A neat finish in the 79th minute from Liam Davis was the difference between two sides for whom quality was at a premium. Torquay probably – just about – deserved the three points, but both teams had guilt-edge opportunities and neither looked defensively solid.
In the first five minutes, Williams had the best chance of the game. Reid (in one of his very few fine moments) squared to his strike partner who blazed the ball over the bar from 15 yards. Just 20 minutes later, a Williams header looped onto the bar and it looked like it would be one of those nights.
It was the Romans’ turn to hit the bar in the second half as a cross from the Bath left evaded Davis who looked to have completely switched off. Luckily, the Bath forward was about as clinical as Williams was all game.
United picked up some momentum towards the end of the second half and had a flurry of corners, backed impressively by the 2000 Yellows fans. This pressure culminated in Davis’ goal. After a possible foul on Williams, Keating – who looked sharp and worked well with Brett, shock – broke free down the right-hand side of the box and flashed a shot across goal which was parried by Clarke. Davis took a touch and fired into the bottom right corner, scoring his first goal in a Torquay shirt.
Wynter 5 Sokolik 6 Koue-Niate 5 Cameron 7 Davis 7
Hall 4 Dickson 7 Regis 2
Reid 3 Williams 4
HT Subs: Nabi 6 Keating 6
Man of the Match: Ryan Dickson
This is rare, but I’m agreeing with the official decision on this. I have a horrible, horrible feeling that Ryan Dickson is on the path to being in the Luke Young mould of the-only-player-who-works-hard-and-is-good-on-the-ball-so-is-man-of-the-match-every-game. I hope other players step up, but he really was the only man in yellow who looked like he was too good to be in this league.
He’s got excellent feet, his delivery from set pieces is generally decent and he’s a good battler in midfield. I’m broadly underwhelmed by most of Owers’ signings in the last two seasons, but Dickson is very much the exception.
I’d like to give this to Kyle Cameron who is an unspectacular but very capable centre half. As I’ve said, we looked uncomfortable at the back tonight, but Cameron seems to be the standout of the back 5. The upgrade from McGinty is so stark: he can play ACCURATE long balls, he’s useful in the air, and he seems a real leader. The other difference is that instead of calling fans c-words, Cameron rallied the Popside during the game and gave us a huge clap afterwards. I know the circumstances were different, but it’s a good start
Another honourable mention should go to the fans tonight who were superb. At this level, 2000 home fans is a superb number for a Tuesday night, and the atmosphere that they created was excellent.
Control C, Control V. Same tactics as Owers has drummed into us for all of his dreary tenure. A 5-3-2 that lacked width, creativity and guile. Jacob Sokolik replaced the (presumably injured?) Essuman at the back.
Bath are rubbish. Ryan Clarke is still rubbish. They looked toothless up front, they gave the ball away a lot, they were defensively leaky – much like Torquay all of last season and in this game.
They’ll feel unlucky to be heading back to their Bristol bus stop without a point after they missed a couple of decent chances and held United off for 78 minutes. Imagine having Gary Owers as your former gaffer and him getting one over on you though. Embarrassing.
The officials were alright tonight. They got a bit of flack from the Popside for the occasional offside decision, but that’s par for the course.
I noticed that there was no fourth official tonight. When subs were made a member of each club’s staff held up the board, and the additional time was presented by that geeza who walks round with Gilbert and the mascots before the game. Is this the custom in the National League South? Answers on a postcard please.
The only decision of some contention came in the dying seconds where Ruairi was hacked down near the corner flag. The referee decided against sending the Bath player for an early…bath, but it could have gone either way.
Other than the obvious – the goal – a key moment has to be one of Torquay’s many last ditch defensive scraps. In around the 70th minute, a Bath midfielder dodged three or four very half-hearted Yellow tackles while running through the centre of the pitch and it took a well-timed slide from Ryan Dickson to prevent an embarrassingly straightforward goal for the Romans. For sure, our midfield lacks a real battler. I thought Hall was that man, but he was extremely average this evening.
Player Spotlight: Jean-Yves Koue Niate
I’d like to focus on another centre half – Jean-Yves Koue Niate. I’m still struggling to work out if I like him. There’s a very fine line between defensive donkey and defensive beast, between Exodus Geohaghon and Guy Branston, between Yellow scapegoat and Yellow GOAT. Which side of that line Jean-Yves falls down on, I’m really not sure.
He is undoubtedly good in the air, strong and commanding. That said, Tyson Fury would be those things and I wouldn’t fancy him at the heart of our defence. I hope that Niate’s footwork mistakes become more of a rarity and he turns out to be a great signing – I think it’ll define our season.
MacDonald, Wynter, Sokolik, Hall, Regis, Nabi and arguably Niate did nothing to convince me that #OwersRecruitment is going to change Torquay United FC for the better. MacDonald was uncomfortable, Wynter unconvincing, Sokolik slow, Hall ineffective, Regis useless and Nabi even slower than Sokolik. Reid was piss poor too, and Williams was as lazy as we’ve come to expect (and reluctantly accept).
But that’s enough negativity for one day. A very rare thing happened: we won a game of football and we kept a clean sheet. If you can’t be happy after that then you’ve got to be a massive curmudgeon…or just a rational Torquay fan who’s seen it all before.