. It took until the 54th minute for Hartlepool to take the lead, a cross that was headed in right at the near post. I think Dorel could have done better to be perfectly honest.
The second, probably the most unlucky goal Torquay will concede all season, a deflected shot from distance beating Dorel. Cliché, I know, but it’s luck like that needs to go our way sometimes and unfortunately that killed the game off. Reid came close again at the end but his effort was palmed away by Loach. I genuinely thought we could get a result today and kick on, but it wasn’t to be, although Gary Owers will be pleased with some of today’s performance.
Efete 7 Gowling 6.5 McGinty 6
Higgins 6 Evans 6.5 Young 7 Myrie-Williams 7
Keating 6 Reid 7
Subs: Lathrope 6 Dowling 6 Anderson N/A
Man of the Match – Jamie Reid
All that was missing from Reidy today was a goal, and he came close on a few occasions, but for some great saves. I’ve been trying to work out where this form has come from. Is it moving to his preferred striker position? Is it being a permanent player rather than a loan player? Is it Gary Owers?
No idea, but whatever it is, he’s hit a real purple patch. I actually think he’s been better all season than he was last year, but his consistent energy and effort made him stand out for me today. I think Keating, who I like as a player, is the wrong strike partner for Jamie as they’re fairly similar players, but with Rhys Murphy injured that couldn’t have been helped.
Luke Young had another good game today, I thought he looked below par early in the season but it’s good to see his performances picking up. I thought that considering he was drafted in at the absolute last minute, Jenison Myrie-Williams had a good game. Not a natural wing/full back, but was assured in place of new daddy Liam Davis. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Jenison yet, when he’s at full fitness I think there is a good player in there.
I’m a big fan of the three at the back system. I’ve seen it used in the Premier League last season and I’m surprised it’s taken this long for it to catch on. Credit to Gary Owers for trying something different, it seems that he now has his system. I think the key players who have made this work are Michee Efete, Liam Davis and Higgins. Hopefully, with this system we can see a bit more of Higgins creating chances from the wing. I think he could be a really good player, he just needs to improve on simple things.
Hartlepool looked ok. They never really got a sniff in the first half and they had goalkeeper Loach and some poor Torquay finishing to thank for being level at the break. But they knew we should have taken first half chances and exploited that in the second half. They seem to be an inconsistent team, one where with some sharpening up they could threaten the teams in the playoff picture, but also could get pulled into the relegation mixer.
A very good game for the referee today. I don’t have much to say about him which is how it should be with a good ref.
Ruairi Keating’s header. I really like Ruairi but he just has to score that. Yards out, only the keeper to beat and it goes well wide. If that chance goes in, all of a sudden Hartlepool have it all to do.
Player Spotlight – Callum Evans
In a squad where we are blessed with midfielders, we have ample options for that holding midfield anchor role and Evans is that man for me. Ok, his game isn’t the best and there are things he can work on, but he does a good job of protecting the back 3. He has a good range of passing as well. Good loan signing and he’s doing very well to keep young George Dowling out of the side.
I think 2 – 0 flattered Hartlepool a bit today, but we only have ourselves to blame, I know I keep saying it but not taking chances will be our downfall. But the first half overall display gives me confidence that it’s nearly there. Someone once told me, work on the performance and the goals will come. The performances are there, now we need the goals!
Sam Druiff – TT Contributor
VIEWS FROM BRISTOWS
“The first 20 mins were the best I have seen us play for I don’t know how long. Familiar failings in front of goal cost us; Ruairi really should have put one away, his confidence is in tatters. In the end Hartlepool showed resilience, some quality and we panicked. Have we turned the corner was the question…not yet is the answer”.
Dominic – TT Editor