TT MATCH VERDICT
Andy Charles – @CapitalGull
Torquay United 1-1 Maidenhead Utd
I’m a million miles from ever having been close to carving out a career as a professional sportsman, but I am fairly certain if I had the chance I would have been hungry for success and unwilling to give up until all chance of that success was gone.
On Saturday afternoon at Plainmoor, I witnessed players who seemed to lack the necessary belief there was still a chance of extending the season beyond the trip to Southend
I’m not letting the last five minutes of the game change my mind or verdict – it was a poor performance from the majority of the Gulls in a game which could have kept their hopes alive…especially given some surprising results from other parts of the country.
The atmosphere inside Plainmoor was as flat as it has been for months – I missed Eastleigh, but the Notts County game will live long in the memory as much for the bouncing performance of the Gulls fans as it will for the team’s all-action performance.
Against a very average Maidenhead, we swapped all-action and bouncing for lacklustre and quiet.
The Gulls were defensively solid against a side which was designed to go long but going forward there were way too many players off the pace and changes which were made (too late for me) were confusing and added very little.
Chances were few and far between with Danny Wright’s early effort blocked, not quite on the line but perhaps on its way vaguely towards the line.
Ali Omar, in for Dean Moxey at the back and one of the few to come out of the game with some credit, spooned an effort over at the back post from one of a couple of decent set-pieces from Armani Little, the second of which saw Magpies goalkeeper Dan Gyollai scramble the ball away at the near post.
United were dominant in the main but lacked any fluency and there were too many moments when attacking players (no-one can claim not to have been guilty) either over-played or put in an awful pass or cross at the wrong moment – the worst of these saw Wright badly over-hit a pass towards Connor Lemonheigh-Evans when he would have been one-on-one with Gyollai.
A chance apiece came just before the break, almost identical efforts from George Wells and Ben Wynter from 25 yards producing good saves from Shaun MacDonald and Gyollai.
The second-half was even less enthralling, punctured by mistakes from both sides and the officials, although referee Scott Jackson (a late replacement for Ryan Atkin it would seem) did get the big decisions correct, including a yellow card for Omar after he threw himself to the floor looking for a penalty.
Maidenhead managed just one moment of quality, and it came 10 minutes into the second period when Sam Barratt – who had been fairly lifeless alongside Nathan Blissett – woke up for a split second, controlled the ball inside the area and slammed a volley past MacDonald to the delight of 70 Magpies and their 85 flags.
United briefly pushed for an equaliser and Gyollai produced a superb save to tip over a header from Wright and then another when Lapslie really should have done better after being put through on goal.
It feels like I am describing a number of positives here, but the game certainly was not that and looked to be drifting into another disappointing home display until they woke up again just as the board was about to go up for added time.
A succession of corners and crosses, most failing to beat the first Maidenhead defender, ended up with one piece of quality and a looping Wynter pass back across goal, which was converted by Joe Lewis.
That seemed to spark some life, much like the defeat against Halifax earlier this season, and there were more chances to come, the most notable when Klaidi Lolos – on for a lengthy five minute cameo again – wasted another one-on-one with Gyollai.
The final whistle arrived soon after another header on target from Wright, but the reality is that the performance was some way short of what I turned up expecting from a team that remained in the playoff race, albeit clinging on by a thread which has now snapped.
MacDonald 7 – another solid display from a player we need to make sure is kept happy this summer, unlike 12 months ago. Did nothing wrong at all.
Wynter 7 – typically reliable performance from another Gulls stalwart I hope remains for 2022-23
Lewis 7.5 – was already in the running for MOTM before his goal. He’s a hundred-percenter and one who needs to be kept around
Omar 7 – I like big Ali – he might not be the most fluid or composed defender but he’s got something about him and is another who always gives plenty for the cause
Duke McKenna 5.5 – I’d say the Duke is our most talented player but his end product today was hugely disappointing. Over-played a lot of situations.
Martin 6 – didn’t affect the game enough going forward
Lapslie 5 – not his best performance today, looked to be a little off the pace
Hall 6.5 – best of the midfielders but that’s not saying a whole lot on a day when the central trio failed to shine
Little 5 – didn’t have a good game – lots of silly mistakes and passing was off along the majority of his set-pieces
Wright 6.5 – worked his socks off but was ably marshalled by similarly pace-lacking Alan Massey in a battle of players who have been there and done that.
Evans 6.5 – the only one of the forwards who looked like sparking something from time to time, but most of his good work was too far away from goal or with his back to it.
O’Connell 3 – had a couple of crossing chances and just failed to deliver past the first defender. Not sure why it was him who came on and not Opi Edwards.
Johnson 5 – not much to comment on here.
Lolos N/A – the king of cameos gets another few minutes on the pitch and makes a complete hash of a great chance to win the game for the Gulls.
Do you agree with the ratings? VOTE HERE
Man of the Match: Joe Lewis
There wasn’t really an outstanding performance from anyone on Saturday afternoon so you have to give it to the one candidate who got his name on the scoresheet and managed to secure a barely-deserved point for the Gulls. Joe Lewis played his full part in a fairly solid defensive display, as has been the case for most of the season, but whether we get to see more than one further home game from him we’ll find out in what should be yet another busy summer of wheeler-dealing.
Mainly for those at the back alongside Lewis. Ali Omar took his chance to shine and had a decent game in place of Dean Moxey, missing a rare game. That his absence didn’t really unsettle the back three too much speaks well for the former Tower Hamlets defender who might be playing for a contract over the final four games of the season.
The now-familiar three at the back with Duke McKenna and Martin the picks at wing-back on this occasion. Little played most advanced of the triumvirate in midfield, but it wasn’t really a day when midfielders had much chance to put their stamp on a game. Maidenhead often bypassed theirs entirely. I’d have to question the changes when we clearly needed something else up top but only made two wing-back substitutions until the closing minutes.
Maidenhead came with a plan – go long for Blissett and Barratt. Neither had more than a modicum of success and the Magpies had very few clearcut chances, making it all the more frustrating that we weren’t at the races for long spells.
Scott Jackson – another name I’d like not to see at Plainmoor next season. The couple of big decisions he had to make, he seemed to get right, but the mundane decisions were often somewhere between baffling and plain wrong.
The Fat Lady has sung. The season can now be allowed to move to the beach. Whether some of those who didn’t get as involved as usual might be a little more inspired in front of the BT Sport cameras next Saturday, we will only find out in seven days.
Now things turn to those who will stay – if you want my thoughts we’ll lose some key players (at least two of Little, Evans and Lewis) and end up needing at least another 10 signings. So get to work Pete Johnson and please find a few better ones than those who arrived on #ManicMonday2021