Dom Roman – @DomRoman
Dom discusses new Gull Rhys Lovett
The squad is almost complete, and the latest two signings predictably included trialist Rhys Lovett. I take a little look at the latest keeper to stand between the United sticks:
Birmingham lad Rhys started out as a junior at Walsall’s academy, before finding his way to Cheltenham Town in 2015 to play under a certain Gary Johnson (Cheltenham link klaxon!), who gave him his league debut. Rhys stayed longer at Whaddon Road than GJ, but never make a proper breakthrough at the club, appearing only a handful of times, whilst being loaned out to the likes of Tiverton (twice, lucky chap!), Shepton Mallet and Shortwood (me neither!).
He finally moved in 2020 to Gloucester City, before COVID cut short the NLS season and Maidenhead United called. The Maidenhead spell started well, and included a lively substitute appearance upfront against Boreham Wood, where Lovett banged in a memorable goal! He remained at York Road for 21-22, but was dropped before Xmas and spent the rest of the season at Billericay, where he finished the season as number 1. With spells in various sides the keeper has some valuable experience to call on, but has much to prove if he is to become a regular in Torquay’s line-up.
You want highlights of the new keeper? On YouTube you’ve got it, posted by the man himself. With 6 minutes to view, you can see Rhys getting down low to a number of shots, standing up well to one-on-ones and kicking the ball cleanly into the opposition’s area. Of course highlights never tell the full story (well unless you’re a world class player…), but there’s definitely something about this lad and Gary Johnson clearly feels he’s worthy of another opportunity.
POSITION – Goalkeeper
DATE OF BIRTH – 15/05/1997
HEIGHT – 1.88m
BIRTHPLACE – Birmingham
PREVIOUS CLUBS – Cheltenham, Tiverton, Shortwood, Shepton Mallet, Gloucester, Maidenhead, Billericay
STATS 21-22 – National League: Played 10, Goals Conceded 19, Clean Sheets 1, Yellow/Red Cards 1/0
Gary Johnson on Rhys – “I know him well. Rhys has been gaining lots of experience over the last few years, he’s a great trainer, and he will be looking forward to pushing for a first-team place in due course… and we ever need a late goal, then Rhys is perfect for Gary Time!”.
MOST/LEAST LIKELY TO
Most Likely To:
- Put his hand up if we’re a goal down and Gary wants a different option upfront.
- Be squeezed into puns around his ‘Lovett’ name, including a Kevin Keegan one based around his infamous 1996 tirade.
Least Likely To:
- Look grumpy for PPA photography, lovely smile Rhys!
- Bad mouth Mark Halstead and insist Gary Johnson makes him the no.1 or else.
Have we got two number 2s now or will one prove that he’s a nailed on number 1? After years as a perennial deputy keeper, Mark Halstead still has a lot to prove if he’s given the nod for the Oldham big kick-off, and Rhys Lovett is lacking the cv to make him an automatic first choice. However, he impressed me at Exmouth, a tall lad who seemed very vocal and wasn’t afraid of coming for crosses, it was a positive 90 minutes and maybe he can bloom at Plainmoor. As unproven keepers go, this chap could be worth the punt, and we’ll see if he ends up as a likeable chap/side-line cheerleader or something more in the coming months. I can’t pretend the goalkeeper situation doesn’t concern me as we head towards August, but I wish him (and Mark) the best of luck. Dom