TT MATCH VERDICT
Rachel Malloch – @RachelVillavox
Live, from Norwich, it’s the quiz of the week, ah those memories of Anglia TV and it’s anchor quiz show ‘Sale of the Century’, or the Hoseasons adverts for luxury boating trips along the broads. Then there was Bernard Matthews bestowing the fate of his turkeys from his Norfolk turkey farm. Of course too there was those long, winding coach trips to Carrow Road to watch Villa invariably come away with very little only to embark on that solemn long, winding coach trip home. Happy memories too of a family holiday to Great Yarmouth and with that, putting King’s Lynn Town firmly on the East Anglian map because I’ll confess I thought it was somewhere in Surrey…or Essex. It often takes my mum aged 84 to point me in the right geographical direction. “Off to watch the live stream against King’s Lynn now mum” after we both celebrated a late penalty winner at the Molineux in her kitchen over a cuppa. “Ooh Norfolk. Hope they win”.
So to the Walks ground, with it’s big grandstand positioned amongst terraced stands and substantial terraced houses in the foreground. A crowd of 600 home supporters had gathered in their mix and match face masks, with many more joining them for a virtual football experience via a live stream to take on the league leaders and form team Torquay United. Anticipation reigned supreme in our household, and seeing the refreshments hut was open for business, a slight sense of envy that despite Plainmoor opening its turnstiles to fans, the cheesy chips are still verboten.
The game started with Torquay on the back foot, King’s Lynn firmly on the front, and the dye was set for pretty much 79 or so minutes of this game. It took a controversial red card for captain Asa Hall to finally fire up these Torquay players and where we suddenly found some passing flare, shape and urgency in our game that prior to that had been snuffed out by a spirited, determined King’s Lynn outfit. This is very often the case when playing with 10. Asa Hall has been in exquisite dogged form, leading by example and has marshalled and captained this Torquay United side superbly as deserved National League table toppers, but today just wasn’t his day.
That could be said for a lot of the players, so much of their usual sharp passing play and high tempo football just didn’t come off, but what was encouraging is that despite a decidedly below par performance, their effort and closing down for every mis-placed pass or sloppy game, was very much evident. A game that King’s Lynn dominated and pushed, huffed and puffed but thankfully did not blow the Torquay defensive house down. Where our midfield went missing so often, there was just enough to break down an attacking move or a dangerous corner. King’s Lynn had plenty corners, I counted 11 but maths is up there with my geography. The Linnets may count themselves very unfortunate not to take all the spoils of this rain lashed, quagmire pitch encounter. There was one player who was both indomitable and supremely defiant in this contest. Take a bow Shaun MacDonald.
In the very first minute, a looping ball found a King’s Lynn forward, one on one, but Mac blocked the shot on the line for a corner. The trend was set. For every King’s Lynn attack, if the defensive set up of Cameron and Sherring was breached, if the makeshift full backs of Andrews and Kerr were caught for pace, MacDonald was there to block, parry, claim, flip over, command, retrieve, the man was in extraordinary form this afternoon.
There was of course the ever busy skills and pace of Ben Whitfield who had his chances and caused some problems for the King’s Lynn defence, a beautiful in-swinging cross from the Lemon found Whits in space but his first time volley was wide of target when he might have done better. Adam Randell, usually such a sharp, accurate passer, mislaid a ball in the path of Gash. Fortunately on this occasion, Gash’s shot was well wide in a good position. There was time for a Jake Andrews free kick that brought a good save just before half time.
The second half started with no changes on either side and the game continued in the same vein as the first, King’s Lynn pushing, harrying, winning every 50-50 ball, just being that little bit quicker to every ball, another bevvy of corner kicks, Torquay’s custodian being alert to everything and having to produce some great stops to keep Torquay level. There was time for a Whits goal-line clearance, Sherring ankle injury, and subsequent substitution being replaced by Gary Warren, with Billy Waters and Josh Umerah joining the field at the expense of a luckless Danny Wright and erratic Adam Randell.
The controversial talking point arrived in the 79th minute. Another King’s Lynn attack had pushed the ball out wide to the right, Asa Hall sliding in and from both real time and the replay, appeared to win the ball fairly. Referee Jacob Marles (not quite Ebeneezer Scrooge’s business partner. Pity) saw it as foot up, late, dangerous, who knows what Jacob Marles saw but he certainly appeared to respond to the King’s Lynn players who were surrounding him simulating a high foot challenge. A harsh red and early bath for Asa and Torquay now having to see the game out with 10 men. This seemed to revitalise Torquay, and they started to play some nice football, Andrews finding Randell whose snap shot was dealt with well by the King’s Lynn keeper turning it around the post. From the proceeding corner the ball was cleared only to Nemane, who found Whitfield, whose goal bound short was cleared for another corner.
On the 90 minute mark Torquay won a free kick in a decent position around 20 yards out. Up stepped Jake Andrews whose shot was on target but comfortable for the keeper. The 4th official announced 6 minutes injury time which gave the already verbose stream commentary team more material to witter and waffle inanely on. Torquay were ending the game strongly and you sensed they could see a half chance stealing the 3 points. But it wasn’t to be and Torquay United came away with a valuable point and huge sighs of relief across the south west internet.
MacDonald – 10 – MOTM – A game where he was quite simply impeccable.
Sherring – 7 – Dealt with the swathe of attacks admirably. Hopefully he shakes off the ankle injury.
Cameron – 7 – Had a great shot well saved and also had a competent game.
Kerr – 6 – Looked a bit shaky at times but thwarted a few attacking moves.
Andrews – 6.5 – Like Kerr, was caught for a pace a few times but had a strong last 15 minutes pushing forward.
Nemane – 6.5 – Always willing, always running, nipping at heels but final ball and touch not quite there today.
Hall – 6 – Our captain really struggled to impose his leadership qualities on the game today. Didn’t look entirely comfortable (hope that coccyx is okay). Sending off harsh nee baffling.
Randell – 6 – His game wasn’t quite there either today.
Whitfield – 7 – Made some telling runs, got a fair few shots in, was our one real threat to get on the score-sheet.
CLE – 6 – Frustrating for our talented attacking mid. Not for the want of effort though.
Wright 6 – Thought he held the ball up well first half, with little support. Faded and was subbed.
Umerah (for Wright) 6 – A few useful touches, no real contribution.
Waters (for Randell) 6 – As above.
Warren (for Sherring) 6 – Saw the game out.
Do you agree with Rachel? Rate the players here – TUFC PLAYER RATINGS
MAN OF THE MATCH: SHAUN MACDONALD
He was brilliant this afternoon. Mr Safe hands. Pulled out some corker saves, commanded and covered his area with assurance and confidence. Flawless, and the team owe him a pint for earning that draw.
That man of the match again, Shaun MacDonald. Even had the mealy mouthed verbiage that was the KIng’s Lynn commentary team waxing lyrical over his performance. He really was in unbeatable form today.
The same as the last game v Maidenhead…and the game before that. We didn’t play well. We got a point. Gary Johnson will be disappointed but in hindsight, he shouldn’t be. We are the league leaders and by proxy, there to be ‘shot at’. These are a fine group of players led by an experienced captain.
Lively. Quick on the wings. Crowded out our midfield lads and didn’t give our attacking players any time to rest on the ball. Certainly not the display of a team languishing 18th in the NL If they continue to play this well, they’ll soon be climbing up the league.
Referee Jacob Marley. Okay Marles. Up until the 79th minute I thought he had plied his trade efficiently allowing the game to be played in the gusto it had fashioned. The straight red card on Asa Hall was preposterous. Thankfully it didn’t affect the game and I would be confident that with the King’s Lynn replay app, it won’t take a Stockley Park trainee technician to over-turn the decision and we see our captain on the pitch Tuesday night. We need him. Even a sluggish Asa Hall is a presence in this squad.
We just didn’t settle into the Gary Johnson school of groove. We didn’t impart our passing high tempo front foot attacking style of football and may have left the 600 or so Linnets fans scratching their heads at how they are where they are and we are top of the league. But we are, and we will play a whole lot better than this and anyway, for all their bluster, they couldn’t breach fortress MacDonald.
COYY – Rachel