Dom Roman – @DomRoman
It’s oh so quiet in the TUFC world this week, is that the sound of contentment..well maybe! A winning team is what we really really want isn’t it and two 4-1 wins on the trot (whilst playing stupendous football) equals ‘Yellows Nirvana’ (smells like teen spirit). Does the footballing excellence brought to us by Gary Johnson paper over the cracks of an owner who still doesn’t come to games, has not made good on initial promises (fans forum, local board members) and would rather talk about matters ‘new stadium’ related than Reidy, Janneh etc. – I’ll let you decide! He may have employed the right man to run our football team, but my trust in Clarke Osbourne and his handling of our football club going forward remains low.
But let’s go back to Saturday’s victory over Concord Rangers. It wasn’t perfect..there I said it! There were some defensive cracks, with Rangers missing a great opportunity with a header just before Saikou scored his second. With Ruairi and KLK on the wings and the forward thinking Andrews/CLE axis in midfield, you are always going to give the opposition possibilities. However, ‘possibilities’ were all that transpired for Rangers who just could not cope with our galvanised XI. I just loved the way we attacked from all angles, with the overlap always available and players demanding possession in small spaces. The squad trust each other and weren’t afraid to express themselves, there’s no fear in these young lads and we’re reaping the dividends.
The speed of attack is such an important part of Gary Johnson’s philosophy (currently making Brett Williams a redundant substitute). It was telling that when Concord had a corner, every United man was called back to defend (Ruairi made 2 or 3 excellent defensive headers). Then when the threat had been repelled, the commitment and energy of the boys to sprint up the other end to threaten the Rangers goal was brilliant. The guys around us at Plainmoor debated why we brought everyone back, but the top Premiership teams often do the same – roping more opposition players to their penalty area and then outrunning them back when possession is retrieved. Use the ball a bit more wisely in that second half and we’d have had 5 or 6 to boost that goal difference, greedy I know but no harm in wanting more!
Players often have a game that defines their career at United from being a good squad player to being a crowd favourite, and Saikou Janneh (see below) had that sort of game. What better away to break down an opposing team at Plainmoor than a rehearsed free kick routine – well they’ve rarely worked before, but we’ve rarely had players like CLE, Andrews and Janneh who sing so accurately from the same hymn sheet. The goalkeeper should have done better (it went in the ‘my nan would have held onto that’ book for me!) but Saikou wouldn’t be denied, and he took the next two chances expertly. No hesitation, no worries, no missing. Is the teenager the youngest player to ever score a hat-trick for TUFC? Probably, but the sight of the youngster clutching the match ball and serenading the Popside was sweet as we scuttled slowly (and merrily) towards the Bristow’s exit. What a talent.
Talking about talent, that fourth United goal from Jamie Reid was an absolute belter. In August when JR was caught up in the Owers-blues, (along with everyone else) he would not have even attempted that shot. Gary Johnson has told him you can be the man and that encouragement can create moments like that. In his previous seasons at the club, Jamie has looked like a busy team player who has often forgone his own glory for another player. Well no more, he is now a game-changer, someone who provides the big moments and wins us 3 points. With a more positive attitude to ‘what can happen’, rather than ‘what won’t happen’ the goals are flowing and his partnership with Janneh should continue to prosper – barring injuries/discipline problems.
Was it the finest ever goal scored by a United player? It’s a nice debate to have, but the best goal I’ve ever seen by a TUFC man was Luke Young’s masterpiece V Wrexham in 2014-15. The really top goals for me are those that have A) The highest difficulty level and B) Are scored at crucial times. I’ve never viewed another goal like Luke’s by a United player, the skill of a full volley in the top corner from 25 yards+ to win the match is not repeated very often – even in the big leagues. Meanwhile, I’ve seen some 30 yard rockets go in over the years – that’s not to take anything away from Reidy, I doubt there were many better strikes in any league last weekend. Reidy and potential are two words that have often been used by the Yellow Army, this potential is now a reality and I hope his rejuvenation is just the start.
We move on to Basingstoke Town on Saturday and the chance of a cup run in the FA Trophy. How much do we want to progress? I always want United to win games, but I’d also prefer victories in the league if I had to choose. I’d expect Johnson to shuffle the pack and still expect to triumph. With the FA Cup out of the way (grrr!), there will be no fixture backlog unless the weather turns nasty and with players such as Dickson, Essuman, Nabi and Asa arriving back on the scene we should have the squad to handle extra games. It doesn’t seem like the fixture has caught the imagination of the Yellow Army, just about no-one has been talking about it on Twitter anyway!
TT have still got it covered, and our standard opposition interview will be wagging its tail again this week. Town supporter Matt Warmington has kindly answered our Qs, so watch out for his responses on the website sometime tomorrow. We also have a man at the ground, with Jonathan Jones making his TT debut. Myself and Rich were chatting to Jonathan at Gloucester, well we needed some banter in that awful awful game! Jonathan attends numerous away matches and will be tweeting alerts/pics as the afternoon progresses – let’s all hope it’s not a repeat of that 2015 FA Cup loss, not Kevin Nicholson’s finest hour (I’ll forgive him though!).
FINAL WORD – Speaking of making debuts, London-Gull (and new driver) Sam Jones has now taken ownership of the ‘Tweets of the Week’ feature and started with aplomb on Tuesday. Sam has been busy helping me out over the past year or so, and has been a life saver with Luke Hunter still travelling the globe with United scarf in hand (see below). In other news the FanZone went down very well again at the weekend, with the usual mixture of outdoor activities and Asa and George taking on all-comers at table football and FIFA. This entertainment for the youngsters cannot be underestimated and will surely help enhance their loyalty to Torquay United going forward. Superb work from the Torquay United Community Sports Trust and TUST, keep it going guys.