Dom Roman – @DomRoman
The Ed talks Trophy, Halstead, Mac, Hall and YouTube…
Cards on the table – the FA Trophy, one week before Xmas, is always a difficult one to get worked up about and it seems like the players shared some of my apathy last Saturday. It’s not that I don’t respect the Trophy, there’s certainly a place in the non league calendar for it and a run to the final can create plenty of good memories. And of course it’s a trophy that we could conceivably win. The players should have been motivated enough to beat Tonbridge Angels, but with bigger games following at Christmas and the league taking priority, it wasn’t a big surprise to see us turfed out for another year. Let’s brush ourselves down, learn from those mistakes and move on.
Much of the disdain for the Trophy loss was aimed at Mark Halstead and I was surprised to see the keeper recalled for the game. Shuffling some players around was always likely but bringing Mark back in was a gamble, even against a team in the lower reaches of the National League South. The first goal was just bad set piece defending all-round, something that is a common theme early in Gulls games. Mac may have been more aggressive given the chance, but nobody is marking or blocking off the striker, very poor from United. The second is just bad handling on the keepers part, most of the time you get away with those but Angels mopped it up. I feel sympathy for the keeper (yes I’m a soft touch!) – awful early season form, then no proper matches before being chucked back in. A recipe for disaster and so it proved.
Shaun MacDonald proved (strangely enough) without playing that he’s currently the Gulls’ most important player, some turnaround considering he was warming our bench for much of last season. Just a timely reminder of how vital the goalkeeper position is and the notion that any average keeper can be fielded without harming your chances is completely flawed. The best teams generally have very good goalkeepers and Shaun MacDonald has really dug Gary Johnson (and his brother) out of a hole this season. His form has been a revelation in amongst a real mixed bag of United performances, and I don’t think we could have signed anyone better on short notice.
Speaking of important players, Asa Hall also missed the Tonbridge defeat and his presence simply cannot be replaced by anyone at the club. Hall was excellent against both Weymouth and Stockport, arriving back to lead the team to two big victories and providing re-assurance to some hesitant and youthful team mates around him. Can he manage three games close together over Xmas and New Year? Let’s hope so. Our winning chances increase with the skipper involved.
We covered the Tonbridge game with as much enthusiasm as usual, more enthusiasm than it deserved in hindsight…but we’re all in for the Gulls and that includes our new YouTube channel, hosted by Sam Swann (see link below). The channel is just in it’s early guise, evolving and growing as it goes on, and we’d love you to take a look. The format and presentation has already improved by the 4th episode, and is a short and snappy discussion about each game, with added social media and stats thrown in for good measure. Keep an eye out for more episodes and tinkering as the weeks fly by (and subscribe if you wish!).
The YouTube episodes have happily coincided with some better Gulls performances and also tremendous support from the Yellow Army. The Weymouth and Stockport games were just good for my soul. They reminded me exactly why I’m on this journey and why I love being a Torquay United supporter. A fabulous atmosphere of songs and togetherness that can make our club so special. Afternoons like those haven’t been around much in recent times, and I just hope we’ll be having more of them soon…COVID and Gulls form permitting.
Thank you for your support this year and I hope Christmas brings you cheer, even in these bloody testing times! I’ve chucked everything I have at the site this year to keep it fresh and interesting, whether I’ve succeeded is your call….but we’ll keep on doing it, I promise you that. I’ll be there on Boxing Day, let’s get that atmosphere rocking. Uncertainty hangs over post Xmas fixtures, and who knows what this flip flopping Government will do next, so make the most of it and make old Plainmoor the best it can be.
Happy Christmas from all at TorquayTalk!
COYY – Dom
“We’re very disappointed but I’ve got to take it on the chin, they’ve got to take what we’re telling them on the chin. They’ve got to be embarrassed for a little while until we play Yeovil, so we’ll have to wait and see if we can pick them up for that” – GARY JOHNSON