The TT Match Verdict – TUFC 1-0 FC Halifax Town, 22nd Feb 20

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Ryan Etches – @RyanEtches

Summary:

A hard-fought win for The Yellows in a must win game if we are to avoid being dragged into the relegation battle.

It looked to me as if we lined up with 5 at the back, 3 in the middle and finally a striker partnership, something we have lacked and struggled without. Ben Whitfield was given a right wing back role for the afternoon and carried himself well in the position. Ade Azeez came in for his 2nd debut for the club.

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Torquay started on the front foot for the first 10 minutes, putting pressure on the Halifax back-line from the off. The first half carried on in the same vein but without any real chances being carved out by either side, either Torquay with their dominance or even Halifax on the break.

Unfortunately Armani Little limped off around the 20 minute mark with what looked like at the time another hamstring issue. Fingers crossed for him that it was just precautionary. It has been a real shame we haven’t seen him as much this season. Jake Andrews came on in his place.

Half time and there wasn’t much to write home about. I was panicking that my 100% match report win record was under threat!

Halifax came flying out the traps in the second half and put us under pressure from the off. After a succession of corners Covolan had to be at his best to tip a goal-bound effort over the bar, it looked to me like the ball came off a Torquay defender.

The game settled into an equal playing field, both teams were trying to put themselves in the ascendency. Torquay were having most of their attacking joy from the set piece delivery of Jake Andrews. A series of inch perfect balls were putting Halifax under pressure from our big men from the back.

To the relief of Plainmoor on the 68th minute United finally made a delivery count. An amazing delivery from Andrews met the head of Asa Hall who drew a good save from the away keeper, the rebound was met by the head of Ade Azeez and he nodded it home. Cue pandemonium from the Yellow Army, you could feel the relief around the ground.

Reid had a good effort on goal around the 83rd minute, he managed to free himself from his marker and bend one towards the bottom corner. A good save from the Halifax stopper put it behind for another corner.

In typical “Torquay United trying to hold onto a win” fashion, the last 5 minutes and injury time were painful. If it wasn’t for the brilliance of the Yellows back-line on numerous occasions this match could’ve got away from us. Jackson Longridge made 2 last man challenges in the space of 2 seconds as Halifax started to turn the screw.

Ben Wynter made his long awaited return to action as a 92nd minute substitute as he replaced Ben Whitfield. You’d think he would just have a nice 3-4 minute run around, get some air in your lungs, clap the Popside and go back in? Nope. He was straight into the action, last minute of the game and Halifax’s player most likely to do anything Jack Redshaw, finds himself at the back post with the goal at his mercy. Ben Wynter travels through space and time to get the ball and blocks it from going in. Redshaw has a follow-up effort slammed against the bar and downwards, Plainmoor holds its breath. The ball comes back out and is duly cleared.

The full-time whistle is blown.

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Player Ratings:

Lucas Covolan 7 – If it wasn’t for a great save by Cov this could’ve been a very different game.

Robbie Cundy 7 – A solid display today, a great improvement on recent weeks.

Kyle Cameron 7 – Much like Cundy, he was good today. Showing signs of the old Cameron.

Joe Lewis 8 – How is Joe Lewis only 20? He is built like a bloke and plays like an experienced National League player. He didn’t get beat once today, always seemed to win and keep the ball after tackling players which keeps the game flowing.

Ben Whitfield 7 – A good display from Whits in an unfamiliar position. His attacking from this position was much-needed, maybe his defensive positioning was a bit off but the lad is a forward, you wouldn’t expect him to be in the right place all the time. He even won a header, all 5 feet 5 of him. Please stay next season.

Jackson Longridge 8 – The best game I have seen from Longridge since he’s been here. The double last-ditch tackle is as good as scoring a goal.

Connor Lemonheigh Evans 6 – I’m maybe being a bit harsh on CLE here, but compared to his centre midfield colleagues he wasn’t the best of the bunch. Held onto it for a little bit too long on a pitch that was getting heavier as the game progressed.

Asa Hall 7 – CAPTAIN LEADER LEGEND VIKING, a real gritty display from the skipper. Did all the nasty bits that need doing in the middle of the park.

Armani Little 7 – He only played 20 minutes but he looked well up for it. I’d say our slick passing moves seemed to grind to a halt when his afternoon was curtailed by his hamstring.

Ade Azeez 7 – A goal on your debut is a good day. Worked hard all game before being subbed.

Jamie Reid 6 – Not a vintage JR19 display by any means. On another day his effort in the second half bends into the bottom corner. Hat-trick next week, you heard it here first.

Subs;

Jake Andrews 8 – His set piece delivery was perfect today, consistently putting the ball in the danger zone. Was working well as part of the midfield trio.

Ben Wynter n/a – The guy played 4 minutes and prevented us from conceding a late equaliser. He is such a talent, we have missed him at right back.

Kalvin Kalala 5 – Decent enough from Kalv

Man of the Match: Joe Lewis

As I said before, he just wasn’t getting beat today. Every time he tackled he came away with the ball. We have finally played him at centre back and now he has the honour of being named my MOTM. Well done Joe.

Tactics:

A couple of personnel tweaks but a good display from the lads. Solid at the back with the numbers back there. I felt Asa linked the defence to the midfield well, where in recent weeks we have been missing.

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The Opposition:

How Halifax have found themselves 3rd in the league I will never know. They haven’t looked a good side in either league game or even the Trophy game they won. My opinion, they’ll finish about 10th. Team of time wasting players who will get found out.

The Officials:

The officials in this league are either narcissists or they get walked over by big bully teams. The referee today falls into the second category. Halifax were time wasting from minute 1, doesn’t mention it once lets them have free reign. Covolan doesn’t rush to get the ball back when its gone out behind him, angry short man comes out.

Key Moment:

Ben Wynter’s goal-line clearance. I was already expecting to see the Halifax fans celebrating an undeserved equaliser, but Ben had another idea. How many times down the years have we seen the rebound hit the bar and go in?

COYY

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