Rachel Malloch – @RachelVillavox
A glorious sunny afternoon at Plainmoor, the Popside and Bristow’s Bench filling up respectfully for the NLS game against the part timers of London borough Richmond upon Thames – Hampton and Richmond against home side and former league club Torquay Utd. Taking to my seat after foregoing a drink in the Gull’s Nest bar, you’d be forgiven for thinking I’d had a skinful the confusion held whilst looking for my seat but no, the reserved name label afforded to every season ticket had gone. No matter. Sort that out with the admin team. A strongly worded phone call imminent.
Torquay started the first half with a change of ends attacking towards the away end with a now familiar sight of empty terraces. An untidy game ensues, with an early long ball chased down by Reid an early indication that perhaps there would be some intent. Torquay won a free kick in a decent area, Dickson lofts the ball into the box evading all and Hampton clear. The game staggers along, another Reid shot on goal on 15 minutes that’s blocked and cleared. Hampton go on the attack, a clumsy header from Liam Davis falls into the path of Wellard but he skies his shot high and wide. Another shot driven in low finds Bass equal to the threat.
The half sees several free-kicks taken by Dickson that come to nothing. Then, on the half hour point, Hampton win a corner. Ball floats in and forward Brett Williams proving why defence isn’t his forte, slices the ball just over the bar. Another corner again finds Williams who appeared to duck under it, with the unfortunate Samir Nabi poking it home giving the visitors the lead.
The game then sees a speculative overhead kick from Williams for Torquay that finds his boot entrenched in the boat race of Hampton’s Charlie Burns. Referee Scott Jackson holds up play for treatment.
The game wimpers out into a series of misplaced passes, misdirected balls and a poor play generally from both sides. At this juncture, the visiting team look the more likely to score and are finding space and time to open up the Torquay midfield and a twitchy defence. Torquay win a corner kick that, like many of their forward moves, comes to nothing. Hampton played the delaying tactic game very well, with every foul came a sluggish slow to move on response, which served only to add to an already sloppy game.
If we thought that on the half time whistle Torquay manager Gary Owers would quote Henry V, inspire the players to lift their games and they would come out guns blazing for the second, with Ruairi Keating replacing the ineffectual Jason Banton the only change, the game continued in a sloppy, clumsy, error strewn manner, Torquay players looking bereft of any ideas and Hampton barely having to raise their game. It really was that bad a game. On 50 minutes, a free kick sees Nabi fire at the keeper who handles with ease. On 60 minutes, the best move of the game finds Keating race down the left-wing and launch a lovely cross that finds Williams who can only head against the defender, best chance for an equaliser goes begging. Another Keating run sees an angled drive hitting the post on 60 minutes.
Substitution for Torquay sees the luckless and out of form Williams leave the field replaced by Andre Wright. Asa Hall takes over the captaincy.
Just past the 80 minute mark, a ripple of “we want Owers out” floats across the ground, with some of the family and Bristow’s stand joining in. Fans frustration understandable at a quite abysmal performance. Hampton then win a corner. The ball swings over and an unmarked Dickson for Hampton heads passed Bass. The boos are now ringing out with a further chorus demanding the head of Owers. Chief set piece taker Ryan Dickson is replaced by Bobson Bawling and the 90 minutes are up, Liam Davis is announced as MOTM which must have been Hobson’s choice for today’s sponsors. There really has not been a redeeming performance to speak of. The 4th official then flashes up 7 minutes added time which quite honestly, if we had been 0-0 you could not see a goal coming. Keating has another good shot that trickles across the goal with no player able to get a foot to. The full time whistle goes, the boos and disgruntled comments are abound. Professional players versus part-time footballers. Hampton & Richmond Borough looked the more professional team.
The strongly worded phone call to the Torquay United admin team over the mysterious disappearing season ticket seat name somehow pales into a faded yellow and blue haze of insignificance.
Bass – 6 – 2 goals aside, had very little to do. distribution could have been better.
Wynter – 4 – Poor forward play. vulnerable defensively.
Essuman – 4 – Vulnerable defensively.
Cameron – 5 – Unremarkable.
Davis – 6 – Offered more than any other player going forward. Final ball could have been better.
Nabi – 5 – Disappointing.
Hall – 5 – Struggled to control midfield. Careless.
Dickson – 5 – Had a lot of the set piece play, didn’t offer a great deal.
Banton – 4 – Anonymous. hardly contributed to the game. Subbed.
Williams – 4 – His poor form continues. subbed.
Reid – 6 – Best of the forwards, plenty of effort and running.
Ruairi Keating – 6 – A huge improvement and showed much more quality.
Andre Wright 3 – Andre hardly got a pass on arrival so difficult to judge.
Bobson Bawling n/a
Man of the Match: Jamie Reid
Match sponsors gave it to Liam Davis. Jamie Reid though edges it for me, he didn’t stop running and brought more to the game than any other player. But it was a tough choice as it was such an awful team performance.
Good to see Kevin Nicholson and his lad on Bristow’s, personable and friendly as always and a bright point on a sunny day watching a rubbish game of football.
Usual Gary Owers, a lot of hoofing from goal kicks, very little wide play, congested midfield and no playmaker to create attacking moves or find those through balls to the front players. High balls are lost on Brett Williams, Banton was anonymous and only Jamie Reid offered running and space. The simple stuff made to look very hard indeed.
Unremarkable but took their 2nd goal well, 1st goal was a comedy of errors between Williams and Nabi. They offered very little to making the game entertaining but really didn’t need to raise their game and their keeper was largely untroubled.
Scott Jackson marshalled the game pretty well, much like Hampton players, wasn’t in any hurry to keep the game moving especially in the 2nd half when there was a lot of slowing down play and clumsy tackling. He did okay.
The 2nd goal knocked all hope out of salvaging anything from the game. It was a poorly defended corner kick and a totally unmarked Hampton player scored a goal that left the team, the ground and the manager deflated. Fans started filtering out of Plainmoor understandably – the game was up.
Player Spotlight: Alex Bass
Much has been said of this keeper, his quality and ability. Very little opportunity to see his skills as there was very little he needed to do bar picking the ball out of the net twice. I think his general distribution could have been better, use of throws were minimal but all in all looks competent.
The hoped for and now rather optimistic new season game plan of being the strongest club in this division and taking advantage of our squad’s experience, quality and professional status and taking games to the clubs involved is now looking like a fading distant dream. The Owers claim of last season’s Christmas cheer “We’re not rubbish anymore” was a false dawn then, and it’s a distinct false dawn now. Today we looked rubbish.
View from Bristow’s:
What an absolute shambles all around the park. What’s the latin for “Acceptance of abject failure?” – perhaps we can get it on the shirts for next season. Owers changes to 4-3-3, but what doesn’t change is the total incompetence of the performance, as the team play like a bunch of strangers who look around helplessly hoping for some guidance. Credit to Hampton, they are well-drilled and press us as a team and get their rewards – no doubt their team and 50 odd away fans deserved to take the 3 points home. However surely any manager could coax better from our full-time squad than Owers? His tenure should be up, but will the stay away owner and GM make that decision for the good of Torquay United – I doubt it. A thoroughly depressing afternoon on Bristow’s as you can imagine! – Dominic