Luke Hunter – @lukehunter8
We’re Torquay United by name only at the minute. Make no mistake, this is as divided as a football club can be.
Gloucester City, temporarily squatting at Evesham United’s Jubilee Stadium, represented my first trip to a National League South fixture and it may take a little acclimatisation to get used to seeing us play in such surroundings. Not to flaunt a ‘big club’ ego, I regularly watch National League North and am well aware of the challenge this tier poses but to see a club, that only a little while ago, I watched win at Fratton Park, now drawing a blank at an event which best resembled a village fete – with the circus to go with it – was surreal.
The match itself was a nothing afair almost entirely distracted by off the field antics and I expect those antics will dominate the post-match analysis from the few sources that continue to report on us.
It was a strange opening 45 minutes, neither team really hit any rhythm and a pitch as slow as I’ve ever seen sucked all the energy out of the few attempts to keep the ball on the deck. Torquay, as usual, resorted to a punt up field, whilst Gloucester didn’t offer much better. Jamie Reid was lively, Ruairi Keating worked hard despite some constant harassing from the TUFC bench whilst Bobson Bawling grew into the game down the flank. There was a couple of tidy saves at either end, with a sweet Jamie Reid volley our best chance – well saved by the Gloucester number one. It was very much a game of equals – neither being particularly good or bad.
A similar story unfolded in the second half. Gary Owers bemused me in his post-match comments claiming we “dominated” the game which was not aligned to my reading of it. We edged possession but we created so few chances, I’m pretty certain we didn’t actually manage a shot on goal in the second half. Gloucester on the other hand were very, very dangerous on the counter attack and can consider themselves unlucky not to have nicked it. Perhaps most concerning for me was that in a tight game, on the ball, they actually boasted better individual quality. The man of the match left-back – Noah Smerdon (17, former England schoolboy captain), and the electric number seven dribbled through our limp midfield on more than one occasion with the former forcing two good saves out of Bass. As with the first, time escaped us and yet again we fired a blank.
As mentioned and as reported, the game was constantly interrupted by some crazy events off the field. This particular observation is aimed at the disrespect of some of the Torquay fans rather than the inadequacy of Gloucester City but it was clear that the home team was ill equipped to handle what unfolded today. I’ll save the “pyro” debate for another day but there comes a point where you need to look around, recognise we’re playing Gloucester City in front of 700 people – drawing, no less – and the only opposing team representative “taking you on” is a little old man with a bib titled “safety officer” – that says more than I need to. And as for Coffee-Cup-Gate (A individual tossed his beverage over GO as he left the field of play; for Gary to peruse and scream “Get him out, get him out”) – man alive – I’m no Gary Owers supporter (at all) but why do the owners not receive this level of scrutiny? They are, after all, the one’s who have created this whirlwind of uncertainty.
Alex Bass 8 – A talent. Commanding and confident.
Asa Hall 6 – Started quiet but grew into the game; clever on the ball and picked passes out well.
George Essuman 6 – Dealt with the long-balls all afternoon; assured.
Kyle Cameron 6 – As above; reliable and did what he needed to do – all you can ask.
Bobson Bawling 6 – Looked a little out of his depth in the first half; grew into the game and actually looked our most likely source of a goal by the final ten minutes – potential.
Chris Regis 4 – Struggled to get into the game; very little impact.
Samir Nabi 4 – Literally forgot he played – subbed at half-time.
Ryan Dickson 5 – Creative through the middle; loves a long-throw – all of which came to nothing.
Liam Davis 7 – Better than us, better than this level. Needs to perfect his crossing.
Ruairi Keating 6 – Worked hard and cut a frustrated figure – the long ball doesn’t really work for Ruairi, in my opinion.
Jamie Reid 6 – As above, worked his socks off and our brightest spark going forward – 3 troubling shots, but unfortunately not the goal he so desperately needs at the moment.
Ben Wynter 5 – Not a game changing substitution but dropped into the back nicely to free Hall up – which from an attacking perspective was a good move.
Brett Williams 3 – Played in midfield for some bizarre reason.
Andre Wright 3 – No impact; kept losing the ball – doesn’t look match fit.
Man of the Match: Alex Bass – we’re a bad keeper away from being a much worse side.
Honourable Mentions: Jamie Reid
Our biggest threat today whether the critics like it or not. To be completely fair, on a day where the fan-base painted themselves… poorly, there was a much more noticeable support for Reidy and he responded with a strong performance – surprise, surprise.
I’m starting to think Owers just plucks his formations out of thin air. 3-5-2 I think, but it’s anybody’s guess at this point. It was definitely a back three and the half time substitution to bring Hall into the midfield was necessary. The introduction of Williams was baffling not because he wasn’t needed but because he sat so deep! It was like he was playing off Keating and Reid – he barely runs when he’s up top, let alone in midfield.
Brace yourself – I think individually, Gloucester City had more talent than Torquay United yesterday. They certainly beat us for pace; I really rated their left back who shut down pretty much everything we could offer down the right; his man of the match shout was fair. Ultimately; two very similar teams who look neither bad enough to go down, or good enough to go up.
Difficult circumstances off the field but managed it as you would expect. A few bizarre decisions; but as good as you can hope for at this level – on the most part, let the game run.
The aforementioned Gloucester City left back ran from the half way line to just inside our box before unleashing a pile driver of an effort that was top-bin bound. Bass acrobatically dove and sent it out for a corner; cracking save. It was late on and would definitely have won it for City.
Player Spotlight: Brett Williams
You cannot change Brett Williams – stop trying. Give him service TO HIS FEET in and around the box – it’s that simple. He’s not a target man, he’s not a play-maker, he’s not a grafter, he’s not a deep lying striker, he’s certainly not a deep-sitting midfielder; he’s a finisher.
We’re very far away from a promotion challenge. I maintained at the start of the season we wouldn’t walk this division and that mentality has well and truly been drilled out of the supporters now. A few around me mentioned that this is now our lowest league position in just short of 100 years (I actually thought, ever – at least in this incarnation of TUFC, happy – or not – to be corrected on that) – it really feels that way as well. Everything about yesterday felt wrong – there’s something seriously not right and the vacuum of hate that the ownership’s festering has created is spreading quicker with every bad result now.
TorquayTalk on Tour!
Great to catch-up with editor Dom plus contributors Karl and Rich before and during the game – I was feeling rather delicate post-party and as you can imagine, they were sympathetic to my struggle.