Matty Hayward – @MattyHaywood96
On a damp, unreliable pitch, Torquay brushed aside an unimpressive Welling side without performing particularly well. Two cultured first half finishes from Andrews and Janneh were backed up by a Niate tap in after the break, and The Wings’ penalty conversion ended up being a mere consolation.
It is absolutely fair to say that the pitch dictated this game. The bounce was uneven, the run of the ball was inconsistent, and every player struggled with their control as a result. Ultimately, the victory for the Yellows came down to defensive superiority and clinical (enough) finishing. Neither team created a great deal of chances, although I’m sure Gary Johnson will be having a word with Reidy who will be disappointed not to have notched in current form.
Both of Torquay’s first half goals were high quality. The first came from Andrews who stroked the ball into the corner from just outside the box: a perfect start. Then, 15 minutes later, United won the ball on the halfway line; Reid fed Janneh a lovely pass and the young Gambian struck the ball early with a delightful finish to the ‘keeper’s left. The Gulls’ third was less attractive. It did, however, take a great bit of skill for Janneh to create a shooting opportunity. Said shot was parried into the path of Koue Niate who tapped home from close range.
Welling came back near the end and won a dubious penalty after what the referee perceived as a foul from MacDonald. The spot kick was buried with ease, but the Wings could flap all they wanted: they simply weren’t good enough to truly threaten the evidently better Yellows.
MacDonald 8 – Deemed to have fouled for the pen, though it didn’t look like it to me. Had one other slight scare as his clearance struck the head of Welling’s number 9 but was otherwise very composed and impressive as usual.
Wynter 6 – Barely noticed him, probably a good thing.
Koue Niate 7 – Ditto, really. Got his goal. Didn’t feel entirely convincing but good enough, and any mistake was swept up by his centre back partner.
Cameron 9 – Commanding, controlling, classy. MOTM. See below.
Davis 7 – Same old same old. Hard to tell whether he was really good going forward or very lucky. A couple of times he broke away with the ball but it seemed like the pitch played a huge part. Nonetheless, nothing to complain about.
Keating 7 – The position doesn’t suit him, but he played alright. See below.
Lemonheigh-Evans 7 – The Lemon™ will probably be disappointed with his display today. Played well, but struggled with the conditions. He’ll have better days.
Andrews 8 – A beautiful goal and passed the ball well. Got booked and was rightly taken off after Welling’s goal. Likewise, the pitch didn’t suit his style of play.
Kalala 7 – Not sure he’s quite as good as people think he is. That said, he was decent today. Good with the ball at his feet, final ball lacking.
Reid 7 – The Park Lane Prince held the ball up well, especially in the second half. Did well for Janneh’s goal. Had a decent chance in each half, though, and I imagine he’ll be ruing those misses.
Janneh 8 – A decent performance and a well taken goal. He, too, will have better days but he played well. Got the sponsor’s MOTM, for the goal I assume.
Hall 7 – Did exactly what was needed. Secured the midfield which began to look open late on and used his body and experience excellently. Pleased he’s back.
Dickson N/A – Played about ten minutes. Barely touched the ball.
Sendles-White – Ditto, but he played about 5 minutes.
Man of the Match: Kyle Cameron
Superb in the air, composed on the ball and strong in the tackle. Say and tweet what you want about Gary Owers – and I absolutely will – but Kyle Cameron is proving to be a superb signing. I lost count of the number of times he covered for Niate after slipping or being out of position. Welling’s forward line looked sharp but never really made a mark on the Yellows, mostly due to Cameron’s imperious performance. He was the best player on the pitch today and it’s performances like that which prove he is growing into the captain’s role. I’d like to apologise for ever comparing him to Sean McGinty: he’s so much better than that.
It’s hard to single anyone else out as nobody was especially impressive, Cameron aside. Saikou Janneh put in a very good shift and his goal was a thing of beauty. An out-of-form striker would have kept running with that ball to find an easier finish, but he struck from the edge of the area with great aplomb. Shaun MacDonald also coped well in tricky conditions. It seems that Johnson wants to rotate his goalies on a game by game basis. That’s fine. I trust him. But I think Macca is the superior goalkeeper.
4-4-2 again. MacDonald for Bass the only change from Tuesday. The Lemonheigh-Evans/Andrews midfield pairing certainly leaves us quite open at times, but their creativity and hard work probably makes up for that. Asa Hall will definitely be required at times this season.
If they’re the second best team in this league, we’ll win it with ease. I can see how they’re up near the top: they’ve got some tricky attacking players, an enormous number 9 in Danny Mills (hasn’t he retired? Wasn’t he a full back? Etc.) and a pair of massive midfield brutes. However, they simply weren’t as consistently good on the ball as us and didn’t threaten our goal enough to beat us. I’m not sure they’re a better team than Dulwich Hamlet, mind.
Got the big decision wrong in my book. Mills beat Niate in the box then knocked the ball well past and over MacDonald. Some say the ‘keeper touched the ball: I’m not sure. Either way, Mills only went down after the ball had gone out of play. Seemed an odd decision.
Other than that, it was a difficult game to referee. The conditions meant that tackles would be mistimed and players would slip. Although slightly inconsistent with his punishment (how neither of Welling’s central midfielders escaped a card I’ll never know), he dealt with it well.
Player Spotlight: Ruairi Keating
I’ve had many an argument about our young heartthrob. I’m a big fan of his. Despite what he says/has been told to say, he isn’t a winger and it doesn’t suit him. When Opi Edwards returns to fitness, it’s hard to see the Irishman getting a game out there. However, the Westlife-sceptic works extremely hard and I think he’d have been hugely effective from the bench today as our front-two tired. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that he’ll be the best striker on a bench in this division. I love Ruairi Keating and Ruairi Keating loves me.
I’m pretty sure this is only the second Verdict I’ve written where we’ve won. If I’m honest, it’s easier and more fun to write when we lose.
That said, this is another good result for Johnson’s Men and caps off an excellent seven days. We ain’t won nowt yet and we ought not to get too excited, but it’s flipping fun to be top of the league and comfortably beating teams without playing to our best. There’s definitely a pun about Wings and Gulls to be made but I can’t put it together, knock yourselves out.
Gary Johnson’s unbeaten run in the league continues. The oft behatted Cockney has earned his place in my current favourite Yellows song (a spin on Wham’s Last Christmas) and will feel his team are in fine shape to enter the Christmas period. First, though, a trip to Boreham Wood will act as a real test of Yellow mettle.
View from Bristow’s
The scenes of a smiling Gary Johnson serenading all sides of the Plainmoor Yellow Army sum up our current mood; jubilant! Jake Andrews goal was sublime, quickly adjusting his body and lethally finding the corner to give us a lead we never looked like losing. Saikou’s was maybe even better, scampering into space and taking a shot so early Welling’s goalkeeper could not get anywhere near it! Two sweet moments of quality that belied the pretty dreadful conditions. Those are the moments we’ve lacked with any regularly in recent seasons, moments of pure beauty and individual class that have us jumping for joy in BB. Gary Johnson has got us believing again in our club and in truth the NLS is ours for the taking. Things are rarely straightforward at TUFC and I won’t be taking anything for granted with a squad lacking some depth and a number of players on loan, but unlike last Xmas we are (on the pitch at least) on the right track. Dom