TT MATCH VERDICT – TUFC 5-0 WEALDSTONE, 2nd Oct 2021

TT MATCH VERDICT

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Elliot Milner – @Elliotmilner33

TORQUAY UNITED 5-0 WEALDSTONE FC

MATCH SUMMARY

It’s difficult supporting Torquay, there is no middle ground between a 90+5 minute equaliser in the play-off final from your goalkeeper, and a 5-0 demolition job at home; in a game where your vice-captain attempts a conversion and your centre half scores a screamer from 30 yards out. That being said, it is great to have something to cheer about in the English Riviera, and Gary Johnson’s team definitely pulled out all the stops to bring some sunshine on an overcast afternoon at Plainmoor.

A quick start for the Gulls had them in the driving seat only 11 minutes into the first-half, a chipped ball from Little out wide, paired with a forward dash from Lapslie resulted in an accurate header past the on-rushing keeper. After the restart, Lewis made an emphatic challenge on the Wealdstone forward in the 18-yard box resulting in a corner for the away side. Yet again, showing his importance for the Gulls.

6 minutes later Dan Holman opened his account for the yellows, with the second best goal of the afternoon. An inswinging corner which found the head of Lewis, was knocked down by the defender towards Holman. Who, facing his back to goal at the edge of the box, attempted a cheeky swivel and blasted the ball into the top-right corner of the net. An excellent finish from the experienced talisman. Numerous corners followed for the yellows, although nothing prevailed until a miscleared set-piece arrived at the feet of Moxey on the left hand side of the box, who’s deflected cross landed on the head of Armani Little for him to get his 5th of the season.

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Clearly rattled by the tactical masterclass of Mr. Johnson, Wealdstone made a double substitution only half an hour into the game. Onto the field came the non-league Kante – Matt Buse, who also went unnoticed for the remainder of the 90 minutes. In the 37th minute, Little split the defense open with a through ball to Holman, who took a tumble due to being caught by the calamitous goalkeeping from Wickens in the Wealdstone net. What occurred next was well… a bloody awful penalty and I can just confirm that we have the RNLI still searching for the ball off the shore of Oddicombe Beach as we speak.

From a moment of misery to a moment of magic from the best thing to come out of Wales since Kieffer Moore; Joe Lewis. Unfortunately, my vocabulary is nowhere near as proficient enough to describe what unfolded in the 45+3rd minute, however for the sake of keeping you lovely people happy, I will attempt this said feat. Lewis intercepted a misplaced pass from Stones skipper Cook inside his own half, and then carried the ball half the length of the pitch, finishing in style with a thunderbolt into the top right-hand corner, striking the ball from 25-30 yards out. I was in disbelief. An emotional wreck. I couldn’t conceive what I had just witnessed. Personally, the best goal I have ever witnessed at Plainmoor, closely followed by O’Kane’s effort v Plymouth. It was worth having to purchase my ticket 2 hours in advance, just for that.

The Gulls started the second half slowly, with Lapslie and Holman linking up, leading to a 1 on 1 from Lapslie, which was saved by the Wealdstone keeper. Johnson made a sensible substitution in the 58th minute bringing on Klaidi Lolos for the recently injured Evans. Holman claimed his second of the game in the 68th minute, with a misplaced pass from the keeper landing at the strikers feet at the edge of the box. He cut inside, and placed the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net. Rogers replaced Asa Hall, only a minute after. Holman unselfishly gifted a chance to substitute Lolos in the dying embers of the game, for him to strike it straight at the Wealdstone keeper.

5-0 Torquay, Johnson’s masterplan had been successfully executed and the Yellow Army could return home a little happier than they had arrived.


PLAYER RATINGS

Shaun Macdonald 7 – Calm, disciplined and resolute. There was little for Shaun to do in the first half, and a couple of saves in the second resulted in a tidy clean sheet for the Gulls. On a personal note, I am just happy to see Mark Halstead not in goal, and Shaun’s return looks to have partly rejuvenated the squad.

Keelan O’Connell 7 – Threatening at times, but still a lack of an end product. Worked tirelessly at left wing-back; despite it not being his natural position, I’m not his biggest fan but a tenacious display from the wideman.

Ben Wynter 7 – What more than I need to say, Ben Wynter = Consistency.

Joe Lewis 9 – MOTM. See below.

Dean Moxey 8 – Similar to Lewis, didn’t give Umerah or any of the Wealdstone attackers any space or time, an experienced display from Deano.

Dan Martin 8 – He is quite quick – used his pace effectively and had a few flashes of attacking threat in the second half. Plays better as a wing-back with less defensive responsibility.

Asa Hall 6 – I wasn’t aware he was still playing until he was subbed off for Rogers, he went un-noticed which is a positive, but didn’t provide any impact in the game. Personally, I put this down to the haircut.

Tom Lapslie 8 – What a signing. Following up his dubious goal against Chesterfield, his goal today can definitely be confirmed as his own. He didn’t stop running, and so pleasing to see the runs he was making forward, giving both Little and Evans options constantly throughout the game. His dynamic attacking movement was key to the victory today.

Armani Little 8 – Apart from sending the ball off the Babbacombe Downs a great display from the vice skipper. Astute in the centre of midfield, kept the shape with Evans and Hall excellently and got himself on the scoresheet.

Connor Lemonheigh-Evans 8 – Like Wynter, we have come to expect these performances from Lemons. He made it look effortless in midfield with Little today and the constant movement and clever passes allowed for a more exciting united team to prevail.

Dan Holman 8 – Dan has had a somewhat slow start to the season, and with Danny Wright not in the squad due to injury and Lolos on the bench, this afternoon’s fixture gave him an opportunity to prove the doubters wrong, and show Johnson that bringing him out of retirement wasn’t the wrong call. Really impressive work-rate from the forward and hopefully that’ll get the ball rolling for him this season. Plus, unselfish in the closing seconds of the game, he had opportunities to go for his hat-trick but looked for others around him, which highlighted his experience.

Subs:

Klaidi Lolos 6 – Unselfishly set-up by Holman in the last 10 minutes, but was unable to convert the 1 on 1.

Gabby Rogers 6 – Genuinely think there is a real player in there, bit of a rough diamond who will come good through the nurturing of Gary.

Ali Omar 6 – He was very excited when Holman claimed his second of the afternoon, but didn’t show as much enthusiasm on the pitch.

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MAN OF THE MATCH – Joe Lewis

Joe Lewis is a football league defender, and we are lucky to have him at Plainmoor. He scored the best goal I have ever seen at Plainmoor this afternoon, not only that but he kept an in-form Josh Umerah in his back-pocket for 90 minutes. I think we should appreciate him whilst he is with us, because with performances like today and the consistent displays over the last 12 months that we have become used to, there will be clubs knocking on Gary’s door. But, my oh my –  what a strike.


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THE OFFICIALS

Apart from the obvious penalty award the referee went un-noticed, there was no real fight from Wealdstone which made his job somewhat easier. And in the second-half when the Stones were dead and buried he acknowledged the frustration from the away side; making easy decisions for the yellows.


THE OPPOSITION

It was a disappointing display from Wealdstone. They severely lacked shape in the opening 30 minutes, which is why the changes were made. Their only real chances came from crosses, in which the headers were directed straight to Macdonald. In all honesty, they weren’t great. Josh Umerah and Matt Buse offered very little, but neither did anyone else for the Stones. Wealdstone’s keeper Wickens made several misplaced passes to a yellow shirt, which is worrying if you are a Wealdstone supporter.


TACTICS

It was an alternative of the recently played 3-5-2, with a back 3 of Moxey-Lewis-Wynter and wing-backs of O’Connell and Martin. It worked an absolute treat, we were strong defensively, which I felt we have been for the majority of games this season, and the width of the wing-backs just gave us another attacking option when going forward. The link-up between Lapslie, Little and Lemonheigh-Evans was outstanding and I hope this partnership can continue to evolve over the coming months. The ability for one of them to slip forward or pull out wide created space in the middle and allowed for the wing-backs to be more effective.

For me it is pleasing to score goals, I was worried prior to this week that we would struggle to score goals with the lack of pace and penetration we have had this season, but giving less defensive responsibility to these young wing-backs seemed to allow them to have the confidence to go forward and be more expressive. Holman looked well-established upfront on his own, and I think that may be the way forward for Gary Johnson’s team.


KEY MOMENT

Joe Lewis’ strike. Enough said.


CONCLUSION

Taking my rose-tinted glasses off, we played well against a very poor side. That’s not to discount the enormous amount of desire and belief that was shown by each and everyone of the players this afternoon. I don’t think we are promotion material quite yet, but an important victory which will propel us up the table. A couple more editions, mainly for squad depth, is needed asap, and hopefully a return to the squad for the exciting Alex Addai. We will be there or thereabouts by the end of the season, when Johnson has brought in a couple of loan signings. But right now we still have a team full of desire and a Welsh Dragon in the heart of our defence, and that is enough for me.

COYY – Elliot

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