Sam Jones – @samuellejones
As I awoke with a raging hangover from one too many ciders the night before, I was looking forward to my first away game since the defeat at Bath. It was also the closest game to me geographically, and about as far as I can go without throwing up from the previous night’s festivities. However, by full time I really wished that I’d stayed in bed crying myself to sleep, as the Gulls lost 2-0 to Welling in a truly horrible game. Not to mention possibly the worst refereeing performance I have ever seen.
The Gulls started on the front foot, and after some nice interplay between Lemonhaigh-Evans and Andrews, the ball was crossed in and met by Janneh 6 yards out. He should’ve done much better as his header went flying over the bar and into the main road behind the ground. That was about as good as it got for the away side in the first half, as the game descended into a truly scrappy affair. The best chance opening exchanges fell to Welling as Acheampong rose highest in the box and met the ball with a ferocious header. The home crowd had started celebrating, but our Geordie keeper pulled of a save the late, great Gordon Banks would’ve been proud of to keep the scores level.
The game changing moment came after 28 minutes as Welling were somehow not reduced to 10 men. The home keeper Wilks caught Andrews well above the ankle with ample studs showing, but only a yellow was shown. A certain red card for any other position, but not for the keeper apparently.
Niggly fouls and cards galore for the Gulls (and some diving by Welling that Tom Daley would’ve been proud of), meant that the half descended into madness and looked for all the world that it’d be scoreless at the break. However, just before half time, a long ball over the top caught out both Cameron and Sendles-White. Welling forward Barham was first to the ball, and lobbed it beautifully over MacDonald, who was in absolute no man’s land. He couldn’t decide whether to come for it or stay in goal and ended up doing neither. That was it for the half, and the boys went in 1-0 down.
I have no idea what Gary said to the boys at half time, but it obviously didn’t work. After Andrews sliced very wide when well placed, the Wings doubled their advantage after 50 minutes. Davis was robbed (fouled) on the left and Welling advanced at pace. A dangerous cross was put into the box, which was only half cleared. The ball landed at the feet of full back Ijaha on the edge of the box who hit a Pavard-esque strike into the far corner. Nothing MacDonald could’ve done about it and the home fans went wild.
Torquay dominated the rest of the match with Reidy missing a couple of decent chances and Kalala bringing some much-needed flair to a struggling Torquay attack, but still no way through. Cameron hit the post from our first corner after 70 minutes as it looked like the pressure was building, but then got himself sent off after he fell for Welling’s tricks and the ref bought yet another dive. The game ended not long after, and Gary Johnson’s Yellow Army lost only their second game in the last 15.
MacDonald – 6: Uneven game. Pulled of a worldie of a save to keep us level at 0-0 but was massively at fault for the first goal.
Wynter – 5: Poor when both going forward and defending. Will be having nightmares about their number 11 for weeks.
Cameron – 5: Couldn’t handle the front two and played into their hands by falling for their shithousery. Will miss the next game after a being sent off.
Sendles White – 4.5: Dreadful showing, yet again. No idea how he’s in the team ahead of Niate.
Davis – 5: Same as Wynter, but will be having nightmares about their number 7.
Keating – 5.5: Worked his socks off, but nothing came off. Better up top or coming on late to help close a game out.
CLE – 5.5: Silky and smooth as ever, but was wayward in his passing. Needed to be more decisive in the final third.
Hall – 6: Solid in midfield and showed some nice passing. Made a great goal saving tackle when moved into defence when down to 10 men.
Andrews – 5.5: Did nothing wrong, but didn’t have any end product. Lucky to still have two working legs after the challenge by the keeper.
Janneh – 4: Must have had too much Dolmio sauce again. Movement was non – existent and acted as a passenger for most of the game.
Reid – 6: Man of the Match for the Gulls. More on him below.
Niate – 6: We looked more assured when he came on and is a much better partner for Cameron than Sendles-White. Has to be back in the starting line-up.
Kalala – 5.5: Flashes of brilliance but looked rusty after injury layoff.
Vincent – 6: Very tidy on the ball in a brief cameo appearance. More on him later.
Man of the Match: Jamie Reid
Jamie Reid ran himself silly and was at the heart of everything good for the Gulls. Very tidy on the ball and showed some clever touches to keep the ball moving and try to force an opening. He is such a handful when confident and it’s easy to see why he’s the division’s top scorer. His hold up play is also under-rated as he constantly winning battles against much bigger defenders, on both the ground and in the air. Had a couple of decent chances that on another day he would’ve put away.
Shaun MacDonald was solid as ever today, pulling of a great save in the first half. He coped well with any crosses coming into the box but did mess up for the first when being caught in no man’s land. Not to blame for the defeat.
Asa Hall was his usual self in the middle of the park. Solid in the challenge and had a nice range of passing. The much-needed grit in midfield, which usually compliments the silkiness of Lemonhaigh-Evans and Andrews.
The Gulls stayed with the same team that put 4 past Hemel Hempstead on Tuesday. We started with a back four of Wynter, Cameron, JSW and Davis. In midfield, Andrews and Ruairi played wide of Hall and Lemonhaigh-Evans and Reid partnered Janneh up top. Torquay played into Welling’s hands as time and time again they hit the long ball up to the front two. This was gobbled up easily by the two absolute units at the heart of Welling’s defence. It was a performance reminiscent of Owersball as we looked bereft of ideas, as time and time again the move broke down after another long ball ran into the goalkeepers arms. When we played the ball on the ground, we looked much better, but a lack of end product meant that we struggled to find a way through. It was a very un-Gary Johnson like performance, that needs to be remedied against Dulwich Hamlet at home next weekend.
Welling are a horrible little team, but I see why they are so high up in the table. Apart from their two wingers and Barnham up front, who were all excellent, they’re a team made up of really big guys with no real ability so they have to resort to bullying tactics. They go down every time there’s contact and swarm the referee at every opportunity. They really reminded me of Stoke under Tony Pulis, but somehow more infuriating. Once they’d got in the referee’s ear, that is was it, the damage was done. Their game plan was to play the ball long and try to catch our two centre backs out. They got the ball wide when they could to their two very tricky wingers in Kiernan and McCallum. Barnham up front was really sneaky, and both of their goals were great finishes. I hope they don’t go up, as I’m really not convinced, they were playing football. If we’d been able to string passes together up front, we’d have walked right over them. But not today.
Ryan T Atkin put in the worst refereeing performance I’ve ever seen and had a genuine impact on the final result. Welling got in his ear in the first minute and that really affected him for the rest of the game. He bought all their pathetic dives, dished out yellow cards to Torquay players like an excitable colleague at Christmas and got most of the decisions wrong. Most crucially of all, he completely bottled it when choosing not to send off Welling’s keeper at 0-0. He looked completely out of his depth at this level, which is really saying something.
The key moment in today’s game was easy. About 28 minutes in, Welling’s keeper Wilks decided to go walkabout. He headed a long ball clear, beat Reidy easily and then lost control. Andrews picked it up and looked like for all the world he was going to score, but then Wilks went flying in. The Welling keeper had his studs up, about two feet off the ground and caught Jake above the ankle. What should’ve been a straight red, was only a yellow as the Welling players surrounded him. Any outfield player, that would’ve been a straight red and an early bath. Andrews was actually in tears after the challenge, and he is very lucky to have walked away from it without a nasty injury.
Player Spotlight: Frankie Vincent
Today was the first time I’d seen Bournemouth loanee Frankie Vincent play since signing on loan on deadline day. He came on at 2-0 down with the game a lost cause, but still showed some nice touches and some good passes. He looks similar to Lemonhaigh-Evans in physique and ability and could be a very good asset to have as the title race draws to a head.
Away Day Overview:
Welling is grim. So so grim. Really want us to go up so I never have to go there again. Due to a mudslide on the main trainline between London and Dartford, the trains weren’t running so it was a nightmare to get there and even worse to get back. Seems to be a running theme for non-league games, really testing dedication. The stadium is a proper tinpot non-league ground, with only two small covered stands, and terraces that seemed to be collapsing. I am also pretty sure the number of home and away fans were fairly equal. The burger I had was alright, and £8 for student entry was fine. The only highlight of the ground was a banner that they had up, saying “When the Wings go flying in”. Any club that believes that is an acceptable slogan doesn’t deserve anything.
What a shitshow of a game that was. It was horrible, scrappy, feisty, nasty and just grim. Another reason why we need to make sure we leave this league behind. Torquay were out thought and bullied today, but even with the full compliment of players, we did not play well enough. Both goals were avoidable, and we didn’t take our chances when they came our way. The referee didn’t help in the slightest and did affect the result by not sending off the Welling keeper (you can tell I’m very bitter about it). However, we seemed to let that affect us and fell right into Welling’s trap.
With Woking winning (and everyone’s favourite pantomime villain Gerring stoking the fire), the day was pretty bad. We’ve lost Cameron for the next game and some momentum in the title race. There is also a concern that we keep struggling in the big games and we’re becoming a bit of a flat track bully.
However, all hope is not lost. We responded brilliantly after the loss at Bath by putting seven past Oxford City, so we need to make sure we do the same next Saturday. We still have the best squad in the division, as well as the deadliest strike partnership meaning that we’ll still put away the smaller teams. We’ve got most of our big games out the way, with only Billericay on the 9th of March and then Woking on the 6th of April to come. Gary told us all to keep our chins up at full time, and that’s what we must do. Still a long way to go, and we can still do this. Onwards and (hopefully) upwards!
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