Dom Roman – @DomRoman
The Ed discusses Dan Martin
The 21st October 2021 was a particularly grim night even by Torquay United’s standards, a night when everything that could go wrong…did. From ex-Gulls Joe Oastler and Scott Rendell scoring, to United defending like clowns, playing like part-timers and being turfed out of the FA Cup by NLS side Havant. Just terrible, and to cap it off a straight red card was dished out to Dan Martin in the second half.
Dan Martin had joined Torquay on Manic Monday from Cardiff, after impressing Gary Johnson with his loan performances at Weston-super-Mare. Like many of the other signings, the words ‘youthful’ and ‘potential’ were key words for the arrival of the left-footed player. But of course, in this world of little patience and social media backlash, the pressure is on to impress, and unfortunately like many of the MM brigade, it was a sobering start.
My first impressions of Dan were that he did indeed have plenty to learn, but that was to be expected. At Tiverton, he found Gabby Rogers difficult to curtail, and then he sporadically earned a spot in the Gary Johnson NL line-up, with some good (Notts County, Wealdstone), followed by some rather ugly performances (Woking, Grimsby). Like many of the others he was swiftly written off by a number of the Yellow Army, which seemed unfair at the time, now it just appears preposterous!
After the calamity of Havant (a), the redemption of Dan Martin started in earnest on 27th November. Halifax at home was lost and there was little suggestion that United were ready to turn the tide on their form. But playing at left wing, Martin was amongst our better performers, showing more enthusiasm and resilience than many of his colleagues. After a few weeks away from the action, this was a player motivated to make an impression and it showed.
And that’s where the pieces began to fall into place for Dan. The following Saturday, United travelled to Weymouth desperately needing a win and the left wing back had a stormer. With the Gulls playing on the front foot and keen to feed the wings, Martin was fantastic. Pace and positivity, the defender pushed forward again and again taking the game to Weymouth and making things happen. This is what Gary Johnson was hoping for when he signed Martin, and this was a young chap making an impact after an awkward settling in period.
Since then he has not only made the left back/left wing back position his own, but also consistently been one of the best players in the team. Against Stockport and Yeovil, the defender just loved the challenges that were thrown at him, showing impressive anticipation to intercept dangerous passes and starting counter attacks at will. Add to that an endless amount of energy, and a determination to win back the ball in the opposition half and suddenly United had a real player on their hands.
With Martin adapting defensively, helped by a settled back defensive unit including Wynter/Moxey/Lewis, United have more backbone and balance, making us more difficult to play against than the soft and jittery August/September/October version. The next challenge for Dan is finding the final ball, and making his crosses into the box count. Often the passes have not matched the quality of his runs, but a cracking ball into Asa Hall in the first minute versus Dagenham shows what he is capable of. Whipped in with pace into the right area, that was perfect.
Hopefully the learning curve will continue for Dan Martin under the expert tutelage of Gary Johnson and he can maintain this form. His rise to prominence is a stark reminder to give players some patience and time to develop. Moving to a new club is not an easy process for inexperienced youngsters, it can take time to settle into a new area and time to prove why you’ve been signed in the first place. It appears that he’s now doing both and with any luck, this will continue as we seek to make the second half of the season count. Well done young man.
COYY – Dom
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