TT MATCH VERDICT: Torquay 2-2 Barnet – 22nd May 2021

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Matty Orton – @MattyOrton1

Match Summary

So then this was it, the game where fans returned. The game where we needed to go out and score as many goals as we can against lowly Barnet, and then all the pressure will be on Sutton tomorrow. For a cruel 25 minutes you’d be forgiven if you were thinking that was going to be the case. It looked that way. But it wasn’t.

United found themselves under the cosh for the first 10, but somehow, after 23 minutes, found themselves two goals to the good.

The opener came from nice move down the right hand side, with Ben Wynter driving the ball forward. Randell then passed into Wynter who crossed, Boden dummied, the ball rolled to Andrews who hung back, measured his shot and swept it home with his right foot for his 5th goal of the season.

Lemonheigh-Evans immediately retrieved the ball from the net and there was little to no celebration from the lads which showed the mind-set they were in.

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However, in the intervening time between the first and second goal Barnet looked dangerous. They found their 4th corner after only 17 minutes and only a Randell diving header off the line spared them an equaliser. They were looking to move forward into United territory, and were doing so quite successfully.  

United had looked a bit flustered to say the least and Barnet seemed to be in a plucky sort of mood. United had finally closed down and cleared their lines quickly, and a long, raking, diagonal ball from Armani Little put the Barnet defence under all sorts of pressure. Lemonheigh-Evans latched on to it, the keeper forced him wide and down but he got back up, carried the ball wider still and slotted home for 2-0 in the 24th minute.

This was it, it was happening, 2-0 up in under half an hour against a side who had just shipped their 88th goal this season, ‘the  GD’ was down to 4 and we had well over an hour to try get it down further. The messages were starting to pile in and a general sense of belief was manifesting itself that we could actually do this! Could we?

Of course we f***king couldn’t! In what was, quintessentially Torquay United fashion, from that point on, it went to sh*t!

After forcing a couple more corners Barnet were gifted their first goal 8 minutes before Half Time with a Michael Petrasso penalty. Sam Sherring brought down Harry Taylor and Petrasso picked out the bottom corner from the spot, even though Covolan went the right way.

In the presiding minutes Kyle Cameron came on for Sherring who, be it physically, or mentally, just ‘wasn’t right’. Lewis was then booked for a mistimed tackle and Moxey was seen to be signalling to the bench that he possibly had a problem. It was a melange of incongruous defending in the space of about 10 minutes which more of less saw us implode.

An Asa Hall header well saved at least meant we ended the 1st half with an attempt on goal, but it was Gary Johnson with the most work to do in the half time team talks. It was the half time bollocking that fans trusted their hopes in. This was to no avail.

We weren’t exactly austere for the first 15 minutes of the second half and just seemed to lay low for a bit.

We had already been warned by Themis Kefalas in the first half. He was the creater of the header off the line and had put one just wide as well from a set piece, but in the second half on 54 minutes it was his header from Sam Skeffington’s free kick that made it 2-2.

We then just huffed and puffed and for all our effort Barnet ended up with more shots on target in the 2nd half.

We created a few more chances, but just didn’t seem to be able to test out in Parkes enough in the Barnet goal and so it ended, 2-2.

Player Ratings

Lucas Covolan 6 –  Played his part in what way he could. A couple of big paws to deny Barnet any more than what they got, possibly sparing our blushes a bit.

Dean Moxey 5 – Moxey appeared to be signalling to subs bench just before the end of the first half in what has now become a ‘he could croak it any second…nope he’s alright’ scenario. I think he looked a bit tired today and despite the quality he has also resorted to lumping it at times. Despite that I’ll still be happy with him carrying his experience into the playoffs for us.

Sam Sherring 4 – Sixes and Sevens (not the rating). Uncharacteristically we were looked shot in defence today. Joe is a very young committed defender and he’s been a very good signing but he looked probably the most nervous of all of them at the back there and a was substituted before half time.

Joe Lewis 5 – Sam and Joe have both been magnificent as a pairing for us this season and are both still very young players. Harness a poor performance because poor performances happen in football, and take from it what you can. I’m absolutely sure this performance can and will be remedied.

Ben Wynter 6 –  Probably the only defender who came out of it unscathed and was involved in the build up to the first goal. Unfortunately he gets put into the ‘collective’ category of defensive self destruction.

Jake Andrews 6 – I felt it was very much a distinct difference between our defence and forward players today in terms of performance. Jake scored a lovely goal with a sweeping right foot which is not often you can say that for the Plainmoor De-Bruyne. A couple of nice efforts from set pieces and some danger posed from corners.

Asa Hall 6 –  Asa has games where he can be the most influential player on the field and where it can feel like he picks up every loose ball. Today that wasn’t the case and was probably found trying to make up for our defensive ineptitude.

Armani Little 5 – His long diagonal ball for the second goal was absolutely sublime but a free kick that ended up down St Marychurch Road somewhere and finishing the game sat in the dugout with an ice pack on his thigh summed the afternoon up for him.

Adam Randell 6 –  Another good game from Adam, he’s been an excellent, consistent player for us this season and I’ll be sorry to see him go once this season is all over.

Connor Lemonheigh-Evans 7 –  See MOTM.

Scott Boden 5 – Scott was holding the ball up nicely at times and managed to lay off and pass some nice balls out wide. Unfortunately Barnet got their two goals whilst he was on the pitch so it was him that gave way to try and change the game. The problem being, once again, that we never really felt like scoring once he’d left the pitch.

Subs

Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka 4Was the denied the freedom to run at the opposition so credit to Barnet but I also think his confidence could be shot at the moment. He scores that against Bromley followed up with his chance at Stockport and we would be looking now at a very different player right now.

Billy Waters 5 – He was stifled and failed to impose any of his effectiveness that we’ve seen of late into the game.

Kyle Cameron 5 – Unfortunately Cam is a defender and is also lumped into that category today.

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Do you agree with Matty’s ratings? Have your say here.

Man of the Match – Connor Lemonheigh – Evans

Despite a disappointing result Connor just about edged it. It was a toss up between Connor and Adam Randell.

Key Moment

The penalty. We rattled ourselves and it was so unnecessary and needless. The residing 10 minutes  threw the afternoon we had planned completely off course and from thereon in it was a relative breakdown in proceedings.

Tactics

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A ‘collective nervous breakdown in defence’. We have dealt with and weathered far more difficult problems than what Barnet posed us as an opposition. Tactically at the back we self imploded and it was almost completely our own undoing

At times we used the wind, with high hanging balls into the box. Barnet were bigger and stronger at the back so it was a bit of a lost cause as we didn’t have that type centre forward to get on the end of them.

We failed to really test Adam Parkes in the second half and consequently Barnet had four near misses as oppose to our lack of deluge on the opposition goal.

Tactically we needed to concentrate on making our own chances, at times we very pedestrian and it was like we were hoping that one would come along which was frustrating, because we have the types of players that can score goals and win you games. Tactically did we get it wrong? Possibly yes.

The Opposition

Time wasters. Although Barnet weren’t the lowly down and out side that their league position suggests. Mason Clark put in a very good shift, in-fact you could absolutely say that for any of the Barnet players who I though had a terrific afternoon. Richards-Everton was winning everything that Kimpioka was trying to fight for. It really did affect the game, because it enabled Barnet to sit deep, and by doing so there was absolutely no defence and no room for Kimpioka to run into. That’s what he does best, he wants to be facing the opposition but he was denied.

Again on more than one occasion Moxey’s throw in’s from the left that were level with the edge of the penalty area were failing to be flicked on as the big figure of Richard Everton was batting away everything that was being thrown at him.

We failed to try and put some passing moves together and then get a shot away, instead we resorted to just throwing the ball into the Barnet goalmouth which proved to be very limited and to no avail.

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The Officials

The referee seemed to go through a phase of brandishing yellow cards for almost every challenge at one point. Which made me think we could perhaps play into that a little later in the game, although when it came to time wasting he didn’t seem that bothered as Barnet were more than happy to run down the clock. A couple of questionable decisions but nothing really that influenced the game majorly. The penalty was given to him on a plate and it was a case of blowing the whistle and pointing to the spot.

Conclusion

We needed to concentrate on our own game and make our chances but we didn’t. The frustrating thing was we have players that can do just that. A bit more quality and the game would have been won, but we resorted to just launching it. Compound that with the defensive calamities in the first half and that was what really killed us.

Barnet did not arrive to lie down by any stretch of the imagination and we can only hope that they perform something like that next Saturday against Sutton.

The performance at Stockport last week was such a contrast, the way we controlled our game and the way we looked like the team we know we are. We had that verve and intensity; we looked confident and co-ordinated. Everything we were not this afternoon. We had some glimpses of some outstanding moves especially which led to our goals, but instead it was a mixed up jittery performance with some very erratic passages of play.

You could easily suggest that some of best performances have been away from home this season and for me, they have. The disappointment is by far and away is the fact we have dropped too many points at home. That for me has been the difference between getting ourselves over the line and coming up just short of it. Our away form has been remarkable, but it’s those frivolous points given away at home to Altrincham, Wealdstone, Halifax, Dagenham (I’m sure there’s more) and now Barnet, those types of games are the ones that have absolutely killed us.

There is however a silver lining, and it’s the fact that we will now mathematically finish in the top 3.

So we have, at least all but consolidated 2nd place this season in the National League. For the contingency that felt that deserved a few boo’s yesterday, they need to seriously sit down and have a conversation with themselves.

Imagine booing after the 97th minute equaliser against Notts, imagine booing after the 98th minute winner against Aldershot? These group of lads have been outstanding this season and although we haven’t been there first hand to witness it all the way give them what they deserve. The last thing we need in a playoff situation is those few jeering and moaning and every missed placed pass or over analysing every passage of play.

For all the ‘Bleddy E’ll!’ contingency going into the playoffs, it’s very, very simple, get behind the lads!

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