TT MATCH VERDICT
Matty Roberts – MattherVA438
Fresh from the disappointment of losing at Dagenham last Saturday, this week has been one of mainly good news for Torquay fans. Whispers of Danny Wright’s return from a three-month injury have been growing louder for a few weeks and he finally played in a friendly against Exeter earlier in the week, getting a goal in the process. Then the news we were waiting for, he would be back in the squad for the Woking game.
With Plainmoor drenched in the early April sunshine and plenty of Easter eggs in supply, I was looking forward to a good afternoon filled with exciting, attacking football against familiar foes Woking. Johnson made just the one personnel change in the starting XI from the loss seven days prior, Jake Andrews was dropped to the bench to facilitate the first start of Benji Kimpioka. This meant Little shifting over to the left of midfield where he had a less than successful afternoon. Danny Wright was on the bench in place of Josh Umerah.
The first half was unremarkable, to be generous. Torquay were the better side, threading some nice passing moves together but rarely getting into a position to actually cause the Woking defence any danger. The only real chance of note was a nice ball through to Boden in the box who turned his man and drove a shot across the turf, narrowly missing the post. Torquay should’ve had a good opportunity at the end of the first half when Lemonheigh-Evans had a free-kick right on the edge of the box. Just get it into the mixer you’re thinking, but no, instead he tried to sort of chip the goalkeeper who remained rooted to his line and tipped it over. A real waste.
Other than that there was very little to report from the first 45 minutes. Woking had offered practically nothing and moved as many men behind the ball as possible when they were on the defensive. Torquay had plenty of possession but had done almost nothing with it. Surely the second half cold only get better?
No, in the second half Torquay’s passing by and large disappeared and those of us watching at home were left with a very scrappy and low-quality affair. Danny Wright made an unexpectedly early entrance, coming on for Scott Boden on 53 minutes but the pattern of the game didn’t change. This was a game where one goal would win it, although neither side looked like scoring. Not for the first time, we were sorely missing Ben Whitfield and Aaron Nemane.
With 10 minutes remaining, however, Danny Wright provided a rare moment of quality. Adam Randell played a low pass into the box from the right which Wright pounced upon and drilled the ball into the net. He was in the right place at the right time and showed why he’s so valuable.
Despite needing to chase the game in the dying minutes, Woking didn’t (or couldn’t) step it up a gear. The match fizzled out without much fanfare and Wright’s solitary goal proved to be all that was needed.
Lucas Covolan 7 – It might seem odd to give the goalkeeper the joint highest rating in a game where there wasn’t much to do. However, Covolan provided a sense of security at the back, more so than in the past when I’ve seen him between the sticks. He’s quick to throw the ball out to start an attack and his save to prevent a certain goal from a free-kick was very well done.
Ben Wynter 5 – Gave away a few too many needless fouls and was guilty of conceding possession too often.
Ryan Law 6 – Coped with what Woking threw at him well, limited though it was. He looked more of a threat going forward than Wynter, though the partnership between himself and Little was practically non-existent compared to what he and Andrews produced against Solihull.
Sam Sherring 6 – A more or less sedate afternoon for Sherring who by and large could relax and soak up some of the sunshine. He’ll have a busier time against Wrexham you’d think.
Joe Lewis 6 – As with Sherring, Lewis didn’t have much to do against a lacklustre attacking effort. I’m still none the wiser as to how he didn’t bury it when Andrews delivered a delicious corner which was crying out for him to head the ball into the back of the net.
Asa Hall 5 – A largely ineffective game for the skipper similar to the rest of the midfield. Hall was busy at both ends of the pitch but he didn’t command the game as we know he can.
Adam Randell 6 – He’s not a winger but Randell gets an extra point for providing the assist for Wright’s goal. It was a moment of quality that we’d otherwise lacked all afternoon.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans 5 – Not much came off for him and he struggled to make much of an impact.
Armani Little 4 – Unfortunately a very poor performance from Armani, playing out of position on the left wing. It’s something he’s clearly not suited to and as a result we offered very little threat from the left. He was excellent against Solihull the other week and we know the ability is there but there were just too many mistakes during this game.
Scott Boden 5 – Had a chance out of nowhere in the first half when the ball was played into him and he shot on the turn, but the chance went just wide. Boden didn’t make much of an impact apart from that and was subbed off for Wright after 53 minutes.
Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka 6 – A very tricky player who exuded confidence, he held the ball up well, with the much larger Woking defenders sometimes unable to claw it away from him. Faded in the second half but to be fair, he had zero service from the rest of the team.
Danny Wright 7 – MoTM (see below)
Jake Andrews 6 – Came on after 67 minutes for Little which was about 67 minutes too late. Andrews carrying a knock training perhaps that prevented him from starting? He didn’t have much impact on the game but did deliver a superb corner which Lewis somehow failed to head into the net. He should start on Monday against Wrexham.
Billy Waters N/A
Man of the Match: Danny Wright
The fact that he’s my man of the match despite only playing 40 minutes in the second half speaks to the lack of quality and cutting edge in the rest of the team. It took Wright a little bit of time to find his feet but he needed no invitation when Randell drilled the ball into the box. Wright was in the right place at the right time, stroking the ball home.
You notice his clever bits of play too, such as when he just gave a Woking player a little nudge on a 50:50 ball that forced the opposition player to concede a throw-in late on, any harder and it could’ve been a free kick to the away side. Delighted that he’s back and looking forward to seeing what he can do with more minutes under his belt.
He’s looked impressive since his return from injury and though it might have been considered harsh to drop MacDonald, Covolan has in my mind done enough to secure the position of first choice goalkeeper. He looks confident in the air and pulled off a good save when he needed to in the second half. Disappointing lack of his trademark timewasting though, maybe that persistent leg injury he gets on 70 minutes has finally cleared up?
With Kimpioka unsurprisingly making his first start, Torquay lined up with a 4-4-2 but with a slightly altered midfield than last time out at Dagenham. Andrews was dropped to the bench while Little shifted from the centre to the left wing. Unfortunately, this meant that we had four centre midfielders on the pitch which made us gave us no attacking thrust out wide. Whitfield and Nemane can’t get back soon enough.
We all know what to expect from Woking by now: strength and physicality in abundance. This really was all they had, with nothing to speak of going forward so it’s not hard to see why they’re down there in the bowels of the division. However, they knew how to counter what little threat we possessed, regrouping quickly when they lost the ball and getting as many men back as possible.
The whistle was never far from the referee’s lips with a lot of niggly little fouls. On another day, Woking could’ve had a man sent off for a late two-footed tackle on Randell but only a yellow card was shown. He gave Kimpioka the Umerah treatment, penalising him for 50:50 balls, even one when he maintained possession and the Woking player tackling him went down. A bit odd.
A win is always welcome and with Sutton dropping points, we’re that bit closer to the top again. However, we shouldn’t let the three points mask the performance, it was pretty woeful for large periods of the game and but for the one moment of quality from Randell and Wright, it would’ve ended as a bore draw.
We lacked any sort of threat going forward, which is always going to happen to an extent when there are four central midfielders playing, but that doesn’t make up for the misplaced passes and general dearth of quality on show. Woking are a poor side who are dealing with their own share of injury problems, thankfully they were almost as ineffective in attack as we were. One would imagine Wrexham will have a bit more about them on Monday, let’s hope that we’re up to the challenge.