TT TALKING POINTS
Tom Beddows – @BeddowsTom
Tom dissects the talking points from Eastleigh 2-1 Torquay United
A short (ish) trip to South Hampshire faced the Yellow Army today, for a rare 3pm bank-holiday Tuesday afternoon match against Eastleigh. A team who over the years have always been a bit of bogey team for United, of the 11 games we’ve played before today, against the Spitfires we have won 3, drawn 1 and lost 7.
With the Gulls winning 3 league games on the trot prior to the game, the great win over Yeovil on Sunday and the Spitfires sitting below us in the table, I think most were hopeful of a change of luck against Eastleigh.. however that was not to be the case!
The Yellow Army always turn out in numbers, no matter where we play or what day of the week it is. Today was another fine example of that, 430 yellows were at the Silverlake and from the off were bouncing, creating all the noise and getting behind the boys.
Echoing Matty Hayward’s comments from the Yeovil Talking Points blog, I heard for the first time some brilliant new Gulls related chants from the Yellow faithful, the lyricists have been busy over the last few weeks in coming up with these, keep them coming!
The Yellow Army know the role in which they play as the extra body for the team, and what it can do for the motivation of those on the pitch. Today was no different, the noise and bouncing continued for the entire game, even when we looked tired in the second half, and weren’t playing our best.
We will no doubt be needed again on Sunday, as we head up the road to Yeovil, a large home crowd will be in attendance and of course, there will be a big Yellow Army showing as there always is and hopefully push our boys to do the double over the Glovers.
Something we’ve got used to over the years in the Conference is the differing standards of referees. Occasionally, a good ref will come along, the game will run smoothly and decisions for or against us will be duly deserved, the recent home game against Stockport, I’d say was a good example of that.
Today’s Ref, Rob Massey-Ellis, seemed to be feeling the affect of too much Christmas booze, judging by his decisions on several occasions throughout the match. The penalty awarded to Eastleigh was absolutely appalling, from my point of view and going by the reaction of those around me there was no way it should have been given. A clear dive.
Perhaps Rob, should take some refereeing advice from his wife Sian, who’s often found as part of the officiating/VAR team for the Premier League, and get a better understanding of what constitutes a foul or a yellow card.
Or maybe with the red-card decision for Yeovil, on Sunday, reported to be “soft” by some United fans, this was the return “soft” decision to go against us.. Football can be like that.
Little has been the stand-out player this season for me. After not being able to play at his best last season due to injuries, his confidence this season has grown and grown. His presence is felt, seen and needed, scoring a third of all of our goals in 21-22 so far – with another lovely effort at Eastleigh just adding to his collection.
Having now reached double digits on his goal tally as well as a large number of assists before the New Year, we are now seeing what Little can be, and I have no doubt that his tally will easily double by the time the we reach May 15th. I hope those who booed and questioned him are now eating their words and realising how ridiculous that was.
The best overall signing from Johnson this summer? I’d say it’s probably Tom Lapslie. His total determination in the middle of the field is on show at every match I’ve seen him play. His control and experience plays a huge part in the teams performance each game. We were therefore unlucky to lose him in the closing stages of the first half today. Tom’s tempo and partnership with Little was working well, and giving those in blue the run-around. I hope that with a few days rest before Yeovil (A) on Sunday, he’ll be back to full strength and ready to go again. A vital part of our midfield.
Dan Martin has come on leaps and bounds over the course of the first half of the season. It took some time for him to settle and find his place in the squad, and after that stupid red card offence at Havant, I thought we might not ever see him in a Torquay shirt again. However he has proven me wrong, and I think has become the most improved player in the squad since the beginning of this season. He may not have had his best game at Eastleigh, but has now cemented his place within the starting 11, and with more games under his belt I think will prove to be one of the signings of the season.
Rest of the season
As we now reach the halfway point, I think we can all agree that the first half has not been as we all hoped for. Looking ahead we’ve got two big games against Yeovil and Dagenham, both of whom are eyeing up the play-offs. I think they will be tough games but I’m confident that if we perform like we did on Boxing Day and in today’s first half, we have every chance of 6 points.
We’re lucky in some respects that January sees us have two weekends off. The 15th Jan, which would’ve been the FA Trophy 4th round, and the 29th Jan, which would’ve been the return fixture of the 24th team which following Macclesfield’s expulsion, has still not been filled.
With the build-up of postponements already starting for many teams (so far luckily not for us), those break weekends could be invaluable for the team, in being able to rest any tired legs and treat any small niggles that the squad may have. As those teams around us deal with a backlog of fixtures in the coming weeks and months (and in the hope we manage to get through without suffering from isolations and postponements ourselves) we will have to be ready to take advantage and hopefully close the 9 point gap to 7th place and a play-off position.
We move onto Sunday, our first game of 2022. A game I hope turns the tide of our away form and sets us up for a exciting second half of the season.