“I’d have to say it was one of the best performances from a TUFC centre back at Plainmoor in years”
The Ed blogs about the latest from the world of Torquay United
Dom Roman – @DomRoman
“So Boreham (h) didn’t equal Boring (h) in the end”. In truth it was a very entertaining afternoon on Saturday and the admittance fee was well worth paying. It was a game where ‘The Wood’ started on the front foot, before two bolts out of the blue from Jake and Jamie swung proceedings in our favour. After that there was only one winner…well just about, as individual errors and a little uncertainty crept. Why do things easy? It’s not the Torquay United way and even grand-master Gary Johnson has trouble altering that.
Last week in my blog I asked for the set piece defending to be tidied up, this being such an important facet of the game at any level and something that’s been costing us (for longer than I care to remember!). The response was generally impressive. Zonal marking was utilised by Gary and Boreham’s free kicks and corners caused us minimal difficulties. Using zonal rather than man-marking is often frowned upon by pundits, but when you have a less physical (and shorter) team such as ours it can be preferable. Rather than risk losing unfavourable one-on-one match ups, defenders take up organised positions and the centre backs are asked to attack every cross that comes in. Cundy and Cameron did that well, so it’s a thumbs up from me on that count.
Now I’ve mentioned Robbie Cundy I’ll happily move onto someone GJ called ‘The Collosus’ at the weekend. I’m trying not to get carried away with the young lad’s brilliant 90 minutes, but it’s so difficult! I’d have to say it was one of the best performances from a TUFC centre back at Plainmoor in years (there you go I did it!). Right from the off Robbie bossed the tempo in defence, winning header after header, clearing the ball from danger and just dominating Tshimanga – a player who has been scoring for fun this season, but eventually subbed early after making no impression at all. Hugely impressive stuff. I think we can ignore the own goal at the end – he was just doing his job and cutting out the cross like any competent defender. Sam Druiff mentioned on the podcast about this being his break-out game for TUFC and I think he’s right.
Alongside him Kyle Cameron also did well. Ex-Gull Tyrone Marsh is not an easy player to keep quiet and but for a few sniffs, the stand-in skipper was solid. As Kyle would I’m sure admit, he’s had problems this season adapting to the progression in league and the different challenges that have arrived – but with Robbie alongside him I think the Geordie will improve as the season goes on. Overall the defence actually looked more comfortable with Shaun Mac behind them, with the familiarity of last season’s success providing assurance. Unfortunately Shaun blotted his copybook with the calamitous moment for Boreham’s penalty, meaning the TUFC goalkeeper position has more questions than answers! Will either Lucas or Shaun be between the sticks for United at the end of the season…at the moment I wouldn’t bet on it.
Enough about the defence, let’s talk attack. Jake Andrews scored…again. Now I enjoyed seeing Jake in action last season, but I had my own question marks in the summer. Where would the ex-City youngster fit into this team? Would his temperament be up to the task? How motivated will he be after the drop down in divisions? Well he is answering those questions week after week (after week). Where do you play Jake? Anywhere around the midfield is the answer, he is just that good. The goal looked so easy on Saturday, trick a defender and place the ball in the right corner – no bother at all! Jake has the confidence and swagger to try anything on the football pitch, playing with freedom and a smile on his face. An outgoing character who loves showcasing his talent and keeping us on the edge of our seats. Love it.
NO STOPPING JR19
Meanwhile I’m running out of superlatives for Jamie Reid. Defensively Boreham were rattled but content enough, 20 yards+ out and their striker is moving sideways onto his weaker foot. “No cause for alarm, we’ll be alright here, you watch”. Watch is all anyone could do in the end, watch and marvel at the ball rippling the top corner of the net. Even allowing for the paunch carried by the keeper, he had absolutely no chance of stopping that. The technique and power generated on the shot, whilst under duress from the opposition, takes some beating and this man is now a league player in waiting. Meanwhile the ‘goal of the season’ competition just keeps getting more congested..and it’s only October!
For the third Frank Vincent was spectacular. The young lad’s end-product has already been debated this season, but Frank has the smarts and ability to be a big player for United. To get the best out of him I think we need him in and around the opposing team’s penalty area, playing in-between the lines and knitting together United passing movements, bringing others into the action and be-witching centre backs. Defensively he struggles due to his lack of size and strength, so let people like Buse, Asa or Armani do those bits and let him concentrate on impacting our attack.
BETTER WITHOUT KALALA?
One man who didn’t make an impact on Saturday due to injury was Kalvin Kalala. Was he missed? Well…no he wasn’t and the winger is even an enigma when he’s not in the team! As a unit, we looked more focussed and toiled harder without the Frenchman. A couple of weeks ago Fylde found space behind KLK when they played us, exploiting his lack of work-rate and commitment to get back and help the full back. But on the flipside, Kalvin can give us x-factor and prise open any defence with a moment of magic, so must always been considered. Barrow will be a tough (but winnable) match on Saturday – if KLK is fit, GJ has decisions to make and may opt to keep the same energetic XI in place. Keeping a healthy balance between defence and attack is always a tight-rope for any manager.
The cup draw came and went in usual Torquay United style! I was initially disappointed (why do I ever expect better?), but since then have come to accept the draw as semi-decent (I’m not going any further than that!). It’s a tie we should win against a mid-table NLS outfit, even if we have to overcome the change-up to artificial grass. Johnson’s team were masters at winning away game after away game last season against lesser NLS teams, and I’m confident a place in the second round will be secured. We don’t have a good historic record against Maidstone, so it’s time to put that right on 9th November (no danger of this one being re-arranged for TV coverage!). Check out the YouTube footage below from 1990, when the lads celebrated Tommy Tynan’s birthday and then got taken to the cleaners by Stones. It is strangely nostalgic and compelling viewing!
Barrow, Wrexham and Halifax await before that, with two fixtures in four days upcoming to test out the Plainmoor pitch. Nothing illustrates the unpredictable nature of this season’s National League than those three teams. Wrexham finished fourth in 18-19 and would surely push for promotion in 2020, to finally make it back to the holy grail of League Two football? Wrong. Barrow and Halifax are two teams who will do well to stay out of relegation trouble and climb to the high reaches of mid-table? Wrong! Barrow are a team who fear no-one at the moment and will come down to TUFC hopeful of victory, meaning we’ll have to roll our sleeves up again, whilst Wrexham must surely improve at some stage? Let’s not get complacent and make it next Tuesday night.
This week saw a new series start on the TT site, with TT Groundhopping No.1 by Clive Hayward published on Tuesday afternoon. Clive has always been enjoyable company on Twitter and I was hopeful he’d start the item off with a bang…in the end it was bloody brilliant! For this item I want fans to tell the story of their day, talking us through all the things that make a TUFC away match worthwhile. No.1 has set a high standard, but the style and content is down to the writer – and I think this will be an excellent addition to the TT portfolio. If you have an away day in your sights and would like to turn your hand to this, please get in touch. And finally, the TT Podcast keeps purring and reached Episode 15 (see below) this week. The lads are maintaining a high standard to be proud of…the only trouble is I can’t get back on it! Tune into the pod and enjoy their usual mix of opinions and banter.
*If you would like a TT mug, as modelled below, get in touch using the Contact TT option on the website or through Twitter/Facebook, and I’ll come back to you asap.
torquaytalk.com – @TORQUAYTALK
Away Sponsor of Kyle Cameron