Andy Charles – @CapitalGull
Andy looks back over the talking points for TUFC 2-2 Barnet
I’ve heard people in the past say “wouldn’t it be nice to have a season of mid-table obscurity”. To those people, I say, please don’t ask for that again. That mid-table obscurity seems most likely for the Gulls now, but it has only come about because of our own maddening inconsistency. To beat Wrexham and Stockport at home, go to Chesterfield and Notts County and get results, and then look at Saturday’s result could easily make me pull the rest of my hair out. A poor Barnet side, apart from Kian Flanagan and Ephron Mason-Clark, should have been swept aside with ease even in swirling, sometimes gale-force, winds especially from a position of strength at 2-0. But there is a mental fragility to this Gulls team, even one including leaders like Dean Moxey, Asa Hall and Tom Lapslie. It’s hard to put a finger on why, but it’s patently obvious to anyone that the fragility exists and helps to explain failure to win this game…and Dagenham…and Aldershot…and Halifax…and Eastleigh…
Although Connor Lemonheigh-Evans won Saturday’s man-of-the-match award for his two goals, I thought the brightest spot from the game was the performance of QPR loanee Stephen Duke-McKenna, who easily outshone his fellow temporary Gull Stephen Wearne. Duke-McKenna had his main opponent, Ben Richards-Everton, on toast all game and the sad thing was that we failed to exploit this mismatch more often. Richards-Everton is slow and cumbersome at centre-back and looked woefully out of his depth at left-back, appearing also to be carrying an injury based on the amount of strapping he removed from one of his thighs during the second half. SDMcK should have been our first port of call every time we got the ball but, sadly, he was starved of service for long spells in the second half as the Gulls midfield wilted after a strong opening 45. And what that missed chance of his in the closing seconds might have meant for Torquay’s play-off chances, no-one will know until the season ends.
NOT ENOUGH FROM THE STRIKERS
Once again, Saturday saw Gary Johnson opt to play with no recognised striker. Danny Wright is still coming back from a nasty injury, Dan Holman was also missing and Klaidi Lolos apparently isn’t near the boss’s thoughts as a No 9. So why no signing? Has the money run out? Is there no-one out there willing to come to Plainmoor and possibly be a hero, as Sinclair Armstrong was well on his way to becoming before going back to QPR? Goals scored haven’t been as much of a problem as goals conceded (getting better here since the awful start to the season) but what might have been with a goal-scorer like Jamie Reid. It pains me to put this up, but Wright, Lolos and Holman have seven goals in 39 starts (and another 25 appearances off the bench). That’s basically rubbish – and many other worse words I can think of – and reminds me of some of our awful league seasons when top scorers ended with five goals.
I’m going to continue to bang the drum for Shaun MacDonald who, for me, has emerged as one of the best performers of what could have been a long season struggling against relegation. Although some of it might have been silenced by the wind at Plainmoor on Saturday, his communication with the back four (or five) in front of him is so different to what was provided by Mark Halstead in those sloppy early games punctuated with regular mistakes, even from the likes of Moxey and Joe Lewis, who also continues his significant improvement with every viewing. I’d have no problem at all with MacDonald continuing to be our No 1 next year but fully expect yet another squad rebuild to be #incoming.
Much has been said about Armani Little this season; plenty good, some bad and the odd bit which makes you wonder why people even rock up at Plainmoor week in, week out. Saturday wasn’t his finest game, but he gives 100% whatever some might think. However, someone needs to get in his ear about his set-piece delivery, especially in conditions like those prevailing against the Bees. Blasting one tailwind free-kick miles over the bar is bad enough, doing it again makes you question what is going on up in that clearly football-talented brain of his. And the corners…well, those were just asking to be headed clear. I saw some others (Moxey, Duke-McKenna) trying to get themselves involved in taking set-pieces and now might be the time to mix things up a Little (excuse the pun).
COYY – Andy
TT MATCH VERDICT – TUFC 2-2 BARNET, 19th Feb 2022
TT POWER RANKINGS EPISODE 5
PROUD AWAY SPONSOR OF KLAIDI LOLOS