12 days since by last blog and after being foolish enough to all but write off the Gulls title chances, it is back on! In my defence, I think most Gulls supporters were sharing my sentiments, as a rather toothless United lost meekly at Dagenham & Redbridge. On the bright side I never doubted our ability to bounce back, but grinding out win after win as Sutton stuttered didn’t seem likely. But here we are. Five wins out of the last six gives the indication of a team on top form. In reality it’s a team battling for every point they can get and through sheer will, dragging themselves back into the race for automatic promotion. Don’t tell me this side doesn’t have character, it’s got plenty. Onwards to the talking points for Weymouth (h).
1 – THE LATE LATE SHOW
These guys don’t know when to give up! Torquay United 2020-21 have now scored past the 80th minute in 15 out of their 32 National League matches. It’s a quite astonishing stat and a testament to the mental strength and fitness of the lads. Add to that the willingness of Gary Johnson to push the Yellows forward and make something happen in the closing minutes, and you’ve got a deadly combination. It’s a habit that the best teams usually have (Fergie time anyone!), and mentally you can just feel like something is going happen. On the flipside we’ve had numerous teams whose habit is conceding late goals (in-swinging set piece normally!), the same applies…good or bad.
2 – SET PIECES
Football has changed over the years, but one thing that remains at all levels is the importance of set pieces. Even the greatest teams such as World Cup/Euro winners France and Spain relied on occasional set piece winners to help them progress: set pieces matter. Against Weymouth the delivery into the box improved (much like United) as the game went on. Simple really…beat the first man and keep the ball away from the goalkeeper! But it’s not that simple and it was brilliant to see Jake Andrews take charge of corners during the second half, and find the head of CLE for the winner. We’re not a team good enough to thrash teams at the moment, so the fine margins of a solid set piece matter. Another sweet delivery on Tuesday night could be the most important of the season.
3 – DANNY WRIGHT’S THE WRONGS
Dave Thomas clearly loves an old fashioned target man, as his joy at Danny’s work on Saturday was audible throughout. The credit was certainly due as Danny had a really strong game upfront. With his fitness and sharpness improving, he was able to hold off defenders, cleverly win free kicks and bring the others into play. So many attacks involved some basic looking interplay from the striker, but this isn’t basic – it’s experience, technique and knowhow. The only disappointing thing for Wright was the lack of a goal that his play deserved. For his all round play that is instantly forgiven.
TT POLL – Who’s your MOTM for yesterday? #tufc (Comment below for someone else!)
Hands up I have struggled this season to see where Jake Andrews fits into this TUFC squad. The talent in that left foot is there, I’ve never doubted that. But too often I’ve been unimpressed by what he’s brought to the pitch in terms of determination and fire. We’ve all needed to see better and now maybe we are onto something! It’s of course helped that Jake has found himself back on the wing, but overall his work rate has improved and that has allowed his quality to shine through. We’ve already talked set pieces, but the left foot banger that found United the equaliser just arrowed sweetly into the corner. A proper moment of magic that was key to us salvaging all three points. Well done Jake.
5 – CREDIT TO THE TERRAS
Weymouth FC are a part time team, with very little to play for this season, so I’d like to give them some credit for the positive way they approached the game, and how close they almost came to taking away a share of the spoils. Brian Stock has done a good job there, and with some decent additions they could do well next season. I’ve certainly seen a number of teams worse than them and they’ll feel hard done by not taking any points from the two matches with United.
6 – LEMON-AID
One of Gary Johnson’s main conundrums in 2021 has been helping CLE regain his sparkling form from before the New Year. I think we are getting there! All throughout this period the midfield has kept trying and is always full of the right intentions, but with key team mates missing and opposition marking getting tighter, the Lemon just couldn’t get going (despite GJ’s best prompting). Scoring that late goal with an unlikely header will help (what a leap!), but Connor had already been purposeful and neat with the ball. A return to form just in time? I should coco. Sutton here we come.