Andy Charles – @capitalgull
It just keeps getting better and better. This is my third verdict for Torquay Talk, starting out with the disappointing 1-0 defeat at Oxford City and sandwiched with the 2-0 win over Hungerford in Gary Johnson’s first game in charge.
And now this…
Saturday’s 3-0 win at Wealdstone was one of the most comfortable I can remember in recent seasons. A great support from the South West, combined with dozens of Capital Gulls, a few Southend fans who eschewed £150 train tickets to Sunderland and my old friend Rob Kiggen from the Netherlands.
They were treated to a display full of confidence, one that grew steadily after 25 minutes of fairly turgid stuff to kick things off. On 34 minutes, a Saikou Janneh volley was clearly handballed by a home defender, but Jamie Reid missed from the penalty spot and Wealdstone keeper Jonathan North was up quickly to block the follow-up as well.
Kyle Cameron and at least one team-mate failed to get on the end of a cross with the goal gaping soon after but the key first goal came seconds before half-time, starting from a Wealdstone corner cleared quickly by Shaun MacDonald to Opi Edwards – a marauding run, a one-two with Janneh and a fine strike from the winger made it 1-0.
Wealdstone needed a quick start to the second half but failed to get it, with George Essuman heading home a free-kick from Connor Lemonheigh-Evans two minutes after the break – not a defender near the big Torquay centre-half.
Confidence was growing, passing was becoming more and more Hollywood, and the only complaint from then on was some of the tiki-taka stuff near the opposition box which cost Torquay a few chances of clear shots on goal.
Wealdstone had their moments, but their final ball – especially from the flanks – was dreadful and MacDonald had just a couple of saves to make, one with his feet and another where a better lob might just have seen him out of place and beaten.
But the game was done and dusted eight minutes from time when United’s centre halves cleared, for about the 100th time, and Wealdstone found themselves with one defender back against four (GJ says, I thought there were six!) Torquay forwards. The beneficiary was Reid with a calm finish into the bottom corner.
Still time for a Brett Williams sitter to be missed, but smiles were the order of the day on the Torquay terrace and among the players out on the park who were worthy of the three points and the rise up to fifth in the table.
Shaun MacDonald – 7. Calm, composed when needed. We’ve got two very good goalkeepers!
Jean-Yves Koue Niate – 7.5. Couple of dodgy moments but rescued by MacDonald in particular.
George Essuman – 9. Excellent display, great in the air and got a deserved goal.
Kyle Cameron – 9. Barely anything got past him all afternoon.
Liam Davis – 7. Fairly quiet, but did nothing much wrong.
Opi Edwards – 8. Talent oozes from every pore of this kid – we are lucky to have him.
Ryan Dickson – 7. Nice to see him back. Got tired but offers something a little different in midfield.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans – 8. Another one we are lucky to have – great touch and vision.
Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala – 6. First look at him and obviously talented but was too easy to knock off the ball. GJ threatened to take him off after 20 minutes and told him to buck up his ideas (or some such!!).
Jamie Reid – 7.9. I’m taking points off for the penalty miss…because I can!
Saikou Janneh – 8. Thank you Bristol City again. He and Edwards have a great understanding.
Ruairi (or Ruaiaiairiri if you are Wealdstone’s PA announcer) Keating 6 – Battled hard as ever.
Samir Nabi 6.5. Only had a few minutes but helped set up third goal and another boost to squad.
Brett Williams 5.9 – Taking points off for the missed sitter. Come on Brett, time to punish an opponent!
Man of the Match: Kyle Cameron
I know we won 3-0 but the nil is just as important as the goals and Cameron was an absolute rock, as well as acting as captain in the absence of the injured Asa Hall. I wasn’t convinced at Oxford, but the last two games have shown me this is a defender we should be able to rely on for many seasons if we can keep hold of him. Great in the air, good talker, if he’d managed to tap home a goal it would have been the complete performance.
It’s hard not to be impressed by all these talented youngsters from Bristol City, and Edwards, Janneh and Lemonheigh-Evans were all in decent form, but it was nice to see George Essuman play so well on the right side of the back-three. He’s possibly been the least impressive of the new centre-backs so far, but this really was a bright performance…and chipping in with a goal was an added bonus.
Back to the pseudo 3-5-2, with Davis and Edwards as the de facto wing-backs. It can be a little bit lop-sided as Opi gets forward a lot more than Liam, but it clearly works. Lemonheigh-Evans and Dickson usually the two deeper midfielders with Kalala having more of an offensive roving role, which quite often meant him being out on the left-wing while Davis stayed further back to offer defensive cover.
Wealdstone have some tidy players but none of them really shone. Basic 4-4-2 from them but they were second best over just about the entire park. Bradley Bubb threatened once or twice, as did Fumnaya Shomotun, but their delivery from out wide was poor – meat and drink to our back-three. Nice to be back at Grosvenor Vale, even if it was disappointing for us not to be allowed access to their clubhouse – must have cost them a fair few quid.
Philip Staynings was not the best. Right decision for the Torquay penalty (of course) but he made some strange calls on fouls and his linesmen missed a good few deflections as well, giving throw-ins the wrong way. Edwards was booked for an accumulation of fouls, most of which weren’t fouls, and Kalala seemed a little nonplussed after being talked to early – maybe that affected his performance.
Player Spotlight: Ryan Dickson
Ryan Dickson was one of the headline signings made by Gary Owers, but hasn’t had much of a chance to show off his talent and add his experience to the squad so far because of injury. With Asa Hall absent, he came straight back into the side and, after a bit of early rust, settled into a key holding role in midfield. He’s so tidy on the ball and would surely still be playing at a much higher level if he hadn’t lost a yard of pace. Having him and Samir Nabi back in the squad is going to make for some really tough selection calls for Gary Johnson in the coming weeks.
Best experience I’ve had watching Torquay since the game when Maidenhead failed to turn up more than 10 minutes before kick-off. Good performances all the way through the team and Gary Johnson is rapidly becoming one of my favourite Torquay United managers. I’m still scratching my head as to how we landed him, but (shock horror!) thank you Clarke Osborne for sorting that deal out. It could well be the season-defining moment.
Bring it on Billericay (and Weston-super-Mare and Woking!)