Match Verdict – Rob Dand
In his preview blog this week, TT Editor Dom asked for something “a bit more comfortable” tonight than relying on a 98th minute goal from our right-back to secure a result. I mean, technically, he got his wish – 97 is a smaller number than 98 – but in true TUFC style, the last ten minutes were once again about as comfortable as taking a nap in a wheelie bin.
United started very brightly, with Waters rushing in on goal in less time than it takes for the average human to successfully get this damn livestream to work in Full Screen mode. Unfortunately, he lost his footing just as he was about to hold the R1 button and his shot was tampered with.
United started directly, and controlled most of the first 15 minutes quite comfortably, with some good interplay between Boden and the lively Billy Waters resulting in some inviting balls that never quite reached their man. For a few brief minutes, it was like watching the vintage United of late 2020. Clear-cut opportunities eluded them, however, until the 11th minute. Waters combined with Adam Randell over on the right, and his left-footed cross found Asa Hall lurking with intent by the penalty spot – as he does – ready to guide home a satisfying right-footed volley. 1-0 to the Gulls.
United fans were allowed roughly five minutes of positive thoughts before a routine Aldershot free-kick brought us crashing down to earth. A speculative long ball was directed towards the penalty area, and although the Torquay defence stood bravely nearby and tried very hard to put him off with their best hard stares, Kodi Lyons-Foster rose through the melee to completely bamboozle Lucas Covolan (who was the opposite of on-rushing) by heading the ball towards the general direction of the goal, and making it 1-1. It was a header so delicate that Anne Boleyn could have nodded it home (for millennials: the joke here is that she used to have a head, and then for a very brief but significant moment, did not have a head).
The first half got progressively more frustrating. Several attacks from the Gulls petered out after one (or five) too many touches, and on 38 minutes anyone playing Yellows Bingo would have shouted a rather loud ‘House’ when Joe Lewis went down holding a muscle after a virtually unchallenged clearance that he had to vaguely stretch for. He attempted to walk it off, presumably because the sight of Kai Hepworth putting on his facemask and tying up his Translucent Robe of Death has not meant good news for any United casualty this year. His inevitable replacement, Gary Warren, came on at the end of a first half that did not end at the same pace it had began.
The onus appeared to be on United to make something happen during the early exchanges in the second half, with Aldershot happy enough to sit back and frustrate the home side.
It looked for all the world like we just didn’t have it in us to grab a second, and so when the chance of a late penalty presented itself, it felt very much like we were being given an opportunity to make amends for the pedestrian way in which we had gifted our vistors the equaliser earlier on. CLE got his fairly harmless shot away but was then accosted by the over-amorous Shots goalkeeper, who brought him down and after some deliberation the ref pointed to the spot.
In truth, it would have been quite a harsh penalty, and if we’d have been on the other end of it I’d have been pretty miffed to have seen it given. After a quick catch-up with the linesman over tea and biscuits, the referee decided to just pretend the whole thing never happened and cruelly snatched the penalty away.
It seemed at this point that I was destined to write a match report all about a frankly flaccid equaliser, yet another innocuous yet probable career-ending injury and a disappointing non-penalty. But alas, no! Adam Randell knew this, and thought it sounded pretty boring, so he decided to whip another cross into the penalty area for Scott Boden to deftly steer home. A proper number 9 (/ 19)’s header, which would have rightly sent Plainmoor into a frenzy. Many of the Aldershot players even sunk crestfallen to the floor like people do in the movies when they’ve just received bad news about a family member or stood on some Lego. 2-1 to the mighty Gulls.
Covolan 6.5 – Didn’t have a lot to do, possibly could have reacted better for their goal.
Wynter 6.5 – Out of position a couple of times, as he is wont to do, but other than that was constantly offering an option going forward.
Sherring 6.5 – Went for a short city-break around the time Aldershot scored their painful equaliser. Looked fairly comfortable apart from that.
Lewis 6.5 – See above. Injured just before half time, hopefully nothing serious with the run of games we have on the horizon.
Moxey 7 – Couple of really good balls early on and looked solid enough defensively. Offers us quite a lot both going forward and coming back.
Randell 8 – Best player in yellow. Two assists and plenty of running – and he’s not even a winger.
CLE 7 – Some good movement, as ever, but occasionally guilty of taking that extra touch and overseeing the dissolution of an attack.
Hall 6 – Great technique for the goal but not his best performance in the centre today, gave the ball away a couple of times and directed a couple of tame headers goalwards.
Andrews 6.5 – Some ineffectual set pieces but has an eye for a pass. Good when it comes off. Got himself booked late on for doing standard Jake Andrews things.
Waters 7 – Probably wouldn’t have taken him off to be honest, looked like he could have run forever. Definitely should have put his early chance away though.
Boden 6.5 – Started well but then went missing for about 75 minutes before popping up to do exactly what he’s here to do. Not a performance full of highlights but a great header when it mattered (+0.5 for that).
Warren 6.5 – Good to see him back. Looked composed and in control at the back. Forced a save after a clever (or possibly accidental) improvised flick.
Olaf N/A – A whopping two minutes of normal time isn’t really enough to make a judgement.
Tomlinson 6 – Had a decent effort saved by the keeper after cutting in from the right, drifted out of position a few times in search for the ball but wasn’t really given a lot of opportunities to show what he can offer.
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Man of the Match – Adam Randell
A very positive and adaptable player who will undoubtedly go on to have a very good career – most likely not with Torquay.
Within the context of the madness of the last five minutes, well done to Scott Boden for managing to regain his composure and focus, and put himself back in the right position to get on the end of Randell’s cross for the winner.
Well by law this has to be Boden’s goal, doesn’t it? What’s more key than a 97th minute winner? I’m not sure I can take all this late drama but at least it’s gone in our favour lately, and it shows not just other teams but the players themselves as well, that Torquay will keep going right until the end in every single game. What an important message that is, in a league so tight.
We started in a 4-4-2, which is probably the right way to be without DW up top. Waters and Boden worked well together early on, and clearly possess different skillsets, so there is potential there perhaps. Switched to a 4-5-1 of sorts when Waters came off, with CLE sat behind Boden and Randell adopting a more central position.
We were a little sloppy in possession at times, and our desire to seemingly always find the difficult pass played into Aldershot’s hands, as they happily sat back and swept up any wayward second balls. A draw would have been flattering given the few clear chances they created.
A fairly low-key if inconsistent 90 minutes of normal time for the referee, with one big decision to make in the penalty area, coming out of nowhere right at the end. I think it would have been a harsh penalty, so perhaps you can say the correct decision was made in the end – but it seemed a little strange that the ref was so willing to take the linesman’s view when he was closest to the incident.
Let Aldershot get away with a bit of time-wasting and some mid-level skulduggery, but to be fair we aren’t angels in that department either.
Pleasingly booked Ricky Miller for attempting to do a lap of honour around the local area before being substituted.
A fairly solid performance all round with a great opening fifteen minutes derailed by one particularly unfortunate lapse in discipline that threatened to make the evening feel like two points lost, rather than one gained.
Two good goals, plenty of late drama and only one potentially upsetting injury. Classic Torquay United: proudly making life difficult for ourselves since 1899.
COYY – Rob