Thomas Kelly – @tommyktufc
The top two sides in the National League came face to face in a game, which on paper had the potential to provide plenty of goals, entertainment and drama. Unfortunately, just like Liverpool v Manchester United a few weeks ago, the match failed to provide us with goals, lacked entertainment for the most part, although we did have some drama which I will get to shortly.
The first fifteen minutes was probably the best part of the game, both Torquay and Sutton testing each other’s defences. Ajiboye showed ridiculous pace from his own half towards the Gulls box but for a brilliant tackle from Nemane to deny Sutton an opportunity at goal.
Whitfield did well at the other end to run past Sutton’s defence and force an effort towards Bouzanis.
Ajiboye again proved a danger, forcing Macdonald into a decent save before gathering at the second attempt.
A free kick eighteen minutes in for Torquay almost proved effective, with Bouzanis’ weak punch finding Umerah who was adjudged to have fouled a player in the build up.
Then the game got, well, boring. Both teams doing well to snuff out any real clear cut chances. The game was stopped numerous times for head injuries, mainly for Sutton which definitely affected the flow of the game.
Towards the end of the first half, Moxey was booked for fouling Ajiboye out wide. That would be important later on.
0-0 at half time.
Off came Umerah for Street and the Crystal Palace loanee almost made an instant impact. Unmarked in the six yard box, he failed to head the ball on target from an excellent ball in. That should have been 1-0.
Then the drama, on 56 mins, Moxey got his marching orders for a clear foul on a Sutton player. Torquay would have to dig deep.
Oddly, the red card seemed to kick start the Gulls, Torquay creating some pressure and some decent opportunities, first Connor from outside the left side of the box forcing Bouzanis into a smart save before Street doing well to send Whitfield through on goal, but again Bouzanis did well to parry the ball away.
Torquay had to weather a few dangerous free kicks but as the mist defended, neither side could find a winner. A decent point in the end for Torquay, who maintain their nine point gap over Sutton.
Macdonald – 7: Didn’t have much to do in honesty. His kicking was a bit off but another clean sheet for Shaun.
Lewis – 8: Welcome back Joe. Got chucked straight in and put in a decent performance. Will be an important signing for us and with Moxey out for the next game, his versatility at the back will be very important as the season (hopefully) goes on.
Sherring – 7: Played well, grew into the game after early pressure from Sutton.
Cameron – 8: Composed performance from the skipper. Defended well against a tricky Sutton attack.
Moxey – 5: Many will say his first booking was soft but his second was a silly challenge when on a yellow card. Had a decent game up to that point.
Nemane – 8.5: This lad has come on leaps and bounds since last season. Never stopped running and in my opinion our MOTM.
Lemonheigh-Evans – 7.5: Forced a great save from the keeper in the second half, seemed to play a deeper role but going forward he did link up well which is where he excels at.
Randell – 7: Solid if not spectacular. Had to go right back once Moxey was off. Sutton did well defending his free kicks.
Whitfield – 7: He had his moments but Sutton marshalled him well for long periods. Unlucky not to score but like Nemane kept on running throughout.
Little – 6: Didn’t quite work out for Armani today, although coming back from injury maybe it’s to be expected that he wasn’t at his normal standard. More minutes under his belt and I’m sure he’ll have better games ahead. Lost the ball far too often.
Umerah – 5.5: A lad who really needs a goal to boost his confidence. He just wasn’t at it today and was subbed off at HT. Like Little he was dispossessed far too often. That said I think there’s a good player there, he definitely needs support up front as he was struggling to create an impact.
Street – 6.5: Should have done better with his header six yards out, however all things considered, I’m excited to see him play again. Set through Whitfield with an excellent pass & defended set pieces when required. Offered us something different when we needed it.
Andrews: 5: On for the final fifteen minutes or so. Got booked but provided some extra legs when we needed them.
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Man Of The Match: Aaron Nemane
It may seem odd that for a team playing with ten men for the final 35 minutes and not conceding that I would choose a midfield player for MOTM but Nemane once again impressed me with his all-round game. I was worried once we were down to ten that he may have been sacrificed but Gary kept him on and Nemane kept his energy levels up. His tackle on Ajiboye early on was excellent and nullified a potentially dangerous move. He won the ball towards the end of the game as well to put us on the attack in stoppage time which kept the ball towards the Sutton half rather than our own. I put him down as a key player in our squad now.
Kyle Cameron also gets a deserved mention. Another player who has come on leaps and bounds from last season.
4-4-1-1 although at times it looked like we went to a 4-5-1. Once Moxey was off we seemed to settle with a 4-4-1. Tough night for the forwards who were isolated a lot.
Key Moment: Moxey red card
Many Gulls fans would have been fearing the worst once the referee brandished the red card to Moxey, however with ten men Torquay seemed to find a bit quality in a game that to that point had been lacking for both sides. You either lose focus and allow the game to slip away from you, or in our case, you put in the extra effort to make up for it and show what you as a team are all about. The 10-15 mins after the red we found a bit of extra energy and were unlucky not to score on two occasions. We all know this Torquay side have something special about them this season and the effort the lads put in to keep a clean sheet should be praised.
You can see why Sutton are up there. Like Notts County they are a physical side with dangerous pacey forwards and no-nonsense defenders. Ajiboye looked the most likely to cause us problems but we did well to restrict his input on the game. Lesser teams have and will struggle to deal with them and I fully expect them to achieve a top 7 finish. In the nicest way they are a horrible side to deal with, on numerous occasions they weren’t happy with our defensive set piece positions and no doubt if fans were allowed in, they would have wound a few of our fan base up. That said they will be disappointed to let a great chance to close the gap up slip away and face some tough away games coming up.
Far too card & whistle happy. Some head injuries he stopped the game and others he ignored. I would have to watch the first yellow card for Moxey again, but from what I’ve seen on social media, most say it was soft. It seems it was another typical National League officiating performance from the men in black.
A point gained? Absolutely. I think most of us would have taken a point after Moxey saw red. If anything, we can consider ourselves unlucky maybe not to have nicked it based on our little spell afterwards. On paper, two goalless draws may look like we’re beginning to lose a bit of momentum, in reality, it’s two clean sheets against two valid challengers chasing us for the league with key players like Asa and Danny Wright out injured. Put those two in the squad and we are definitely stronger. Sutton will be disappointed not to have closed the gap and as things stand have to win their games in hand to go level with us. Will we lose matches? Of course we will, but so will Sutton, so will Stockport. I’ve maintained from the start of the season that getting games played and getting points on the board will be vital to how successful we will be. We’ve earned the right to be where we are and those with games in hand will be under pressure to win them. All we can do is keep picking up points, one game at a time.
Keep it yellow, believe in Gary, COYY – Thomas