TT MATCH VERDICT
Luke Hunter – @lukehunter8
BOREHAM WOOD 2-0 TORQUAY UNITED
Despite a couple of positive individual performances, United slumped to a disappointing 2-0 defeat in North London as Gary Johnson’s men failed to build on the weekend’s trouncing of Wealdstone – consistency is escaping us at the moment, and that perhaps reiterates the need for a least a little bit of strengthening in the United ranks.
My attendance was very much down to the wire on this one, but as I hurriedly ventured eastwards, I was quietly confident the journey would be worthwhile. Joined by friend and National Obsession host, John Cadigan, for our second Tuesday nighter of the campaign – we were at a bare minimum hoping for an improvement on the Solihull debacle, just a few weeks prior…
And, things started well. United comfortably matched Wood in the opening exchanges and looked more than adequate, for their part. The defence was markedly well drilled and Shaun Macdonald an ever-vocal, and much welcome, presence at the back. Hall and Lapslie pestered every ball through the middle and neither team really had the space or time to mount an attack. It was a rigid start from both, and I didn’t feel particularly threatened by Boreham. But, that feeling soon passed – along with the 25th minute – when the familiar face of Scott Boden missed a glorious chance from 7 yards to open the proceedings; it should have been 1-0.
Wood didn’t have much longer to wait for their opening – Luke Garrard’s men played some nice stuff at times, and their opening goal was particularly neat as a reasonable spell of possession and tidy passing eventually found its way to Kane Smith on the edge of the United box – he precisely picked his spot and capped a wonderful move. 1-0 Wood, with half time following shortly after.
Thinking ahead, I grabbed my chips just as United conceded their first, but a sizeable contingent of the Yellow Army still queuing at “The Lunchbox” can be forgiven for missing the opening minute of the second half. That being said, I don’t suspect they minded – almost immediately after the whistle blew, United found themselves in even hotter water. Joe Lewis was wrong-sided by Tyrone Marsh by an instant re-start ‘boot’ long, Joe looked panicked, Marsh went down, the crowd wailed. Penalty. Scott Boden stepped up, duly delivered and the challenge became twice as hard.
Gary Johnson tinkered; (C) Johnson and Lolos entered the fray – with Lapslie appearing on the right wing at one stage. The Gulls improved, and had a couple of okay chances and expected late pressure, but nothing spectacular – perhaps Johnson will feel he should have done better with a headed opportunity; additionally, a melee of players stabbed at a lose ball in the Boreham box – maybe somebody could have shown the composure to convert? But, in truth, the golden chance that might have given United a lifeline, didn’t really materialise. Boreham strangled the game and a surprising appearance from Ali Omar at 2-0 down, with Joe Lewis heading to CM, the only other thing to shout home about.
Shaun MacDonald: 5 – Surprisingly, Shaun didn’t really have an enormous amount to do! Took a number of crosses really well and his communication and calmness has certainly improved that backline.
Keelan O’Connell: 4 -Barely touched the ball in the first half. (Subbed, 50).
Ben Wynter: 5 – Made some exceptional tackles, but also seemed to be missing his usual steady touch.
Joe Lewis: 4 – A couple of costly/potentially costly errors pulls him down – won some good headers otherwise. Not a CM.
Dean Moxey: 6 – A decent performance from Moxey – worked hard down the left and one of the few to show that little bit of quality.
Dan Martin: 5 – Works hard and looks mature – dangerous down our left and one of the brighter sparks in the opening 25.
Asa Hall: 5 – Likewise Dan Martin, really prominent in the opening 25 but faded to a husk.
Tom Lapslie: 7 – Anything but a husk from the little guy – worked, and worked, and worked – can’t do it all, but tries.
Armani Little: 4 – A quieter night for Armani – lost the physical battle in the middle, but not really a battle I expect him to win. Much improved set pieces.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans: 4 – Likewise Armani, Boreham kept them both quiet and we’re always worse off for their quiet games.
Dan Holman: 4 – Not very threatening, Wood frustrated him and wasn’t able to show the quality to reply.
Klaidi Lolos: 4 – Difficult circumstances, but worked hard as always. Would like to see him shoot first time a little bit more – sometimes searches for the extra touch which isn’t there.
Chiori Johnson: 3 – Couldn’t get into the game, just doesn’t work as a winger for me.
Ali Omar: NA – Less than 10 minutes.
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MAN OF THE MATCH – Tom Lapslie
There’s nothing to dislike about Tom – works his socks off, unlucky not to pinch a goal last night and tried desperately hard to do just about everything.
Dean Moxey: We need to try and show a little bit more quality on the ball generally at the moment, Moxey leads by example on that front – a really tidy game.
Pretty standard, I wasn’t particularly disgusted by any decision. Possibly could have been a little tighter on time management – 5 minutes added on seemed generous to Boreham, given the penalty, celebration, six subs, a couple of injuries and Ashmore’s constant – but expected – time wasting.
Boreham are 2nd for a reason and it’s important to remember that their manager, and squad, are well-sourced and well-drilled – Luke Garrard, year after year, builds a competitive unit and last night was never going to be easy – these are the National League facts. They were physical, and I think probably bullied us out of the game from the 25th minute onwards – but as I’ve stressed, we were in it up until that point and I’d just like to see us try and put out a decent full 90 against one of the better teams, rather than the fade with a last minute hoorah we seem to be serving up at the moment.
Same again! 3 at the back, with Connor roaming behind Dan Holman and Martin and O’Connells the wing backs.
The penalty surely knocked GJ’s team talk instantly out of mind – you can never write off this team, but we lacked the options off the bench to conjure up a similar houdini trick from matches passed and that was probably the 3 points gone from then.
That was the 10th match… judgment day. An average league position to match our average start – for me, there is definitely talented footballers at the club, but we’re short of pace, particularly out wide and up front where it matters most, and that is surely the next problem Gary needs to address. We’re unrecognisably stronger and more organised at the back, but we’re just a bit “meh” as the ball moves forward – we’re missing a spark, and if we are to kick on this season, we need to find out how to light it consistently and quickly.
COYY – Luke