Now come on guys, my optimism can only last so long… Is this is a crisis? Not quite, but the slide from runaway leaders to also rans is becoming more and more worrying by the week. How have the Gulls gone from Boxing Day heroes to Maidenhead zeros in the last 3 months? Let’s have a look…
26th December 2020 – Yeovil Town (H) – Wright Out
Those were the days. That feeling of National League invincibility filled the air of Plainmoor, and we rejoiced at thrashing the Glovers and avenging 2019. But not everything that day went to plan, with Danny Wright hobbling off after 39 minutes with a painful looking injury. As we all know only too well, the striker has yet to return. Gary Johnson had found the perfect balance up to that day, with Wright the experienced foil for the energetic likes of Whitfield, CLE and Nemane. The Gulls could attack through the middle, down the wings, on the deck and in the air. Should such reliance ever have been placed on a 36 year old in the first place? Was an injury inevitable considering the intensity of games this season? Yes probably, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.
11th January 2021 – Rob Street Signs
With the injury shadow of Danny Wright looming large, in came U-23 youngster Rob Street from Crystal Palace on loan to fill the gap. The U-23 highlights looked promising but in a handful of appearances since arriving and only one start versus Barnet, the striker has made no impact. I don’t like to criticise the young lad too much and he may well go onto forge a decent career for himself, but unfortunately he just wasn’t the striker we needed. In recent games Rob has not even made the squad and considering our woes in front of goal, that’s a damning verdict from GJ.
18th January 2021 – Max Sheaf Signs
With injuries continuing to cause concern, another lad joined on loan – this time Max Sheaf from Hull City. Much like Rob Street, the highlight reel gave hope, this time of a midfielder who likes to get in the box and score the odd goal. Much like Rob Street, the impact has been fairly minimal. The midfielder did okay at Notts County, and had some moments at Woking – but it doesn’t seem like Gary Johnson knows how he fits into a line-up or the Torquay squad. Missing from the squad in recent games, it’s doubtful we’ll see the midfielder again. We simply needed more from these loans.
SET PIECE PROBLEMS
Earlier in the season the Gulls seemed to have solved their previous set piece issues and scored some important goals, with Kyle Cameron the main danger man in the box. Those problems have reared their ugly heads again. We’ve lost our main threat, consistently fail to beat the first man and can’t trouble goalkeepers for love or money. Back to the drawing board.
2nd February 2021 – Altrincham (H) – Nemane and Moxey Out
This game was disappointing for a number of reasons. Losing at Plainmoor after being a goal up was tough to take, especially considering the lack of cutting edge on show. However this match was also the last time we saw Dean Moxey and Aaron Nemane in a yellow shirt. Aaron Nemane picked up his injury during the second half and the terrific winger has been sorely missed; for the change of pace he brings to our attack and that total work rate (amongst other things). Dean Moxey gave us balance and experience in defence, and without him the left back position has been painfully poor – with Jake Andrews a very square peg in a round hole.
20th February 2021 – FC Halifax (H) – Cameron Out
Mid-February and with the pressure starting to build more and more from Sutton United, the Gulls put in a dismal display in front of the BT Sports cameras. It didn’t help that our best defender Kyle Cameron pulled up very early and had to limp out of the game. Without him the defence was all at the sea, as the Shaymen exposed our fragility to take home all 3 points. Since then the back four or three has lacked leadership and aggression, making the Gulls far too easy to play against – culminating with that Maidenhead display. The deputy skipper cannot come back soon enough.
13th March 2021 – Boreham Wood (A) – Whitfield Out
Not a game to live long in the memory banks, but two key moments stick out. Asa Hall’s missed penalty and Ben Whitfield’s knock before half time. The injury curse continues, but let’s face it we have been dicing with Ben’s fitness this season. The winger always gives so much to each game and was an ever-present up to that point, starting in every NL and FA Trophy game, which seemed very unnecessary at the time. In recent weeks the toil has been catching on the lad and his form has understandably suffered. Another key man in the treatment room and problems for Gary Johnson.
THE FORM OF CLE
At our best, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans was scintillating. Finding spaces, causing havoc for the opposition and scoring important goals that made him probably the best player in the National League around December time. The effort has still been there and Connor is still trying to do the right things, however opposition defences have watched game footage and worked out they need to get tighter on the Welshman, and unfortunately the highlights have dried up. CLE is too good not to come again, but we could do with this happening sooner rather than later.
16th March 2021 – Maidenhead (A)
I’ve tried to fight the waves of pessimism but this match brought too much pain and too many questions. Poor all over the pitch and battered by a mid-table team, is this promotion dream turning into a nightmare? It’s a typically emotionally charged and rollercoaster TUFC season isn’t it, why did we ever expect any different? We remain in 3rd, a position that we would gladly have taken back in October and we still have chances, especially when the cavalry of injured players regain fitness – so all is far from lost. A response is required this weekend…any scrappy win will do.