“A win on Saturday is certainly not guaranteed; time for a suitable response from the lads on the promotion trail”
The Ed blogs about the latest from the world of Torquay United
Dom Roman – @DomRoman
SWEET FA IN THE CUP
“What is it with Torquay United and the f##cking FA Cup?” is what I’ve mostly been saying since Saturday afternoon and that painfully poor display by the boys at Maidstone. After my optimistic and care-free blog from last week, my TUFC world was brought crashing down to earth with a grim bump. I’ve tried to move on since but the bruise has not healed quite yet!
If I’m not perched in Bristow’s Bench or out on an occasional away day, I’m usually out and about with the family on a Saturday afternoon – keeping a keen eye on United alerts on Twitter (to the frustration of my better half..). But this Saturday we were entrenched in lockdown mode at home due to wet weather and I decided to switch on the club’s official commentary. Boy was that a mistake, as the frustrating 90 minutes ticked over. The broadcast was decent mind you, a highlight being when the main commentators were cut out by mistake and we could suddenly hear Patrick chatting at the bar – no deep dark TUFC secrets divulged unfortunately!
Overall it was pretty much a day when the whole team didn’t perform, no scapegoats or excuses – just not good enough; passing woeful, no meaningful shots and a day to write off. We’ve had a few like that this season (Solihull, Notts County being notable) – most teams do to be fair and we bounced back emphatically after the Meadow Lane defeat, so I’m confident we can do the same again. Just a shame it would happen in the cup, where the potential financial bonuses on offer once again elude us. Not since Paul Buckle’s days have we been able to peak for FA Cup fixtures (Crawley the horrible exception). That team just loved the occasion and reached the fourth round twice, we haven’t replicated any of that form since.
Did we under-estimate Maidstone Utd? Maybe. Under John Still they were set up to ‘have a go’ and didn’t allow us any space to thrive on. We needed a higher gear and the hand-brake was stuck on. Was the team missing it’s strength in depth, with key players injured? Definitely. The likes of Buse and Vincent have done so well in recent weeks and have deserved the plaudits. But a change-up in the form of Andrews, Little, CLE or Hall could have made the difference, allowing GJ to rejig the formation and overcome the Stones in midfield. Instead he had two strikers on the bench, with only one called upon and called upon so late that it appeared to be a reluctant choice more than anything.
On the bright side (grasping at straws time) we can now concentrate on the league…oh and the FA Trophy! As someone wise mentioned on Twitter; if we end up winning promotion in 9 months time, then this cup disappointment will just be a mere footnote of disappointment in a tremendous season – until we get knocked out in the 1st round next year!! Meanwhile the Stones move on to face Blackpool, not a bad tie for them and one that could’ve been fun for the Yellow Army. However…what’s done is done!
Salt in the TUFC wounds last weekend was the injury to Liam Davis, who we all assume will be out for a little while. We’ve only had two proper full backs all season to this point, so GJ will have had his eye on replacements if required – which this week meant the entry of Ramarni Medford-Smith, who adds his name to double-barrelled TUFC hall of fame! Ramarni has been on the cusp of Reading first team action and I’m sure he’ll be desperate to make an impact down here. Just scanning down JME’s tweets gives an entertaining glimpse into this guy’s confidence (see below)! Another exciting youngster to add to the ‘Johnson Babes’ and I’ll look forward to seeing him play on Saturday. Liam Davis, with his all round ability, consistency and composure will be missed – but let’s get behind this young lad from the off.
A return to Plainmoor will be very welcome for the lads on Saturday I’d imagine, well for those that aren’t injured anyway. If Jake Andrews remains side-lined along with Hall, Little, CLE, Edwards and Davis (decent 6-a-side that), then the team for Sutton United pretty much picks itself. Mac/Cov (I don’t understand this rotation system) – Smith, Cundy, Cameron, Wynts – Kalala, Buse, Vincent, Whitfield – Janneh and Reid. Sutton are struggling big time and will travel down in hope rather than expectation of a result. However, scanning through their results and talking with a supporter this week (Q&A incoming on Friday) indicates that they aren’t playing terribly – mainly lacking goals and losing narrowly week after week. A win on Saturday is certainly not guaranteed; time for a suitable response from the lads on the promotion trail.
I think the main thing for us at the moment in the upcoming fixtures is to A) start on the front foot and B) preferably score the first goal and control the game. With our lack of squad resources, we’d rather not be chasing the match later on. Manny Duku’s morale must be very low at the moment; not even called upon in a losing battle against a NLS side, where the team had failed to trouble the opposition’s goalkeeper. He must be wondering where his future lies, and I must question why Olaf Kozsela isn’t on the bench instead. It’s also time for Kalvin Kalala to produce from the start for United. Sutton and Chorley are brilliant opportunities for him to cast off this nagging inconsistency and cement a place in the first XI.
FINAL WORD – The TorquayTalk Podcast is back for another enjoyable edition this week and can now legally drink as it reaches no.18 (who said it wouldn’t last?!). In a fun new feature the lads are asking for your Football Room 101 suggestions, and they will decide to accept them or not. Get involved if you have time and keep the boys talking. We had Twitter bubbling this week, by asking for your ‘worst TUFC away day’. The term ‘worst’ is much easier when you’re talking about the Gulls, there’s just so much to choose from with our history! Two stood out from the tweets. No.1 and an obvious but valid selection – Colchester (a) in 2005 when Leroy’s battlers were relegated…pain factor 10/10. Then a less obvious one from our more shall we say senior followers – Plymouth (a), Boxing Day 1969. A 6-0 loss away to Argyle over Xmas, ho ho horrible. Pain factor 10/10. And an honourable mention to Hinckley (a) 2004, as backed by Helen Chamberlain and Martin Gritton. – https://torquaytalk.com/2019/11/12/tufc-worst-away-days/
COYY on Saturday…back to business and hopefully back to winning ways, with a goal from comeback kid Saikou Janneh included (I’m greedy like that).
*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.