Matty Hayward – @MattyHayward96
For the second time in a week, Yeovil outclassed Torquay United today. Despite being a man down for at least an hour, the Glovers showed more intelligence, fight, talent and energy than the Gulls who begin the 2020s with a limp performance. A well-taken early goal and a late sucker-punch sealed the deal: but in truth there was no way we were ever beating this vastly superior side.
On the 10 minute mark, the visitors gave Torquay something to cheer. Dagnall, who scored from the bench on Boxing Day, appeared to stamp on Covolan after the Brazilian made a delightful double save. After conferring with his assistant, the referee gave Dagnall his marching orders. This could have been an opportunity for the Gulls to waltz to victory. It ended up just being a buffer to limit the embarrassment.
Yeovil were as good with ten men as they were with eleven. A sliced clearance from Niate floated up into the air and back down again without a Yellow shirt getting anywhere near it. Courtney Duffus punished our defensive hesitance with a sublime finish from a tight angle. The Boxing Day hat-trick man had showed us how it’s done once again.
The game drifted on, with half chances for Keating, Whitfield and Reid all coming to nothing and a huge opportunity for Asa being spurned. Yeovil remained the dominant side. Particularly in the second half, the Glovers were absolutely content to put seven men behind the ball and force Torquay to shoot from range while Albi Skendi and Courtney Duffus stayed forward and looked dangerous on the break. Yeovil remained stronger and battled harder than Torquay in every tackle.
With ten minutes to go, just as United were beginning to build something approaching momentum, they threw away their numerical advantage. First, Niate gets himself in the referee’s book for having a tussle with a Yeovil defender before a deep free kick came in. Hand to the neck. Would have been soft but a possible red in itself. Within minutes, the Frenchman scythes down Rhys Murphy to prevent a counter attack. The most obvious pair of bookings you’ll see, and the most brainless.
This didn’t make a huge difference. A nice bit of play from the Lemon created a half chance for Whits which was directed straight at the ‘keeper, then Lloyd James decided to turn up and test Nelson who was forced into a decent save down to his left. Predictably, the desperate 2-4-3 formation – somewhat reminiscent of tactics employed in the early 20th Century – could not hold firm to a Yeovil counter attack. It was well-executed, and ex-Gull Rhys Murphy slotted home a delightful ball from Skendi.
That was that. Another defeat to a better team.
Lucas Covolan 7 – Made some decent saves and kept us in the game at times. Barely put a foot wrong, certainly not at fault for the goals. Mild amount of applaudable shithousery in staying down after the stamp to secure the red card (although he had every right to milk what – I’m told – was a clear foul).
Joe Lewis 4 – Played out of position and wasn’t horrific, but also wasn’t good enough. Consistently bullied.
Jean-Yves Koue Niate 2 – The most commanding and physically dominant of our back four, but it was his sliced kick which opened the opportunity for the first goal, and a display of utter stupidity to get himself sent off in the second half. Gave away loads and loads of silly fouls too.
Robbie Cundy 3 – Not good enough, again. Weak as piss.
Kyle Cameron 4 – Another poor defensive display. More on him below.
Ben Whitfield 6 – Not a lot came off for him today but, again, a real trier and created a couple of decent opportunities. Way too good for us.
Asa Hall 3 – I’m one of his biggest fans but he was shoddy today. On Saturday he played a dominant captain’s role in a midfield that ran the game. Today he was much more Ben Harding than Chris Hargreaves. Recent injuries and age showed a lot I’m afraid to say. Also missed a great chance.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans 5 – Always showed for the ball and tried hard to pull the strings but almost all of his attempted cutting-edge passes were misplaced. Sometimes played the glory ball when the easy ball made more sense, sometimes played the easy ball when a dangerous pass was possible. Just not his day.
Aaron Nemane 5 – Pretty anonymous. Not short of trying, just didn’t affect the game.
Ruairi Keating 5 – No less than you’d expect from him. Ran a lot, battled in the air a lot more than our defenders did. Very little service.
Jamie Reid 5 – Also wasn’t his day. Didn’t look all that fit, lacked sharpness and dithered a little at times. Again though, didn’t have an abundance of chances and wasn’t at fault for the defeat.
Jake Andrews 4 – Just didn’t really do much. Set pieces generally weak. Could’ve done with some of his creativity from the bench today.
Lloyd James 4 – I mean. Seriously? One comically poor pass straight to Aaron Downes into the dug-out (about thirty yards from the intended target) was counterbalanced by a pretty good effort at goal in stoppage time which was well-saved. He ain’t very good though.
Jared Lewington N/A – He’s lucky to not get a rating, because his only contribution was to get booked and the rating wouldn’t have been pretty.
Man of the Match:
It’s always a farce when the home team is utterly outplayed but the MOTM award still goes to a home player. Especially when that home player had a shocker. So I’m giving my award to Albi Skendi. Yeovil’s number 18 played at the top of midfield and was brilliantly dominant. Won every flick on, shit-housed when he needed to, and generally put in a strong professional performance. As Darren Sarll said after the game, our defence looked “petrified” of the Albanian. Did brilliantly for their second goal. Also, their song for him is sensational.
Well. Same team as the Woking win. When you’ve got no fit left backs and no fit right backs, it’s always going to be a struggle. We hugely missed Wynts and Davis’, um, basic footballing ability. Bench looked weak from the offset and it proved to be so. Move to the back three was slightly better, utilising Whits’ energy in a right wing-back role.
Yeovil are way better than us. They have what you need to win a league. A solid back four, a tidy holding midfielder with energy and physicality around him. At least two sharp, bullish, clinical attackers. They’re strong, busy, experienced and exceptionally organised. We were fools, frankly, to think that our squad could ever match up to one like theirs, because we have one good striker and one decent winger.
I didn’t see the Dagnall stamp but I’m told it was the right decision. The ref was probably a tad card-happy overall but both of Niate’s bookings were more than deserved. CLE could have had a first-half penalty, but a generally decent game.
Player Spotlight: Kyle Cameron
After the game, I spoke to my cousin who drove up from Plymouth to watch the Gulls today. She’d be the first to admit she’s no football expert. But she did have this to say about the “Torquay number 4” (Kyle Cameron): “When he gets the ball, he should try and pass it to one of his mates in yellow. Every time he got the ball I went ‘oh god not again”. Absolutely cutting analysis from Laura there. And she’s spot on. He may have been out of position, but he’s a professional footballer who needs to be better at passing the ball (and choosing which pass to make and when). Not only was our backline defensively weak, they wasted the ball on numerous occasions. Tune into my next verdict for another ‘Cousin Corner’.
I’ve tried to be reasonable. I think today was a combination of a poor defensive display from the Yellows and an excellently disciplined performance from Yeovil. The Glovers are really good and we ain’t. I don’t think it’s much more complicated than that. We now must keep our fingers crossed that players like Davis, Little and Wynter are back fit soon because we missed them today. But we took more fans to Yeovil than they brought to us and that – as they say – is the real quiz.
Dagenham & Redbridge (A) – 4th January 2020, 3pm Kick Off