TT 2020/21 Squad Review: Goalkeepers and Defenders

TT 2020/21 Squad Review

Matt_Hayward

Matty Hayward – @MattyHayward96

It has been, in many ways, a season of three thirds. The Gulls flew out of the blocks playing fluid and aggressive football, a period which saw us score nine away goals in a week, then putting five past League Two Crawley the following weekend. Then came the post-festive hangover; the turgidness; the tinkering; the desperate, fruitless scrabble for a centre-forward who was both post-pubescent and able to hold the ball up. Then the resurgence, built less on fluidity and more on solidity – including a spell where we conceded once in eight – depending less on dynamic wing-play, more on a resolute backline and injury-time heroics.  

To summarise the performances of our goalkeepers and defenders across a season of such undulation is not easy – they’ve all been mostly good but sometimes not so good – but we’ll give it a go. 

Goalkeepers  

Lucas Covolan: 7 

One constant across the last two seasons has been the tiresome, circular debate about goalkeepers, not helped in the least by Gary Johnson’s own indecision on the subject. The Gaffer appears to have finally settled on Covolan as his number one following the Gulls’ humbling at Maidenhead, and in his most recent spell in the team the Brazilian has performed pretty well. While not averse to a nearly-calamitous bit of footwork, his goalkeeping has been generally good and his contribution to the run of clean-sheets should not go unrecognised. Made a fantastic save at Stockport, but also could have done better dealing with their corner. That pretty much sums up his season, but I trust him to be our man as the play-offs approach. 

League appearances: 24, Clean Sheets: 11, Goals Conceded: 17 

Shaun MacDonald: 6.5

The victim of Covolan’s recent success. Without wishing to engage too much in “the debate”, Mac is clearly around as good as Cov, and is obviously good enough to be a first-choice ‘keeper in this league. His season hasn’t been without mistake – and his own eagerness to impress is sometimes expressed as rashness, like at Weymouth – but most of his performances were generally solid and if we end up with success this season he’ll have earned his seat on the open-top bus as much as anyone else. He also absolutely didn’t deserve to be dropped after the Maidenhead game – he was the only player who came away with any credit at all – so can feel relatively hard-done-by at how the season has turned out. 

League appearances: 19, Clean Sheets: 6, Goals Conceded: 21 

Miscellaneous: James Hamon and Marcin Brzozowski 

Five minutes at Solihull and an unconvincing showing at Woking in the Trophy respectively. Bit of a laugh though, eh? Get ’em on the bus! 

Defenders 

Ben Wynter: 7.5 

Ben Wynter is really quite a good right back at this level. Though he excels at very little – he’s not a fantastic one-on-one defender; his positioning isn’t great; he’s not aerially dominant; he’s not especially quick; he doesn’t pose an enormous threat going forward – his season and probably his career will be defined by being pretty good at all of those things. The one obvious, match-costing mistake at Dagenham is far outweighed by the number of games he went unnoticed by being solid, faultless, error-free. And, as we know so well, he knows his way around a penalty area too. Another injury-time goal at home to Notts County wouldn’t go amiss later this month. 

League appearances: 31, Clean Sheets: 12, Goals: 2 

Sam Sherring: 8 

Sam Sherring has made as many starts as anyone for Torquay this season, and has been one of our most consistent performers. There’s nothing flash about him – in fact, the only times his ability has been doubted are when he’s tried to be too clever on the ball and has gifted chances to opponents with unforced errors – but he does what he does very well. That there’s very little to say about the Bournemouth loanee says plenty about him: a quiet, steady performer who gets on with his job and rightly goes under-the-radar as good defenders in good teams should. Plus, his goal at Wrexham was arguably the best in a very crowded field of late late winners. 

League appearances: 43, Clean Sheets: 17, Goals: 3 

Kyle Cameron: 8 

I’m old enough to remember when Kyle Cameron was a defender. A pretty good one, too. Like so many of our first-teamers, he would’ve been in the running for player of the season if an injury hadn’t scuppered his progress. He’s good in the air, he’s developed a very attractive habit of bringing the ball out of defence and charging at surprised opposition midfielders, and has led the side well when called upon. His best season in a Yellow shirt, and a potential unlikely hero in the playoffs if his centre-forward experiment is continued. 

 League appearances: 27, Clean sheets: 7, Goals: 4 

Joe Lewis: 8 

Without meaning to sound like a broken record, Joe Lewis is another good, young centre back, and there really isn’t much else to say. Probably our best signing this season, Lewis was thrust straight into the action for Sutton (h) where he played at right back and kept The U’s’ lively wingers largely quiet throughout. Much like in his first spell at Plainmoor, he’s been shunted from defensive pillar to defensive post but, while never looking entirely comfortably anywhere other than as a centre back, the Welshman has performed every role to a high standard. He’ll make an important player for us next season regardless of what league we’re in, and is only going to improve. 

League appearances: 23, Clean sheets: 11, Goals: 0  

Thomas Lang SUtton Lewis
Photo Courtesy of Thomas Lang

Gary Warren: 6 

We probably don’t see most of what Gary Warren contributes to this team. He’s probably been more useful off the pitch and behind the scenes than he has on the pitch in his seven league starts. The former Grecian was brought in as an experienced shepherd for the aforementioned younger defenders and it’s fair to infer that he’s been part of their improvements. On the pitch, he’s done alright but hampered by a combination of injury and being born closer to the end of rationing than now have meant he’s looked quite cranky and off-the-pace in many of his rare appearances.  

League appearances: 17, Clean sheets: 3, Goals 1 

Dean Moxey: 8 

Remember “player cam” on Sky Sports, where you used to be able to track the movements of one player? Well, when you go to a game live, you can choose to do that whenever you want for whoever you want, and in the first half of Barnet (h) I spent a good fifteen minutes focussing on Dean Moxey. It’ll come as no surprise that my conclusion was that he’s very good at football. The guy is so intelligent on the ball and his feet are as good as anyone’s in the squad. What he lacks in pace and fitness, he makes up for in natural ability and nous. He’s had the occasional off-day this season, but they’ve been far surpassed by the number of games he’s excelled in, and has been sorely missed when injuries and suspensions have caught up with him. Will be key in the playoffs, especially if he can resist getting sent off. 

League appearances: 23, Clean sheets: 10, Goals: 0 

Ryan Law: 6 

After a really bad first game and a half, Ryan Law turned into a fairly functional left back. He was certainly an improvement on Jake Andrews’ makeshift shift in there, but nowhere near as good as Moxey, which is obviously to be expected. I seem to remember him being excellent at home to Solihull, so well done for that. 

League appearances: 8, Clean sheets: 4, Goals: 0 

Fraser Kerr: N/A 

I have literally zero recollection of him playing for us. He was presumably fine, because I don’t remember any catastrophes, but also not good enough to be memorable. It is now a factual inevitability that he’ll score for his new side Chesterfield against us in the playoff semi.  

League appearances: 7, Clean sheets: 1, Goals: 0. 

COYY – Matty

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