“For the imagination, goal threat and ability he brings to every game Kalala should be lauded”
Dom Roman – @DomRoman
If you’d have informed me back in August/September time TUFC would have just won 10 games on the bounce by 5th January, I would have responded with a ‘are you crazy’ look reserved for those people who defended Gary Owers merits as our manager (yes there were people…). But here we are riding the fun bus with Gary Johnson in charge, top of the table and I am loving every minute!
Saturday’s game wasn’t the cakewalk the end result makes it out to be. The first half was a slow toil in attack, with the occasional chance going begging and a committed Slough Town team pressing hard and making life difficult. The moment of madness from Ben Harris changed the complexion of the game and gave us the time and space to dictate play around their penalty area, plus score yet more splendid goals.
Jake Andrews showed his free kick expertise again with a perfectly directed strike in the corner. His form has been somewhat less sparkling since being moved to the wing, but that’s mainly due to the high standards the young man has already set himself – 11 assists and 6 goals is a not bad return is it! The free kick was the perfect repost to questions on his right to a first team place and all but sealed the 3 points.
Ben Wynter was first to ripple the net though. I’ve always asked for time and patience for this young lad to bloom and that pile driver gave him reward for his improved form. It’s been coming as Ben’s forays forward have become more frequent and we are now seeing a proper player in the making. We so often write players off after an unsteady start – inexperienced players like Ben should be encouraged and cheered on rather than jeered for every mistake and unfortunately he was caught up more than most in the toxicity surrounding Plainmoor during the horrible Owers regime.
Ben would’ve been my man of the match for opening his account for United, but another young gun who made the biggest impression on me was Kalvin Kalala. This guy is just dynamite at the moment! He makes the art of playing football look so simple at times. Surrounded by 2 or 3 players, Kalvin will produce a step over and a flick to escape their attention and in the blink of an eye he is off – moving down the pitch with effortless pace. He spent the first 20 minutes closer to my eye-line on Bristow’s and the ball was like a magnet to his feet – the Slough players just could not touch him.
His speed with the ball also gives us an amazing counter attacking option. So often in recent weeks we have sprang a pass out to him from defence, and before you know it the United wasps are scaring the opposition to death in their own half. We haven’t seen many players like this over the years! The triple-threat of KLK, Janneh and Reidy have their opposing numbers backtracking so fast they cannot cope. Unlike previous seasons we have pace and movement aplenty, this equals goals and good times.
Kalvin can still get better as a player and he’ll receive criticism sometimes for giving the ball away too easy and his decision-making in the final third. But this is a player unafraid to express himself and provide us with magic moments to get us off our seats. We should enjoy this attitude rather than bemoan the odd errors here or there – we’ve had the boring and functional in spades; players too worried about stepping on the Plainmoor pitch to do something exceptional with the ball. For the imagination, goal threat and ability he brings to every game Kalala should be lauded. That extended contract announced on Saturday was a no-brainer for Gary Johnson I’m sure – the future can be very bright with this boy on board.
Four games over the course of 11 days at Plainmoor is unheard of really, and the 2 week break that has followed is a welcome rest for the pitch which had reached breaking point, the players who will get a chance to recharge their batteries and also the Yellow Army! The attendances for those four games were tremendous and still getting well over 2k on 5th January, when money can be tight after Xmas (and three games have just gone) delighted me. We all wondered what sort of crowds Plainmoor would hold in the NLS – would the fans still want to come along for regional football? The answer with a Gary Johnson-invigorated Yellows team on the pitch is an emphatic YES. Do the Torbay community still care about their football team? YES.
Will Gary strengthen his pack over these couple of weeks? On BBC Spotlight last week it seemed not, as the gaffer explained how well the squad was getting on and that any new players could rock the boat. Understandable, especially considering the run we are on. However, the latest outgoing – George Essuman to Dulwich Hamlet announced yesterday, might demand a rethink. It’s a shame to see George go, he looked the part in early season but has rarely featured since then as the Niate/Cameron partnership prospered. Hopefully we’ll see the big man back at some point.
What do we need? I’d say another defender and an attacker. Who is the back-up for our defence now George has gone? Jamie Sendles-White that’s all. No full-backs apart from Ben Wynter and Liam Davis, unless you count Opi Edwards filling in when he finally returns. That can’t be right. Going forward we certainly don’t need to replace anybody in first XI, but another goal threat who can be thrown on in the second half would be nice. Brett Williams could have been that man, but the role of substitute didn’t suit him. You need to be ready to enter the action and make a difference, something which Ruairi did last Saturday.
We will most likely get more injuries and suspensions as the season wears on, guarding against this and making sure we have enough oomph in the squad could give us the edge. There is no guarantee we’ll run away with the league and this Woking team have a determination (and cup tie funds) that suggests they won’t go away easily. I desperately want us to win this division outright and it definitely looks like a two-horse race at the moment.
FINAL WORD: Truro City returned to their proper home Treyew Road this week for league action and with a larger White Tigers contingent cheering them on won 2-1 versus St Albans (Tyler Harvey scoring again). It’s a relief to see the end of the ground-share agreement; it was making our pitch difficult and could’ve cost us points going forward. It’ll be interesting to see how things develop with the club, though at least they appear to have a good man in charge in Leigh Robinson and I’d expect them to comfortably avoid relegation this year. We can move on without them muddying our thoughts and pitch, and look ahead to Bath City away Saturday week. Permission has been granted for me to travel to Twerton Park and tickets will be available at Plainmoor tomorrow. I reckon we could take 1500 that day. Belief is high and the Yellow Army don’t want to miss a moment, so make sure you secure a place in the away end for what should be cracking game. Bath are no mugs, but my bets are on 3 points returning home in Gary Johnson’s pocket as normal.