TT MATCH VERDICT
United will be pleased to have come through this potential banana skin tie, reaching the quarter final of the FA Trophy. A heavy pitch and an industrious Southport side that seemed to grow in confidence, ensured that the Gulls had to work a little harder for the victory than they would have liked…
After a bleak introductory monologue, during which the local commentator addressed funding woes and pitch problems, the line ups were revealed. It took three or four minutes to work out how the team sheet translated into a real life formation, with the Gulls lining up in a fairly flat 4-4-2.
United were patient in the opening minutes, happy to spread the ball around and wait for their opportunity to strike. This still doesn’t feel entirely natural for a side that had become known for all-action early pressure and plenty of first half chances.
The Gulls did make a breakthrough in the 8th minute, with fine work by Whitfield and the overlapping Randell down the right hand side resulting in a measured ball pulled back for Josh Umerah, who struck the ball true enough that the unsighted keeper could not get a hand to it. 1-0 Torquay.
As the first half progressed, Southport began to engineer chances of their own, and United rode their luck defensively on a few occasions, with some crosses and through balls not being dealt with particularly efficiently.
By the time the second half began, United had made two changes. The injured goal-scorer Umerah had already made way for loanee Rob Street after around 40 minutes, and after a quite thrilling anecdote from the commentary team about the importance of wearing appropriate clothing, Conor Lemonheigh-Evans was introduced for Armani Little – it of course being illegal for the two of them to play together.
The second half continued in a similar vein, with the Gulls failing to clear several balls into the box and struggling with the condition of the pitch on the counter attack. On one such occasion, Billy Waters failed to convert after a good run from Rob Street, but as the clock began to tick down it was Waters who finished off a successful move that had involved Ben Whitfield and Conor Lemonheigh-Evans, with a timely sweep of his right boot.
In truth a 2-0 victory may look convincing on paper, but the Gulls really only just did enough to earn their place in the quarter final. If we are to continue to challenge in the league, we will have to be better than this.
MacDonald 7 – Did have to be alert to make one or two decent stops, but on the other hand I felt like he could have been a bit more commanding with balls into the box.
Randell 7 – Following in the Lee Mansell tradition of filling in at right back. Very good going forward but exposed a few times by the Southport left winger.
Lewis 6 – Shifted from centre back to left back after the introduction of Sherring. Still settling into the team.
Cameron 7 – Some important tackles, particularly late on.
Moxey 6 – Southport wingers got some joy during the game. Didn’t have much impact going forward.
Whitfield 7 – Faded a little in the second half but still managed to get an assist. Always one of our most energetic and creative outlets.
Little 6 – Had “little” impact on the game before being subbed at half time.
Sheaf 6 – Presumably started to give Asa a rest, kept the ball moving at times but largely invisible.
Andrews 6 – Doesn’t offer the same kind of threat as Nemane as a winger. Knows how to manage the game and waste time when possible, and used this well to see the game out.
Umerah 7 – Took his goal well and showed signs of some developing link-up play before injury cut his game short.
Waters 7 – A quiet first half but grew in confidence towards the end of the game. Had a few half-chances and took his goal well.
Street 6 – Got involved in the counter attacks on a couple of occasions, but didn’t offer much of a presence.
CLE 7 – A quiet game by his standards, but it only took one surging run and lovely ball to Whitfield to make his mark.
Sherring 6 – Only had 20 minutes or so to hold the line, which he did.
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Man Of The Match – Ben Whitfield
This is difficult because nobody really excelled, but I’m going to plump for Whitfield because he was involved in both goals.
Adam Randell for putting in a shift out of position. Looked more comfortable going forward than doing the defensive work, but characteristically gave it his all.
Gary went with a 4-4-2, and although Umerah and Waters never seem to gel, they both grabbed a goal so what do I know? United fielded a relatively strong side, with just a couple of regular starters rested in the bench.
Southport were energetic at times and had plenty of opportunities to really make a game of it, but were unlucky at times, and at others just lacked that clinical edge.
Probably the biggest decision the referee had to make was denying Southport a penalty. He ended up booking the Southport manager for continued dissent instead.
Job done, just.
Up Next: Wealdstone (H) National League – 9th Feb 2021