TT Match Verdict
Sam reports back on Torquay’s third game of pre-season.
Sam Jones – @samuellejones
Torquay United played Chippenham Town in their third pre-season game, on what looked like a beautiful yet windy day on the English Riviera.
Gary Johnson made a couple of changes from the side that beat Bournemouth U23’s 3-0. Covolan replaced MacDonald in goal and Nelson came in for Josh Umerah up top. Asa Hall and Jake Andrews returned on the bench, Kerr missed out with a back spasm but there was still no sign of Warren or Armani Little. The Gulls lined up in the same 5-3-2 formation they did midweek. A back 3 of Wynter, Cameron and Moxey was flanked by Buse and Koszela. Nemane, Whitfield and the Lemon made up the midfield, with Wright and Nelson up front. This was the third game in a row that the Gulls lined up with this formation, potentially giving us a clue to how we’ll start against Stockport.
According to Dave Thomas, Chippenham had already played 8 pre-season games before this one, and it showed. The Bluebirds start the match on the front foot, with former Gull (the least controversial fact about him) Chris Zebroski leading the line. He had the game’s first chance after 8 minutes when he tried to chip Cov from about 30 yards out, but to no avail. The Gulls started to move through the gears but the passing was sloppy and all too often the move broke down. Lemonheigh-Evans had the Yellows first shot in anger 20 minutes in after the ball fell to him outside the box, but he dragged it well wide.
Chippenham were finding holes in the Gulls defence with some clever movement and forced Cov into a very good save after 19 minutes, with our Brazilian going full Peter Schmeichel to keep the opposition at bay. United then broke, won a corner which Cameron should have done better with. After finding himself free at the back-post, he could only guide the header downwards and into the arms of Puddy in the Bluebirds goal. This was about as good as it got in the first half for the Gulls, as Chippenham took the upper hand.
With the game meandering to half time, Chippenham looked for all the world like they’d scored. A point blank header from a corner, of which they must have had 10 but insisted on taking them all short, was somehow kept out by Covolan on the goal-line. A moment of brilliance by our Brazilian number one. And then it all went a bit wrong. Chippenham took a shot, which was deflected and heading well wide. For some unknown reason, Covolan sprinted out of his goal to try and stop it from going out. All he ended up doing was dropping the ball at the feet of Bradley Ash, who fired it into an open goal. 1-0 to the Bluebirds, and that was the least they deserved.
United tried to fight back, but mustered nothing. The half time whistle blew and the Gulls were behind.
Gary had seen enough and made a couple of changes, with Umerah and MacDonald on for Nelson and Cov. This didn’t change the flow of the game as Chippenham still dominated the ball in the early exchanges. They forced even more corners, but didn’t do anything with them. The Gulls tried to up their game, but the sloppiness in possession still lingered. Chippenham were very well drilled at the back and hard to break down. There were a couple of half chances though, as a Whitfield shot was easily saved by Puddy, followed by Koszela drilling just wide. The Lemon was then presented with a great chance as a cross from Olaf was dropped by Puddy. The ball hit Evans, who knew nothing about it, and just went wide.
At 63 minutes, Gary gave the fans what they wanted as Asa Hall stepped back on the pitch looking as Godly as ever. Andrews came on as well, as they replaced Koszela and Buse. The Gulls then shifted formation to a 4-4-2, with Jake going to left-back, Nemane on the left wing and Wright and Umerah up front. The game was opening up and the Gulls were pushing for an equaliser, but couldn’t really get anything going. Chippenham actually came the closest for us as a header from a defender nearly chipped their own keeper.
It was then our turn to muck up from a header. A harmless bit of aerial ping pong in the midfield led to Moxey trying to head the ball back to MacDonald. However, he seriously under-cooked his header and gave poor Mac no chance as Pratt nipped in ahead of him and poked the ball home. Disaster, but Chippenham deserved it. Torquay then huffed and puffed but couldn’t must even a consolation. Andrews hit the post from a free-kick, Whitfield’s cross-cum-shot forced a great save out of Puddy and Cam shinned over from about 5 yards out from a corner. The full-time whistle blew, and the Gulls had lost for the first time in pre-season.
Can I have my £4 back please?
Lucas Covolan – 5: Went from Gordon Banks to Mark Bosnich. Goalkeeping question very much still open.
Ben Wynter – 6.5: Typically solid and unspectacular from our right back turned centre-back.
Kyle Cameron – 7.5: Best player in Yellow. Solid in defence and looked good on the ball. Could be a breakthrough season.
Dean Moxey – 5: Looked solid and unflappable until his poor header let Chippenham score their second.
Olaf Koszela – 6.5: Not a wing-back but looked very lively. Had our best chance of the match, and has a decent cross on him too.
Buse – 5.5: Tried his best in an unfamiliar position. Much better in the centre of the park.
Nemane – 5.5: Needs to be more decisive on the ball, as he obviously has the ability. Made a couple of cracking tackles though.
Whitfield – 5.5: Lots of running, but no end-product. A couple more games and he’ll be up to speed.
Lemonhaigh-Evans – 5.5: Like Whitfield, lots of running, tried hard but nothing came off. 90 minutes in the tank is good too.
Wright – 5: Anonymous, didn’t affect the game at all.
Nelson – 5: See above. Hooked at half time.
MacDonald – 6.5: Good handling when called upon. Could do nothing about the second goal.
Andrews – 6.5: Added more attacking impetus when brought on. Very unlucky with a free kick.
Hall – 6.5: Put himself about, couple of decent touches. Great to see him back.
Slough – N/A: Not enough time to make an impact.
Man of the Match
The vice-captain, and the man with the greatest beard since Captain Birdseye, is having a strong pre-season. Once again he was solid at the back, commanding in the air and looked really good with the ball at his feet. Should’ve done better with a first half header, but not the end of the world. Hopefully can carry this form into the season.