Sam Druiff – @samdruiff
An exciting, nail-biting, eventful, painful, outrageous, glorious, spectacular season culminated in a somewhat disappointing final game in front of a bumper crowd at Plainmoor. Hungerford, on the brink of relegation really took the game to Gary Johnson’s champions; it was very apparent that they were the team who still had something still to play for. A 5,351 record-breaking crowd, gold flags in hand watched on as Torquay started brightly. Player of the year Jamie Reid came close on several occasions early on, forcing some smart saves from the visitors’ ‘keeper and dragging a fantastic chance just wide of the post. It was a relatively uneventful first half; Torquay the better team tested Hungerford aplenty, but entered the break at 0-0 with nothing major to report.
The second half was another fairly non-event. Hungerford’s players, obviously aware of the score in Truro’s game, made it hard for United to break through. Opi Edwards and Olaf Koszela came on for Frank Vincent and Ryan Dickson, but both struggled to really make an impact on the game. United forced a few corners, but much like the rest of the season, Torquay couldn’t make any of them count. Right at the death, as Truro made it 2-2 in their game, Hungerford’s number 14 danced through the Yellow’s defence to roll the ball past MacDonald to win the game for the visitors. It was what they deserved, and I wish them luck in their important final game!
MacDonald – 6 – Quiet afternoon really. Could he have done better with the goal? Maybe.
Wynter – 7.5 – MOTM, see below.
Cameron – 6.5 – Steady afternoon for Kyle, nothing especially spectacular to report, seemed to have to look after Niate a bit.
Niate – 5 – Not Jean’s best afternoon in a United shirt. A few careless mistakes could have cost us more goals on another day. I’m putting it down to fatigue, Jean has been a rock, and when we don’t need to win, players take their eyes off the ball.
Davis – 6 – Steady afternoon for Liam, not at his best, but like Niate, I think it’s fatigue as much as anything.
Kalala – 7 – A beautiful player to watch. I love the way he can glide past players as if they aren’t there. On his day he’s one of our most important players.
Vincent – 7 – Not as good as his previous two games but Frank has a bright future in football. As Matt said last week, the way he follows his passes is such an impressive if simple attribute. I would like him back next season.
Dickson – 7 – OK performance from Ryan, he was involved in a lot of the creativity in the first half, gutted he didn’t get a goal really as he deserves one for his efforts this season.
Andrews – 7 – Not quite at his best today Andrews, did the simple stuff well but his end product wasn’t quite up to his usual high standards.
Lemonheigh-Evans – 7 – Worked so hard in an unusual striking position but much like Jake Andrews, he didn’t quite get the end product. I sometimes wonder if Connor is afraid to shoot as he often seems reluctant to pull the trigger.
Reid – 7 – Did everything right apart from score today! Thoroughly deserves his POTY award.
Koszela – 5 – Not much of a chance for Olaf to make an impact today, had one decent chance but poor control let him down.
Edwards – 5 – Much the same as Olaf, just didn’t really get a chance to get going.
Man of the Match: Ben Wynter
Ben Wynter gets my vote today, also my Young Player of the Season. Ben didn’t stop working, defensively sound and offered a lot going forward as well. In the latter stages of the game, Ben drove forward more linking up well with Opi and Connor in midfield. His crossing has come on leaps and bounds since he first joined. It’s easy to forget just how young Ben is, and if there was a most improved player award – he’d win it. When GJ was clearing out the players he didn’t see fit, I thought he was next out, but he’s proved me wrong. One of my favourite players, an exciting prospect.
Ruairi Keating for starting the Ben Gerring chant with the fans. Legend.
It’s a hard task for Gary Johnson during the last games of the season, the team are promoted as champions, and he’s without Asa Hall, Ruairi Keating, and Saiko Janneh. With the squad as thin as it could be, it’s a relatively make-shift 11 with Connor Lemonheigh-Evans upfront and the untested midfield partnership of Vincent and Dickson. All in all an ok line-up but I’m glad nothing rested on the result today!
Hungerford played like a team fighting for survival. They made it so tough for Torquay to get through especially in the second half. They were good value for the win and will probably stay up now. I do wish them the best; it’s not easy to beat the champions in front of a bumper crowd!
The referee managed a full 90 this time, and most wished he hadn’t. He seemed to get booed a lot throughout the game, personally, I can’t really think why. He seemed to get the important decisions correct, maybe missing the odd handball shout. However, I think he officiated the game well.
Player Spotlight: Jamie Reid
It only seems fair to focus on Jamie Reid, our Player of the Season. Jamie wasn’t quite at his best today, perhaps missing his partner Janneh, but what a season it’s been for Jamie. In the summer I couldn’t believe we’d kept him, he seemed to have the wrong attitude and had suffered some poor seasons with us. Despite that, Gary Owers kept him on. A relatively slow start prompted more frustration from the fans. Gary Johnson then came in and gave the club a new lease of life. It was apparent that Jamie was going to be his main man, and what a great call. Reidy showed unbelievable character grabbed his Torquay career by the scruff of the neck. 28 league goals later, he has won the hearts of the Torquay faithful and dare I say it, written himself as a legendary figure at the club. Well done, Reidy. One of our own.
Not a fantastic game today, but what a season. To see my club become champions of the league is a glorious occasion. We owe so much to Gary Johnson, he has become a god-like figure at Torquay, and turned the club around. We’re on our way back, and I’m so excited to see what he does in the summer. It’s easy to forget, Johnson didn’t get a pre-season. Hopefully he’ll have decent funds to work with and be able to bring in some additions to push us up the National League table. However, whatever happens I just love the man to bits. Thank you, Gary.
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Photos courtesy of Dennis Kallmer