In torrid conditions, Torquay United once again found a way to drop points. It wasn’t difficult to stomach because we were typically woeful, but because we weren’t – to paraphrase the great Alan Knill; it felt like a loss.
We bossed the possession counter for the first 45 and to come away at the break in the lead was nothing short of deserved. A just penalty was clinically dispatched by Brett Williams, who will surely seek a National League team next season. A recurrence of better performances gone by, the classic cliché of making your possession count would ring true once again today but it didn’t feel that way heading to half-time.
Solihull bucked up their ideas in the second half and the game became a long, wintry slog. They pushed for an equaliser in a game that by their own admission, was one they could not afford to lose – a draw was passable for the Midlands outfit; but not us. We capitalised on that pressure and returned 5 or 6 perfectly formed counter attacks – none were dispatched, with final balls/shots that drew more questions than they answered.
Heartbreak as usual, was delivered in the last ten minutes. A goal which I have seen us concede all season – whipped in from the left and nobody takes responsibility to clear it.
I was resigned to relegation long ago, away at Wrexham to precise, but this wasn’t a performance like that, I didn’t come away with a sense of disgust – more so disappointment that I haven’t seen us play like that anywhere near enough times this season.
Balatoni 6 Sokolik 7 McGinty 5
Barnes 8 Lemonheigh-Evans 6 Young 5 O’Sullivan 5 Davis 6
Romain 8.5 Williams 8
Healey N/A Keating N/A Klukowski N/A
Man of the Match:
The man is an absolute machine, I absolutely love watching him play. His ability to win a ball is second to none – it’s Kevin Hill like, heart is more valuable than height in Elliot’s case and it’s absolutely no surprise that the crowd have warmed to him so quickly. He works his socks off from the first second to the last and as I’ve said before, that’s enough for Torquay fans – the added bonus is his quality on and off the ball – a very intelligent footballer and great fun to watch.
Our front-line was delightful, for the first time this season we have a partnership – an actual partnership. Brett Williams is an asset to any team at this level and once again his quality shined through. He’s lively, full of tricks and dangerous. He showed maturity and professionalism to finish a pressure-kick penalty and has again cemented his place in the squad.
The Tactics Board:
I was a little disappointed with the substitutes at 1-1 – I’m very much of the opinion we should have just thrown absolutely everything forward and gone hell for leather, rather than like for like strikers and a holding midfielder – a draw is useless to us at this point.
That being said, there has to be a time where you leverage some responsibility to the players on the pitch. 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 3-5-2… It doesn’t matter when push came to shove in a game like that – the bottom line is we didn’t have the quality or the mentality to cement that result.
Solihull Moors went into that game knowing that avoiding defeat would be enough. It was a simple, no thrills performance but they set-up resolutely and will be the happier team. Their set-piece wasn’t particularly challenging, but we’ve been conceding goals like that all season and it was almost inevitable once the 80th minute struck.
Neil Hair had a tidy game. Solihull could have no complaints about the penalty, nor us the free-kick and generally, I think he made his decisions fairly and sensibly in what was obviously a very unique game to manage weather-wise.
In the minutes building up to what would be the Solihull goal, Elliot Romain attempted a drilled effort across from Torquay’s right which the Solihull keeper, O’Leary, did fantastically well to keep out. It looked for all the world it would see us into a 0-2 lead, alas, less than two minutes later we found ourselves level, such are the fine margins.
I feel as though I’m watching Titus Bramble when it comes to Sean McGinty – he’ll be consistently tidy all match and then suddenly, out of the blue, he’ll skew a pass, miss a header and uselessly punt a sensible ball out of the stratosphere – today was much the same. I don’t think defensively we’re as comfortable with this formation as we’d like, Sean in particular has a hard time organising the back line.
Away Day Overview:
An absolutely fantastic away day. Nestled adjacent to Birmingham International’s runway, the ground itself is as basic as they come and more in-tune with the architecture we can expect next season, but with that comes character and from the second we arrived, I felt incredibly welcome. The relentlessly friendly Solihull faithful work hard to ensure a wonderful match-day experience from start to finish, almost everybody said hello on our way in and it was just a pleasant place to be – even the club photographer, who best resembled a snowman, offered us some cheerful conversation across the hoarding. The pints were cheap and aplenty, with a choice of three (possibly four) bars to choose from – you can’t ask for more than that. Half time saw a delicious veggie burger prepared, whilst the catering company gave us a time slot to come and pick it up so we didn’t miss any of the game. As for the yellow army, immense – I’ve seen 170 estimated, but I’m inclined to suggest we definitely had over 200 there – noisy throughout, I was (as always) proud to be a part of that.
Perhaps in another season, a 1-1 draw away at a team who are scrapping for their lives in Siberian-like conditions would be okay – but not now, we’ve put ourselves in a position where we have to win these games and anything less is a “points lost” scenario. Historically, I would say “never say never” especially with Torquay United, but to plan a route out of this would require the most ludicrous or situations, it’s beyond plausibility. Perhaps a positive result next week will paint a brighter picture, especially with Barrow v. Hartlepool in the week, but looking at wider results on Saturday, I wouldn’t count on it.
Guiseley, Plainmoor, Saturday 24th March, 15:00.