Andy Charles – @CapitalGull
TORQUAY UNITED 5-1 NOTTS COUNTY
It may not look like very much on a piece of paper, but the substitution bringing on Dan Martin on Saturday afternoon was done to perfection. Martin was already due to come on (potentially for someone else) when Wearne went down inside the box with an ankle injury and his introduction (which for some reason took forever) possibly saved Torquay from a result not as memorable as the one which arrived 30 or so minutes later. Until that change, former Gull Aaron Nemane had enjoyed a huge impact on the game he joined at half-time. His pace offered something different to what had gone by in the first 45 minutes, he was at the heart of a move which saw Elisha Sam miss an absolute sitter and had a part in Kyle Wootton’s goal. After Martin entered the game, bringing possibly the most pace in the Gulls squad, Nemane became the player Torquay saw in his early time at the club. Unable to beat a man, often wandering down dark alleys where end product was impossible and effectively marked out of the game. A Gary Johnson masterstroke.
I was very harsh about Tom Lapslie in one of my reports earlier this season, marking him only 1/10. Well, for yesterday’s performance I would like to redress the balance and offer him a cool 19/10. The former Colchester midfielder – shirt tucked in, chest puffed out – covered every single blade of grass, harried County’s midfield into numerous mistakes and had there not been a Connor Lemonheigh-Evans hat-trick performance, he’d have been right up there in the talk for man-of-the-match. It’s not the first time this season that Lapslie has upped his game against one of the National League’s better sides but, for me, this was the best I have seen this season from one of the players I was most excited about when he signed last summer on #ManicMonday or #MediocreMonday depending on your particular view.
Gary Johnson called on Torquay’s fans to get behind their team in the press during the week and boy did that call to arms work. From the opening whistle, and a series of chants directed at Kyle Cameron, to the end there was barely a second of negativity and an atmosphere I think I will remember for a long time. You could see, based on the celebrations for Torquay’s goals just how much it meant to the players and there were a few players on the County side who didn’t rise to the occasion, in particular the diving and cheating Ruben Rodrigues, who moaned and stropped his way through 90 minutes (plus a lot of injury time) and barely had any impact on the game.
It seems to me, when the Gulls play well, that our pressing game is on point. I don’t think I have ever seen that part of our game in better condition than it was on Saturday. County players were being harried and bullied into mistakes all over the pitch and the midfield battle was all too much for former Plainmoor loanee Frank Vincent, who had 45 very ineffective minutes on the park before being taken off at half-time. It was the ideal game for someone like Lapslie, as I have already said, but the more lightweight members of United’s midfield – Wearne and Stephen Duke-McKenna – were also “at it” from the off. It was as if County just expected us to let them pass it around and had no answer to the onslaught – even in the few minutes they had on top at the start of the second-half Torquay had a couple of decent chances.
Talking of Wearne and Duke-McKenna, they will go down as two of the better signings we made this season. I’d happily have both back next season but suspect they will be destined for one league up (if we don’t make it ourselves). I usually like to see some fresh faces in the squad during the summer and was always excited to get to games with seven or eight trialists involved, but that excitement has diminished due to middle age. Sadly, I think there will be plenty of turnover again this summer, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see at least one of our current crop back at Plainmoor with Notts County next season because I didn’t see any promotion quality in their squad on Saturday. Hopefully we can keep hold of the spine of our team (MacDonald, Wynter, Lewis, Moxey, Lapslie, Little, Evans) because they have rarely let us down, but I can see some of them trying their luck elsewhere and a busy summer of recruitment for the management team…fingers crossed it will be a little less manic than 2021 and with more success.
COYY – Andy
“I really enjoyed it and I felt very proud of people on and off the pitch. I appreciate their support today. Credit to everybody and we keep going, we always believe, and that’s what the boys are doing and that’s what I’m doing” – GARY JOHNSON
THE GULLS WEEK 11th-17th APR by Danny Burnell
PROUD AWAY SPONSOR OF KLAIDI LOLOS