TT MATCH VERDICT
Chris Wade – @TufcChris
After a tense, nervous afternoon at Plainmoor (shock horror), the Yellows earned their first win at home in 2021 thanks to a 1-0 win against King’s Lynn.
United had two changes from Tuesday’s game at Maidenhead with fit again Lucas Covolan preferred to Shaun MacDonald in goal, and Plymouth loanee Ryan Law handed his debut in place of Billy Waters in a revamped 4-4-2. Law slotted into left back, with Randell and Andrews on the flanks and Armani Little in attack with Scott Boden.
It was almost a disastrous start for United as, after Law committed a foul 22 yards out, the free kick smacked against the corner of post and bar and Covolan got up to deny the rebound with his inner thigh and Joe Lewis cleared the danger.
The Linnets were playing the ball out from the back at every opportunity which gave us the chance to get our high press going in full flow, almost stealing the ball on several occasions in the first ten minutes. Sam Sherring nodded a chance wide from a corner and the keeper pushed a low drive from Little wide. Scott Boden also poked a golden chance wide from 6 yards after a Hall shot was palmed away, although the flag was questionably up.
Jake Andrews had started well and a cross almost looped in on 18 minutes, one of several good crosses in the first half. Lots of pleasant inter-play almost came off but I headed off for my half time hot cross bun frustrated.
No sooner had I taken the first bite of raisin and sat down for the second half than we took the lead. The ball broke in midfield, Lemonheigh-Evans drove through midfield and hit a low shot at goal, Richardson in goal could only push it away, and Boden was the quickest to react to poke the ball through a defender’s legs and into the goal. It was United’s first goal from open play for 433 minutes and just what we needed, although the margarine took a while to get out of the carpet.
The goal visibly got us on the front foot, with Wynter driving a shot wide, Sherring just failing to get on the end of a Jake Andrews free kick and several other balls flashing across the King’s Lynn area. All the while, the visitors played out from the back and United hustled and harried trying to sneak a clear opportunity.
Lucas Covolan remained untroubled in the home goal apart from the odd set piece, but while the score remained 1-0, there were nerves a plenty after United’s recent run. Josh Umerah replaced the hard-working Boden with 13 minutes to go, shortly before Little intercepted 25 yards from goal and blasted a shot at goal that was pushed away by Richardson.
The Yellows managed the game well, with Buse replacing the exhausted Little in stoppage time. The final whistle brought cheers of relief from the ground (and my dining room).
Lucas Covolan 6 – A couple of shaky moments and poor clearances on his return. Whether you are Team Covolan or Team MacDonald in the great debate, he was solid enough on his return.
Ben Wynter 7 – His best game since he returned from injury. He was in his natural position for kick off and was proactive and on the front foot throughout. Solid defensively too.
Sam Sherring 6 – Dealt with the threat from the visitors well and won his headers. Lead the back line well.
Joe Lewis 6 – As Sherring really. An early harsh booking left him walking a tight rope, but he was solid and repelled everything that came his way.
Ryan Law 6 – Shaky first half of his full debut when he gave the ball away several times, but recovered and tucked in much better in the second half. Looks to have a good left foot.
Adam Randell 6 – As Lewis, a harsh early booking left him on a knife edge. But he worked as hard as ever and nearly got the ball through on several occasions.
Asa Hall 7 – Much better from the Viking. Drove from midfield and controlled the tempo much better than of late and was a threat in the opposition box as ever.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans 7 – Restored to a central midfield role, it was his shot that led to the only goal of the game. He always works hard and just need to shoot more as he was in several good positions and tried to play an extra pass.
Jake Andrews 8 – MOTM, see below.
Armani Little 7 – It was great to see him doing the full 90 minutes and appear to last so well. He chased everything and showed his quality on the ball in flashes. Looks to be getting closer to full fitness (please let this comment not be a kiss of death to his hamstrings).
Scott Boden 7 – Led the line well. Held the ball up and brought others into play with flicks on several occasions and was alive to poach the only goal of the game. Noticed the difference when he was replaced.
Josh Umerah 5 – Came on and ran around, was offside twice and failed to hold the ball up. With his muscular presence, the mystery goes on.
Matt Buse N/A – Came on in the 91st minute and got his head to one cross.
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Man of The Match – Jake Andrews
Now here’s a thing. I have increasingly struggled to see how he fits in. Has played out of position and not been able to affect the game within the formation we have played. On the left side on a 4-4-2, he was excellent. He was our best outlet in the first half and delivered several quality balls in from the left side. In the second half, he protected Ryan Law well and was able to bring the ball out, not to mention the regulation sticking his bum out whilst backing in to people and then falling over to win a free kick of several occasions.
Asa Hall, Scott Boden and Armani Little – the whole team worked hard, but these three contributed to the team really well. Boden led the line nicely; Hall orchestrated the play from midfield very well and Little worked and worked.
As ever, we looked far more comfortable in a 4-4-2 formation. Without Whitfield and Nemane, we lacked some natural width, but Andrews and Randell pushed out wide at every chance and Wynter and Law got forward as much as possible.
King’s Lynn didn’t look like a side in the lower, non-existent relegation places. They played more football than a lot of lower placed clubs, and got on with the play at every opportunity. The free kick in the first ninety seconds was their only real opportunity, but they worked hard and kept going to the end.
The referee has one of the highest card counts in the league, and two early yellow cards left you worried. But there was only one further one near the end and generally he was not seen.
The 46th minute. Fresh from half time, we started on the front foot and scored with our first chance of the half. Boden reacted quickest to poke home the winner. It changed the shape of the games as the longer it stayed at 0-0 and after our recent run, the more nervous it would have got. It helped us settle down.
A much needed three points for the Yellows. After our recent run and horrendous performance in midweek, it was all about getting the three points in any way that we could. A scrappy 1-0 will do the job just nicely thank you. Now to back it up on Tuesday…. All aboard everyone?