I was as pessimistic as they come arriving into the ground, on the back of Macclesfield’s 6-0 humiliation away to AFC Fylde, I expected the league leaders to offer much more. Torquay at last showed something resembling character and can be pleased with an improved performance as they crept away with a point – granted, it will probably mean more at the top than the bottom, but a bit of pride in the shirt is enough for me at the moment.
It was a cagey first half, with an equal share of the proceedings a fair result, though how it was 0-0 and not 2-2, only the forward lines can answer. From a Macclesfield perspective, they offered a constant threat down either wing and a succession of drilled crosses, penalty area scrambles and “missed sitters” that would eventually be rued. Ryan Clarke pulled off a magnificent save right on the whistle which thankfully redeemed him of some calamitous handling earlier in the half. At the other end, Luke Young was denied a succession of chances at point-blank, whilst Jamie Reid will be disappointed not to have done better with a couple of opportunities.
It was telling that Ryan Clarke didn’t come back out for the second half, the cynic in me would suggest it wasn’t because of the limp he would later gain! It was much the same story as the second half rolled on, the Torquay defence rode its luck with a few snap shots at the other end. Eventually Macc would gain a foothold in the game and there was a sense of inevitability about their goal once it came – Danny Whitehead rivaling a powerful effort into the roof of the net.
Torquay’s goal was one of those, horrible, but you’ll take it. Jalal in the Macclesfield goal collided with his full-back, an instinctive reaction saw Elliot Romain pounce to secure a point for United – a hard-working performance from the striker and he deserved the reward. I was a little bit disappointed to see us somewhat, “sit-back” following that, but having acclimatized to Gary Ower’s defence-first mentality, it is to be expected. Better to take one point, than none, I suppose.
Torquay Fans making their Point at Macclesfield Town pic.twitter.com/jf8zLESRTg
— WSNLSOCCER (@wsnlsoccer) January 27, 2018
119 from the Yellow Army – pride of the club
Balatoni 6 Gowling 7 McGinty 5
Davis 5 Young 7 Barnes 7 Dowling 6 Efete 6
Reid 4 Romain 8
Subs: Dorel 6 Williams 5 O’Sullivan 4
Man of the Match:
I saw more effort from Elliot Romain than I’ve seen collectively from some Torquay sides this season, he worked his absolute socks off. Every single lost ball, skewed pass and half-chance he chased relentlessly and his goal was earned and then some. He might not be the biggest, but he throws himself about and rarely loses a header, I love that in a player. He held the ball up nicely and offers a different dimension to our play.
We’re a different team with Josh Gowling, his experience brings some much needed stubbornness to the back four and put simply, he knows how to defend. I’ve commented in games-gone-by this season that we’re far to quiet, he’s literally the only voice you ever hear – we need more of that. In addition, Young and Barnes complimented each other nicely through the middle, with the latter offering a solid enough foundation that offered Luke his creative freedom – they both looked like they enjoyed playing and they more than matched the Macclesfield middle.
— TORQUAYTALK (@TORQUAYTALK) January 27, 2018
The Tactics Board:
This formation leaves us susceptible in the wings and that was clear all afternoon, every Macclesfield attack that didn’t go through the middle resulted in a two-on-one and we were hopeless at preventing the ball from getting in the box. A team firing better up front would hold us accountable for that. We got in some good positions going forward, whether the signing of Brett Williams results in those eventually transferring to goals, remains to be seen.
A solid 4-4-2 from Macclesfield as they looked to instill some stability following a few difficult results. Whitaker was immense through the middle and I’ve been watching him put in that performance for the silkmen for years, everything goes through him and he dictates everything about their game. They will need to offer more to top the league come what May. From an ex-Torquay perspective, Blissett, Marsh and Evans all had disappointing games – Blissett in particular looked a shadow of his former self.
Some strange decisions from the Manchester based ref, nothing that drastically impacted the game, but it was very much a “look at me” performance. Needless discussions and a little bit card-happy.
Stay with me here, as I take on the ripple effect. In the minute before Romain’s goal, the Macclesfield winger turned his man and was breaking into the final third with a very dangerous situation developing. Balatoni did what Sunday league managers have been shouting for years and took one for the team = his tackle befitting of a Wigan Warriors game. He picked up a booking and the resulting Macclesfield free-kick came to nothing… 30 seconds later we were level, it’s a funny old game.
It’s been a really tough few weeks for Jamie and it didn’t get much better today. I really think Owers needs to show a bit of man-management here and take him out of the spotlight for a couple of weeks, it just isn’t working and he’s carrying a lot of pressure. A fully-firing Jamie Reid is an asset, I stand by that.
In any other circumstance, a point away at the league leaders is a point gained but such is our situation, every single point we fail to pick up, is a point closer to the trap-door – that is the stark reality. I’ll take heart from the fact we fought yesterday and we showed a bit of pride in our application – which is a decisive improvement from the Wrexham and Bromley fixtures. I’m not really of the opinion that we’re on the brink of a momentous run of form, nor do I think Brett Williams alone can propel us up the table, but if we at least show some passion in the remaining months, I’ll take that.
Barrow A.F.C, Plainmoor, Saturday 3rd February, 15:00.