On CLE “What a player. Definitely our most gifted footballer. When he fancies it, he really can dictate a football match”
We asked TT contributor Matty Hayward to grade every player who appeared for TUFC during 2018-19, below is his end of season assessments:
Alex Bass – B
Matty – “Seems a good keeper from what we saw, which wasn’t much”.
George Burton – U
“Bless him. Carrying drinks around some of the dreariest parts of the South-East without making an appearance. We wish him well.
Shaun MacDonald – A-
“Shaun’s been very good, particularly for someone who seemed to be second choice when he was originally signed. Aside from the rare mistake – and the even rarer error leading to a goal – Macca has been a crucial part of us achieving a record-equalling defensive performance this season. His shot-stopping is decent, distribution excellent and I think he’s a great character to have around the club. I hope he’s given a proper chance next season”.
Kyle Cameron – A-
Matty – “I don’t think our back four has been as good as the record-equalling stat suggests. However, Kyle Cameron has definitely been a consistently decent member of the side. He’s absolutely no finished product but gets an A- for leading the side excellently in Asa’s absence and being ever-present aside from a couple of silly suspensions. He’s strong, commanding and good enough to dominate centre forwards on his day. I really like his attitude and, what’s more, it transpires he’s a cricket fan”.
Liam Davis – B+
“Liam’s a really good player for National League South Level, I doubt there are many better left-backs around. Excellent going forward and no mug at the back. He gets a plus for starting every game of the season, though the lack of rest may have hampered him towards the end of the campaign when he has looked tired at times: I’d like some support (you might call it “competition”) for him next season”.
George Essuman – C
“Many will have forgotten about ‘Our George’. I’m not sure what JSW offers that he doesn’t, but I trust Gary’s decision to let him go”.
Jean-Yves Koue Niate – B-
“I feel sorry for Jean-Yves. I think he’s brilliant at his job in principle (stopping, bullying, heading, kicking) but the modern game requires more from a centre-back that I don’t really think he’s got. He’s clumsy at times, he’s not a ball player at all and I think he’ll be lucky to feature much next season. That said, he really is excellent in the air and I think winning headers from goal-kicks and long balls is something that often goes unnoticed: people focus far more on defenders’ mistakes than what they actually do right. Comme ci comme ça”.
Jamie Sendles-White – C+
“There’s little to choose between JSW and JYKN. Jamie is certainly better on the ball but lacks the defensive toughness and solidity that Monsieur Koue Niate offers. Gets a bit of credit for filling in in midfield and right-back at times this season, though it was clear it didn’t suit him. Clearly suffered a bit with injury. Clearly a good lad. Clearly played an important role when called upon but I never felt our defence was Jamie Sendles-Watertight when he was present. He leaves Plainmoor with best wishes from me, but I won’t shed a tear as I think there are better defenders out there”.
Jacob Sokolik – F
“Crikey. Remember him? When Owers gave him a contract I was astounded, dare I say I was right?
Ben Wynter – B
“Definitely our most improved player. If I had to give him a grade since the turn of the year it’d be a lot higher, but I’ve given him a B because under Owers he underperformed even more than most. Boring realism aside, the boy is a very able right-back. A number of times this season we’ve been under pressure from a counter attack and he’s been a valiant last man coming away with the ball. He also scored a goal that will stick in the memory for a very long time. Good lad is Wynts”.
Jakes Andrews – B+
Matty – “12 goals and 14 assists from 32 midfield starts tells its own story really. I’d be interested to find out where he thinks his best position is because he’s been deployed mostly on the wing this season, has also featured as a central midfielder but his stats suggest that he might be better suited to a number ten role. Our go-to man with set-pieces, Jake has certainly contributed plenty to the cause this season and it’d be a shame to see him playing elsewhere in August.
Jason Banton – F
“Keep calm and please, nobody, ever talk about Banton again. What a waste of money, talent, space, initial excitement. Note to Truro: get rid”.
Bobson Bawling – E
“Along with Banton also pretty terrible. Wish him well because his attitude seemed decent but he’s not fit to lace Kalvin Kalala’s boots”.
Ryan Dickson – B-
“A weird season for Dicko. When we first signed him I thought he looked absolutely top drawer. A long injury curtailed a lot of his season but towards the end of the campaign he became a demon impact sub. He’s definitely got great feet and is good in the air for his height, whether he’s ready/fit enough for the step (back) up to the National League remains to be seen. If he’s not good enough, I’d like us to sign someone else with a long throw because watching Dicko wind one up is such fun”.
Opi Edwards – B
“I think Opi is just fantastic to watch. He’s not got an A because he’s not played enough, but my word he’s an exciting young talent. He’s been fortunate to play in a league where there are so many cloggers playing at full-back but I think the step up and the improvement in the pitches will mean he’d actually cause more problems next season if he re-signed for us. End product is imperfect, but as quick and tricky wingers go, he’s one of the best we’ve had in a while”.
Asa Hall – A
“A for Ace. Every good midfield needs a big, strong tackling, battling, preferably hirsute leader. He’s also much better on the ball than he gets credit for, his clipped balls into the channels for Reidy and Janneh have been crucial to us stretching teams. If a Torquay fan with a minor optical impairment went into a coma ten years ago and then woke up a couple of months ago, they’d have looked at our midfield, seen a Tarzan-resembling, classy, tough, bullish box-to-box captain and been convinced that Chris Hargreaves was still playing. I don’t make this comparison lightly, I think he is absolutely on a par with Greavsie. When he whacks one past [insert Perennial Conference Play-Off Team Here, e.g. Wrexham] at Wembley next May, you’ll remember this comparison”.
Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala – B+
“Feels a tad harsh, that. I’ve given him a B+ because I’m not sure how many games he’s won us. If we were talking about ability or how much fun he is to watch then it’d be an easy A, but he’s too inconsistent and often his bits of trickery don’t necessarily end up in creating a chance. He’s started the same amount of games as both Andrews and Janneh but has scored fewer goals and made fewer assists than both. To be clear, he’s a bloody excellent footballer and I think he’ll wreak havoc with defences next season. I think his potential is far greater than what he’s shown since signing and I really hope he turns it on more regularly in 19-20”.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans – A-
“What a player. Definitely our most gifted footballer. When he fancies it, he really can dictate a football match. The best example I can give was the Boreham Wood FA Trophy game where we were down to ten men (later nine) in extra-time, everyone on the pitch was drenched and shattered and Connor just kept running and nearly won the game for us on his own. For me, our absolute priority to re-sign next season. He’s a bit inconsistent but so very talented”.
Samir Nabi – E
“Probably not quite as bad as Regis but he was pretty bloody rubbish. Halesowen Town are welcome to him”.
Chris Regis – F
“Can you believe he started 8 (EIGHT) games for us? Stinking attitude and just nowhere near good enough for us: the ugly underbelly of #OwersRecruitment (not the last in this list)”.
Frank Vincent – B+
“An inspired signing from Gary Johnson. Didn’t disrupt the dressing room, very much had to wait his turn to get on the pitch, but a very talented footballer whose main contribution was probably playing a lovely ball down the line to Reidy which, in turn, got Gez sent off. Definitely have him back”.
Saikou Janneh – A
Matty – “Shearer and Sutton, Henry and Bergkamp, Messi and Suarez, Cole and Beardsley, Hurst and Hunt, Reid and Janneh. Good teams have good strike partnerships, and it’s fair to say that Reidy has hugely benefitted from his link-up with the Saikou. As have we, the fans. Our Gambian King is a wonderful centre forward. When he signed, he said he “just wanted to score goals” and, my goodness, he’s done plenty of that. He’s missed some sitters this season (as has Reid, admittedly), but the young loanee is an excellent finisher and we’ll be extremely fortunate to hold on to him”.
Ruairi Keating – B
“I’ve only not given him higher because I’ve been accused of giving him too much credit in the past. Very simply, Ruairi took the most important game of the season (certainly at the time, I’d argue it remains the most important game of the season) by the scruff of the neck and made two goals from nothing. I am, of course, talking about the Chelmsford match which came right in the middle of Ronan’s nephew’s fantastic run of form. He’s adapted excellently to a new role on the right-wing and, while he’s probably not our most gifted player, his attitude more than makes up for that and he has undoubtedly provided some vital moments for the Gulls this season – in fact, I think four of his six goals have been decisive in winning matches and his 12 assists (including that stunning ball for Reidy at Woking) deserve a lot of credit too”.
Olaf Koszela – C
“I’m so desperate to like Olaf and I really do hope he proves me wrong but – and whisper this quietly – I’m not sure he’s all that good. He’s very young and he’s got plenty of time to improve, I really hope he does so. In fairness to the lad, his header against Chippenham was well-taken and his shot against St Albans was saved into the path of Kalvin Kalala who tapped home. There’s definitely more to come from him, I hope it’s a lot lot more”.
Jamie Reid – A*
“I’ve written an article just about this Shagger (https://torquaytalk.com/2019/01/31/tt-blog-the-road-to-reidemption-by-matty-hayward-dom-roman/ ) which goes into far more depth than the remit for this piece allows, so probably read that if you want to know what I think about him. But seriously, if anyone tells you that we should sell him, or that he’s not ready for the step up, or that he’s only ever scored goals in a rubbish league (I’ve heard all of these things on the terraces), stop talking to them. Firstly, the only time he’s ever played a season in his actual position within a good team, no player in the top six tiers of English football has scored more than him (and his is a 42-game season). Secondly, his all-round play is superb: 14 assists and the fact we’ve not needed to sign a target man is testament to his ability to both hold the ball up and create chances for his teammates. Thirdly, how did slating Jamie Reid go last time we tried it? I don’t recall it working too well. Get behind the lad – the lad who has been integral to your football club winning its first league title ever – and you might just see him score a few more goals next season”.
Brett Williams – D
“Oh, Brett. Brett Williams really should be way too good for the NLS. He really wasn’t. Johnson right to cast him aside”.
Andre Wright – F
“Andre NotQuite. Such a horrific waste of talent. He was excellent when Nicho signed him on loan. Unfortunately, Gary Owers signed a fatter, slower version of Andre Wright who joins the list of Owers signings with limited ability and even less interest”.
*Photos courtesy of Dennis Kallmer
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