TT MATCH VERDICT
Clive Hayward – @Byehorse
If you were a neutral, a Havant and Waterlooville fan or, like me, had passed a late fitness test to attend this FA Cup tie, you might well have enjoyed it. There were four goals, plenty of incident at both ends and a late screamer to ensure a second helping in Hampshire next week.
We didn’t lose. But as any football fan knows, a late equaliser to snatch an undeserved victory away from you really hurts.
Although Torquay led twice, Havant deserved their replay and might easily have won the game.
The first half saw Torquay largely on top but failing to create much in the way of clear opportunities, even after the Hawks’ goalie succumbed to a groin strain that had prevented him from taking his goal kicks. His replacement inspired about as much confidence as a marzipan fire escape, but our front players did not sparkle. There is a wicked rumour doing the rounds that Armani Little’s middle name is “Creates”. My notes are quite sparse, but include:
- Harry Perritt not getting a game
- O’Connell taking down a Moxey dink nicely: turn and sharp shot blocked
- O’Connell hitting the bar
- O’Connell giving the ball away in their half with a woeful piece of control leading to a rapid break and counter.
- Little shamelessly buying a free kick on the right to allow Moxey to hit the first man with a crap free kick from a dangerous position
- My brother in law spotting early that their Jamie Collins was carrying a spare pound or two. The aged defender was nowhere near attractive as his Mum Jackie, and his Auntie Joan had a much better right foot.
Having migrated towards the empty “Wollens Babbacombe End doesn’t it look better with a roof on it Community Day Free Entry Terrace”, we hoped that Torquay’s slight superiority might actually translate into a win over part time and therefore potentially tiring opposition.
Not a bit of it. How we stayed on level terms in the first 20 minutes is beyond me. Havant realised that we are, in fact, very fragile and had a right good go. They hit the post and more ruthless finishing would have seen them well clear before we woke up.
On 66 minutes we took the lead with the sort of goal that home sides score, and that breaks plucky underdogs’ hearts. Little took a free kick 25 yards out. He caught it well, it dipped a bit but was at a lovely height for the keeper, who got 2 palms to it diving to his left. The ball ran free to Ben Wynter, who converted competently.
Unfortunately for Torquay, this didn’t blind Havant to how poor we actually are. They kept going and their spirited away support were rewarded when the ball thumped back off a post to Alex Wall who slotted a 72nd minute equaliser.
A draw would have been a fair result, but Torquay kept going well. Tom Lapslie had been subbed at half time (surely injured?) and replaced by Klaidi Lolos, who did well to get round the side of the defence to put one on a plate for fellow super-sub Jake Andrews, who was returning from the longest summer holiday since Cliff Richard nicked that double decker.
At this point, a proper football team would have counted its blessings; run the clock down; taken it into the corner; MANAGED THE GAME. Torquay United are not, I’m sorry to say, currently a proper football team. As night follows day, we conceded territory and possession, and a lad by the name of Tommy Wright took full advantage, smashing a shot into the top right hand corner for a richly deserved injury time equaliser.
Shaun MacDonald 6 – Does generally inspire confidence. Poor distribution late on may have allowed Havant their equaliser.
Ben Wynter 6 – Often notches for us in high-scoring draws (cue Celine Dion).
Joe Lewis 6 – Shoooooot! He’s going to get that every week now, isn’t he? Did bring it out well occasionally, but is an integral part of a creaking defence.
Ali Omar 3 – Oh, Ali. It’s hard not to feel sorry for him. A tough afternoon for the big lad on the left of the defensive 3, and sadly not up to National League standard.
Chiori Johnson 5 – This lad is a 5 or 6 out of 10 in every position. A better player would have produced far more from the right wing today.
Armani Little 5 – He divides opinion. Against this opposition he should have run the show. Way too inconsistent though: his free kick was an easy save for their sub keeper; luckily he parried it to Wynts, who is deadly from close range.
Tom Lapslie 5 – Batteries went, I think? Didn’t come out for the second half.
Keelan O’Connell 6 – Not taken much notice of him so far this season. Curate’s egg today. Replaced in the second half. Arguably harsh.
Dean Moxey 6 – Still good enough to play a thoughtful pass here and there. Popped up on the right in first half to dink a cute cross. Must be horrible to have played so far higher and be ending his days here.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans 6 – Always positive. Often threatens. But on form he would have destroyed Havant. Didn’t happen.
Dan Holman 5 – Always puts a shift in. But he’s no spring chicken. Not the answer.
Klaidi Lolos 6 – Does try. Made Jakes’s goal. This pleased me, because it was shortly after a bloke in front of me had told him he was shit. He’s not that, but whether he’ll have a career I still don’t know.
Jake Andrews 6 – About time Jake. I’m not going to get carried away mate!
Gabby Rogers 5 – He replaced Chiori Johnson on 78 mins, I’d be lying if I said I noticed him. Wasn’t he supposed to be some sort of Tivvy football genius?
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MAN OF THE MATCH – Ben Wynter
For bringing back good memories.
In another worrying performance, Joe Lewis bravely continues to embrace his inner Beckenbauer and Shaun Mac looks as assured as any keeper playing behind that defence ever could.
I’m led to believe it was 3-5-2, with Mox moved into a wing back role and Keelan O’Connell taking up a midfield birth instead of Asa Hall. If we had played 8 at the back I still wouldn’t have picked Ali Omar. I have three brothers-in-laws, all of whom paid their £12’s today, one of them nailed it when he described Ali as “Jimmy Aggrey reincarnate”.
We did manage to get the ball wide a few times today. We love to see it.
Nothing special. They may well threaten the National League South play-offs. With a touch more self-belief they could have blown us away today though. They have also, never forget, been further in the FA Cup than we ever have and it once needed Tim Sills to stop them getting to Wembley in a locally-fabled Trophy semi final with neighbours Gosport. Good luck to them (in the league only!!).
Not horrendous, but I wouldn’t let any of them near a jury room.
That equaliser was a great strike. So was Bromley’s second goal last week, and the common denominator is the Gulls getting pushed back too deep.
We are more than capable of winning the replay. I wouldn’t put a penny on it though. No player that has arrived since the Hartlepool game has improved our squad. We should stay up but believe me: that is not a given. A cup run would be lovely. I don’t care if it’s papering over the cracks – let’s do it.