“I predicted 18 for Jamie this season, at the moment he might reach that by January”
The Ed blogs about the latest from the world of Torquay United
Dom Roman – @DomRoman
“See where we are after 10 games” is a commonly used expression in the football world, and here we are 10 games in and how are we looking? We are looking up I’d say. Inconsistent, but learning valuable lessons by the week and well-placed in eighth position to push on for the rest of the season.
Saturday’s score-line probably flattered the Gulls a little, so I’ll delve into the cons first in this blog (‘ending on a high note’ is a cliché I’d be a fool to ignore, especially with this United team). With another altered line-up from Gary Johnson due to injuries, the team struggled for an hour to impose themselves on a spirited Harrogate XI. There were more concentration struggles at the back and a lot of looking around from the men in yellow – looking around mainly to see who would step up and inspire them to victory.
Leaking goals at the back has been a standard thread in our season. The Harrogate penalty appeared to be soft, but Robbie Cundy switched off briefly and allowed the away team’s attacker to get wrong side of him. After that rightly or wrongly the ref was quick to point to the spot. Keep switched on and the goal doesn’t happen, as there’s no decision to make, something I’m sure Aaron Downes will be instilling into the back four this week. The second was also avoidable with some erring from Covolan (who got nervous after the 2nd goal) and his protectors. Jon Stead may be knocking on (for a footballer), but he can still gobble those chances up.
At that point it wasn’t impossible to see United still winning the game, but I wouldn’t have bet on it! Stead’s red card then occurred, it was a nonsense – we can all surely agree on that and we’ve also been on the wrong side of those sort of decisions over the years. Just a real lack of understanding and common sense from the ref, on a decision that wasn’t even there to be made! It was a moment where the game changed, and the Gulls could seize the initiative of attacking 10 men. And boy did they do that well!
So we have arrived at the pros stage of this blog, well sort of! Kalvin Kalala made his entrance at the half time break and made an instant impact. After some very poor performances, he needed to remind everybody of what he can do – he certainly did that. He replaced Manny Duku who unfortunately looked like a lost deer in the first half. It wasn’t for want of trying, but the striker looked on a totally different wavelength to his team mates and his lack of authority or impact on the ball was just painful to watch. After a better effort at Woking we had hoped this could be his time to shine, instead the defence found him far to easy to mark and the partnership with Reidy was totally redundant. Two guys playing too far apart and unable to read each others game. Sad times for Manny.
Back to Kalala and his influence, alongside the intelligent and constantly dangerous Frank Vincent, set the scene for the comeback. Kalvin’s goal was a thing of beauty, hit so sweetly the goalkeeper could not get anywhere near it. A moment of hush descended on Plainmoor as we took time to realise the ball was nestling in the net, meanwhile KLK celebrated nonchalantly like it was from 10 yards out. What a moment! Since Gary Johnson’s appointment the standard of goals has been outstanding and just when you are writing off the goal of the season as a no-contest, another net-buster crops up.
Kalvin caused Harrogate all sorts of problems and with Ben Wynter bursting up the wing in support – the right flank became 18-19 all over again. As mentioned above, I was very impressed with Frank Vincent and the impact he made. Always on the move and always looking for space to prosper, the young midfielder caused Harrogate problems all game. With Connor now out for a little while, I’d imagine Frank is nailed on to start every match and make a place in the line-up his own. Isn’t it wonderful to have player of that quality to bring in.
Of course, one thing that didn’t change from previous weeks was Jamie Reid and his propensity to find goals. The striker now stands on top of the goal-scoring charts and other marksmen may struggle to dislodge him. Playing up top on his own doesn’t bother JR19 one iota, and with his brilliant fitness he is a 90 minute danger to the opposition. We’ve seen all different types of goals this season from Reidy and that’s what it takes as you reach higher divisions. He’ll have enjoyed the second especially, a left foot hit that finished the competitive nature of the fixture. He had options to pass but unlike Duku and Keating who have taken that option this season, the main man did what he does best and took responsibility with his seventh goal of 19-20. I predicted 18 for Jamie this season, at the moment he might reach that by January!
In the end it was another job done. It was far from perfect and mirrored some other performances this season (fast start, avoidable goals conceded, Reidy scoring!), but with improvement in our locker I think we can be very positive for the match-ups to come. Cundy looked classy at the back, not short of pace and confident on the ball. Assuming GJ sticks with the Cam/Cundy partnership, then this could tighten up our defence considerably in the coming weeks. With Armani and Opi due to return sooner rather than later, the strength of the squad also moves in the right direction. Oh and if Kalala can transplant his form in the second half to upcoming games, then our attack will trouble anyone.
Looking at the league table also makes me optimistic. Above us sit Woking, Halifax, Bromley, Maidenhead, Stockport, Yeovil and Dover. We have played four of those teams and only lost one, and that 2-0 defeat to Maidenhead was unfortunate considering how much we dominated the 90 minutes. Otherwise, we had the upper hand for much of clashes against Bromley and Woking. If these are the top teams in the National League then we have nothing to fear. Solihull looked nailed on to be pushing at the top, but guess what we are ahead of them – whilst the likes of Wrexham and Fylde sit 18th and 20th. Such is the unpredictable nature of this league anything could happen. All we need is more consistency (easier said than done I grant you) and play-off football next spring is definitely possible.
FINAL WORD: I had the pleasure of chatting to Dom Mee, the new TUFC Media and Supporter Liaison Co-Ordinator (catchy title) on Saturday in the Gulls Nest. Dom has been around the club for a while and loves TUFC, he’s also a very approachable chap and passionately wants to improve the engagement between the club and the Yellow Army. It’s a big job! Communications have been poor for a number of years and it might take a while for major improvement to be made, but I think Dom will have a bloody good go at it. I have already asked for more injury news from the club, players can be out for weeks and the official site reports nothing – the best thing to do is just ask the lads themselves and that can’t be right! And finally (smooth link) a big GET WELL SOON to midfield maestro Connor Lemonheigh-Evans who is due to have an operation very soon.
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