“Joe Lewis has arguably been one of our best players since the new year and slotted in perfectly at CB”
The Ed blogs about TUFC
Dom Roman – @DomRoman
1-0 TO THE TORQUAY BOYS
Finding solace in Football is something I’ve often done over the years. It’s always a risk laying your mood eggs in the Plainmoor basket, and hoping they come up trumps – but that’s e(gg)xactly what the lads did on Saturday. To be honest I’d had such a testing week with family illness (and attached poor sleep zzzz), work toils and boiler breakdown (heading outside to warm up)…that just being at the match seemed like long shot. But having waited 28 days for a game to watch and with things looking marginally brighter by Friday, I would thankfully not be denied my perch on Bristow’s!
In the end it was a tight game as expected, with two teams reasonably matched and the unforgiving wind doing neither team favours (longest winter ever). Torquay carried more purpose in the 1st half, but akin to many of our Plainmoor games in 2019-20, the opposition keeper’s gloves remained un-muddied. Then a hussle of Halifax activity at the start of the second half looked ominous, before Ade Azeez announced himself to the Yellow Army with a stooping header from close range (who else was half-expecting an offside flag from officials who stunk of annoying inconsistency all game?!). After usual late panic, centre backs falling over each other and cries of “blow your whistle ref”, there was eventually 3 points for the merry Gulls. My week had improved at last…hurrah for Ade!
The most impressive facet to the game for United was the defence and how it coped admirably throughout the 90 minutes. Gary Johnson decided to use Lewis/Cundy/Cameron as a three at the back and it paid dividends. Joe Lewis has arguably been one of our best players since the new year and slotted in perfectly at CB. The big defender is so solid! He stays on his feet, attacks the ball with aggression and is no slouch in chasing down loose balls. The young lad has played a number of times at right back, but looks far more suited to centre back and has the spot-on attitude to enjoy a very bright future in the game.
NO LAUGHING MATTER
Robbie Cundy and Kyle Cameron had almost become a comedy double act earlier in the season (not that I was laughing), such was their propensity for defensive gaffs. But not now. Cundy looked comfortable in the middle of the 3, heading away numerous long balls and keeping his composure when Town had the odd sniff around the box. Meanwhile Kyle is regaining his confidence and ironing out the flaws that have plagued his progress. I have always had high belief that the Geordie can excel in the National League and if he can continue to put in highly concentrated performances like that, then we’ll have a real player.
Overall the balance of the team looked better on Saturday, with Longridge and Whits providing plenty of width and CLE/Armani/Hall strong in midfield, whilst Ade and Reidy kept the Shaymen defence busy. Connor Lemonheigh-Evans has been an ‘undroppable’ for Gary Johnson, which considering his poor form, illustrates how much GJ believes in the City man. He still frustrated us on Saturday with variable end-product, but this was a sharper and crisper performance from ‘the Lemon’. His tight first tough gave him space to do things with the ball, he was finding space in-between the lines and actually looked like a man enjoying his football again – which in the end is half the battle.
Armani Little also started with a bang, flying into tackles and getting on the ball regularly – until the dreaded hamstring took care of his day. I wish him well, his season has been cursed with injury and has robbed us of a player of real quality. One man’s bad fortune is another man’s good fortune, and Jake Andrews took his chance very well. We all know this boy’s quality in open play and from set pieces, and it’s been a real shame to see him twiddle his fingers on the side-lines. Playmakers like him demand inclusion.
The other midfielder Asa Hall put in a real scrapping winter performance. With the ball often falling loose due to conditions, he got stuck in again and again. Asa’s distribution will never be sparkling and if you are expecting him to dictate the game by pinging it around the park…then you’ve come to the wrong place. But the grizzled veteran leads by example, uses his experience to win back the ball and is integral to what we do as a team. Our problem this season (amongst other things) has been having no proper replacement for the skipper, even though the plucky Matt Buse did his very best.
Can we follow it up this Saturday? Yeah I’d like to think so. Chorley at home would in fact be a home banker…if we weren’t Torquay United! They are well-adrift of safety and will travel just hoping to salvage something positive to take to the end of the season. This is the time to show our professionalism and throw ourselves into this fixture with the same level of intensity displayed V Halifax. No complacency, no excuses – take charge of the game and hunt down another 3 points. They only have to look back to the Ebbsfleet bore draw to see what can go wrong. Another win, the Azeez/Reidy double act kicking into gear and who knows, suddenly a play-off spot doesn’t look impossible. One game at the time though my dear Gulls!
One nice addition by the club at the weekend was the certificates and free tickets handed out to smiling new junior fans (see below). It’s a welcome bit of thinking outside the box by the club, and will hopefully persuade these little ones to become regulars for many years to come. Also launched was the Official Supporters Club, which on the other hand does not have my full backing, especially considering how similar the aims are to the TUST. This is TUFC basically unwilling to be accountable to it’s fans – unless it is within a controlled group administered by the club, with an agenda set by the club! Join the Trust.TWITTER – @TORQUAYTALK – @torquaytalkpod