TT TALKING POINTS
Harry Lovering – @HLovering1999
Harry discusses talking points from the games versus Poole and Truro
The new season has sprung upon us again, after what seemed like only days away from United action (despite it being just over a month!). I can still officially say I haven’t yet got over the ordeal of that penalty shoot-out at Ashton Gate back in June, but I am sure once the National League season starts, I will begin to move on – as we all must at some point! After all, a new season brings different twists and tales.
As the pre-season fixtures are announced you look upon them and see the traditional local lower league games such as Poole, Truro and Tivvy, alongside of course the ‘big one’ against Argyle and you cannot help but get excited- well, I can’t anyway! Pre-season is never the most enthralling, but it gives supporters a chance to see how the new lads gel with some of last years’ cohort and a chance for us to see our ‘football family’ all together once more. However, this pre-season felt somewhat more exciting to previous ones, addressing the obvious elephant in the room that was Covid hindering our ability to attend them last season! Being able to go on the travel club to Poole and being back on the back step together on the Popside certainly felt like something special!
6 Talking Points from Poole Town (A) and Truro City (H)
1 – The return of football as we know it
Firstly, how can I not address how amazing it feels to be back at football again from the start of pre-season knowing (fingers crossed) this season should be as normal as it could possibly be regarding fans attending matches. Covid pulled us apart, but the TUFC ‘football family’ are back together again after 18 long and hard months.
Poole away was a great day out, with the travel club putting on a mini coach to attend the game. The social aspect to the travel club is something which lots of us have missed and it felt so good to be back amongst it again. Twelve of us went for a meal at a local pub which is what we always previously did to begin a new season. It wasn’t just the travel club either, it was also meeting people you hadn’t spoken to in years at the ground. Being able to freely walk around the ground in pre-season speaking to other Torquay fans is a nice way to begin the season, catching up with fans who in this case I hadn’t seen in years (all be it some were only since the play off final).
I always like pre-season games because you can have a more interactive chat with Gary and the team before kick-off. We had a nice chat with Gary and his brother (Pete), after they thanked us for coming up to Dorset for the game. There was just enough time to lap up some Dorset sunshine during the game which was certainly better weather than the forecast of heavy showers had predicted, so a pleasant surprise! It was a decent game with a stronger second half and two well worked ‘Torquay-esque’ goals to end a very good day out on the South coast.
‘Plainmoor…the big return’, is certainly what it felt like the minute Torquay posted online that the yellow army would be able to return to Plainmoor with no restrictions on movement or capacity against Truro on Tuesday night. The game itself wasn’t the finest spectacle Torquay have put on for us in recent times, but we must understand this team are only just beginning to gel together and there is a whole lot more to come from these group of lads, as Gary pointed out in his post-match interview.
Even so, a 3-0 win with 3 cracking goals and another clean sheet is something to be happy about! However, the best part of last night was being back up together on the back step of the Popside. It was nice to see the food kiosks back in business as well; I got my traditional bacon roll and sweets which was needed after rushing up from Ivybridge at half 6, due to coaching football just before! Some normality is thankfully returning…
2 – The two new goalkeepers
I have been impressed with the glimpses I have seen from both keepers so far. As with Mac and Cov, there will be some healthy competition for that number 1 spot. Martin Brzozowski (I am so happy I can pronounce that name!) is a good shot stopper, proven many times so far against Woking last season and Truro last night. His kicking and distribution off the ground could do with some work but that will come I am sure! Mark Halstead, however, has what seems to be very good distribution which caused Poole a few problems on Saturday. He was sharp off his line and well positioned to save a few stinging headers from corners and shots through on goal. Both keepers appear to command their box well from corners which is something that will stand us in good (Hal)stead for next season… yes, that was my crack at a joke!
3 – Enthusiastic Omar!
Omar has certainly been ‘Torquay-fied’ after only just a few weeks at the club! His interview backs up just what he is like on the pitch and isn’t it amazing to see! His attitude both on and off the pitch is fantastic, alongside him being a ‘kid in a candy shop’ to wanting to be out on that pitch every second of every day pleasing the fans. I have already seen a bit of his ability on the pitch, he certainly doesn’t mess about in the air and his leadership qualities are apparent from the get-go. This is a man who will give us 110% every week and is passionate about our club, and now all that’s needed is a chant to go with it – welcome Ali!
4 – Don’t mess with Lapslie!
This was an incredible signing in my book, and he is certainly living up to expectations from what I have seen of him in those first 2 (well, 1 and ½ games). He is a real tenacious central midfielder and reminds me somewhat of a more mobile Asa Hall (sorry Asa, you have other amazing qualities!). He doesn’t mind putting in a crunching tackle or two (or ten) in a game, consequently resulting in him getting injured on Tuesday night. He can also pick out a long-range cross field pass to a tee and make those shorter, simple passes if required. I will look forward to seeing more of him against better opposition and hopefully his injury isn’t anything too serious!
5 – Lively Lolos and Keen Keelan
These are two newbies who clearly like to have the ball at their feet and do not shy away from the action. They are filled with confidence, despite being two very different players, but they also have similar attributes in being very direct and skilful. Lolos will hopefully work well with Danny (Wright) up top this season and there were small glimpses of that against both Poole and Truro. As good as Lolos is with his feet, I’d like to see a bit more composure in front of goal (missing many against Poole) and perhaps some better hold up play but I’m sure that will come. Two goals for him to start pre-season isn’t bad and one of real composure, whilst the other is a typical poacher’s effort- good to see! Keelan O’Connell seemed pacey and sharp down the wing against Poole which is something we’ve been crying out for recently – some width! A good headache to have for Gary regarding formations and tactics this season…
6 – Promising signs from the youth players
Finally, and last but not least, is the promising signs from the youth players. It’s been good to see how the young lads cope with men’s football against some decent opposition, but I think all 4 have shown they are able to withstand the strength and tempo of games. Slough and Olaf have obviously been with us a bit longer, with Scott and Alex having been given their first pro deals only a few weeks ago.
Olaf had an excellent game against Poole, scoring a good goal and being strong and fast on the ball. He has certainly been in the gym that’s for sure! Maybe, just maybe, this is his season that he breaks through to more regular first team football. Slough seemed solid at the back against Poole and Truro and seems confident in the air and with his feet (making one slight mistake misjudging a header over the top against Poole- expected, especially at his age!). That goal must have been a proud moment for him and his family watching on, and what a header it was!
Alex and Scott both appear ready for men’s football, and after Gary had a moan at Scott (Piper) for misplacing a cross due to nerves, his game from then on was smooth and composed. He was quick down the wing and cut inside on many occasions slotting passes through to the front men. Crossing is also clearly a big part of his game, with a few good deliveries to the far post against Poole. Alex (Moyse) also seems to have some ability. A grafter in the CDM role, he wins challenges and gets the team going forward in a positive and developed way. I look forward to seeing these young lads develop as the season progresses.
As we move on with pre-season, going into the Argyle game on Saturday, new and harder tests will come for this team, and we will be able to judge how ready we are going into the new National League season. But one thing is for sure, Gary knows what he is doing, and he will have a squad ready that’s capable of winning this league come the 21st August.
This season will certainly be a lot more normal than last, and we now have the chance once more to cheer on the team from the terraces rather than from our front rooms. Let’s make the most of it and make up for lost time by creating a cracking atmosphere when we welcome Altrincham to Plainmoor in a few weeks time.
Just a final note to say the Torquay United Travel Club are back in business for this season and we look forward to welcoming back fans, alongside welcoming new fans to our away trips. We have recently gone up-market and purchased new membership cards for 21-22, alongside creating a new logo (below) and improving our social media channels. So, if you want a fun day out following the Gulls, book on with us this season.