The TT Match Verdict: TUFC 0-0 Ebbsfleet Utd, 25th Jan 20

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Marcus Arscott – @MarcusArscott

Summary:

I haven’t written a match report this season, and I was quite looking forward to writing this one. Unfortunately, Torquay and Ebbsfleet managed to collectively produce the most boring game of the last calendar year.

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I’m sat here trying to recall some significant events of a game that finished less than an hour ago, but nothing’s coming to me. During the game, we saw only 1 or 2 shots on target, no clear chances and nothing for the crowd to shout about other than a few dodgy refereeing decisions. I’d love to write you a few paragraphs detailing the game’s events and to make it appear interesting but I’m simply not able to, sorry about that.

Player Ratings:

Lucas Covolan: 7 – Standard rating for a keeper that wasn’t required to do much keeping of the goal. Didn’t do anything wrong, but wasn’t given the opportunity to.
Jackson Longridge: 6.5 – I like the look of Jackson, he looks like a proper left back and was generally solid defensively and useful going forward. As with many of his teammates, a fairly average game for him.
Gary Warren: 8 – My MOTM – he is everything we were crying out for in a centre back and his presence has given a completely different impression of our back-line. A very welcome addition.
Robbie Cundy 6 – Did okay, but his clumsiness was, again, on display for all to see. He clearly benefits from playing next to a player like Warren and he may improve rapidly from doing that.
Joe Lewis 7- Joe has really been making the full back position his own of late and today was no exception. Like Longridge, he is defensively solid and his crossing is surprisingly good. I’ll whisper it quietly, but Wynter may struggle to get back in quickly if Joe keeps this form.
Ben Whitfield 6 – Ben Whitfield did what Ben Whitfield does. He chased every ball and put a lot of pressure on their defence but he often found himself too deep to link up properly with Reid.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans 5 – When on his game, he has the ability to be the best player on the pitch by a country mile. Unfortunately, when he’s not, he tends to go anonymous and is susceptible to letting the game pass him by. This was one of those games.
Asa Hall: 6.5 – I thought Asa had an average to good game today. He did his usual role and he did it well, without achieving anything spectacular.
Aaron Nemane: 6 – Again, much like Hall, he did okay without going above and beyond. He did lack creativity though and was subbed at half time.
Kalvin Kalala: 6.5 – Showed flashes of brilliance in beating his man but was lacking in other areas. Very little movement off the ball and his decision-making was questionable at times.
Jamie Reid: 7 – Game of two halves for Reidy, in the first he was easily the best player on the park with some amazing first touches but found himself isolated in the second. More on that in the Tactics section.
Subs:
Armani Little: 5 – His much anticipated return to action at Plainmoor was a disappointing one. I’m sure he’ll be wholly up and running soon but today he spent 45 minutes sending passes in to nowhere.
Jake Andrews: 6 – Brought some much needed creativity but failed to make much of a difference to the game.
Jared Lewington: N/A – Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I thought Reid could have done with a partner much earlier than the 85th minute. Had no time to make an impact.

Man of the Match:

As mentioned in the ratings, Gary is everything we’ve needed in a centre back all season. He was a rock today, barely anything got past him and he was continually barking instructions across the back line. If we could keep him for the rest of the season that’d be fantastic.

Tactics:

Unchanged squad from last week, we lined up as a fluid 4-5-1 and it caused us problems in the second half. Reid, for all his skills, is not a ‘lone striker’ kind of player and he found himself isolated up front, spending a lot of time getting wrestled by the two centre backs. Midfielders would often find themselves too deep to be effective in any counter attacking manoeuvres. Reid was crying out for a partner early on and we all expected GJ to bring Lewington and switch to a 4-4-2, unfortunately that change didn’t happen until the 85th minute. Perhaps with this new striker incoming we’re more likely to see a 4-4-2 against Barrow.

Opposition:

There’s a reason why Ebbsfleet are one point off the bottom, and there’s certainly a reason why they’ve managed to pick up three red cards in the last three games. They are a team that attempt to make up for their lack of quality and ability by using their strength and physical aggression to fight for every single ball. These kinds of teams (think Woking) want the opposition to play the same sort of game as them, so it turns into one big scrap with not much actual football being played, generally, if you keep it on the deck and play intelligently you can beat them quite comfortably. We didn’t do that and we found ourselves in a scrap as early as 10 minutes in, a scrap that we never managed to play ourselves out of.

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The Officials:

Lewis Smith had a bad time today, the kind of performance that epitomises everything that’s wrong with a lot of refs at this level – weak and inconsistent. Ebbsfleet worked out early on that if they go down and shout then Smith would likely give the foul, so that’s the tactic they went with for the rest of the game. There was a clear penalty on Andrews towards the end which he did not only not give, but he gave a free kick to Ebbsfleet! Mental.

Key Moment: 

Some bloke from the popside hit the crossbar twice at half time, fair play.

Conclusion:

To summarise, this was a complete non-event and will be forgotten about very soon. Barrow will be more open and willing to play football than Ebbsfleet were so next Saturday will certainly be interesting, especially if this fabled new striker arrives before then.

View from the Ed:

United’s poor run at home in the National League continues, Plainmoor is no fortress that is for sure. Where was the creativity and spark today? Where was the support for an isolated Jamie Reid? Those questions and more linger in the drizzly January air, and Gary Johnson will be scrambling around for answers before Barrow (a). Something is missing in our play, the cohesion from October and the belief that we can break open any defence has only reappeared sporadically at best in recent months. Passes going long and hopeful rather than short and assured; team-mates failing to anticipate what each other will do; there’s much to work to do out on the training pitch. If this is to be a season of mid-table mediocrity and building then so be it, but tell me we won’t sit through any more games as s##t as that. Dom 

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