Dom Roman – @DomRoman
Dom blogs about the Gulls
SITTING ON THE FENCE
What were my initial thoughts on Saturday’s goalless draw at Plainmoor? Well, permission please to sit on the fence! The game neither heightened my optimism for the 22-23 season to come, or made me more pessimistic! There were good things – Will Goodwin in fact, not to mention a terrific performance from Dean Moxey and an assured 90 minutes from Mark Halstead. There were bad things – too many aimless long passes and defensive hesitancy. And there were ugly things – namely the injuries that are rearing their heads again. A mixed bag, but overall nothing to alter my pre-season predictions and nothing that should strike panic into the Yellow Army. One (fairly unremarkable) game out of 46 ticked off the list, and frankly just a start.
One factor that was decidedly positive on Saturday, was the sociable element of catching up with fellow supporters, including a number of our fantastic contributors. The beers were poured and the Yellows banter flowed, smiles all round in the Torquay sunshine. My matchdays are much more than just the football, especially on days like these. It’s a shared experience isn’t it, hours away from other things in life and boy it was great to be properly back amongst the Yellow Army – enjoying the boisterous atmosphere (enhanced by a tuneful Latics away following) and by 2.45 perched on Bristow’s Bench.
As a Yellow Army we are a community, and I’d like to think we look out for each other. This has been illustrated over the last few days by the response to the death of young United supporter Ben Oliver. The terrible news has been felt across our fanbase, and the amazing reaction to George Hamlyn’s Go Fund Me page – https://gofund.me/6bb76ab8 – shows how much we come together. Well done to the club for their swift action with the shirt raffle as well – bit.ly/3JERfH7. RIP Ben. Perspective if ever we needed it, that a 0-0 draw to start the season is nothing to get stressed or bothered over really is it?
Back to the football and I’ve loved seeing Will Goodwin throw himself into the action against Exeter City and Oldham Athletic. The striker shows no fear and is a big lad built to get stuck in. Tall with a strong physique, good first touch and a quick turn, I do fancy Will to bag a goal sooner rather than later. The quick pivot and shot that rattled the crossbar on Saturday looked destined to end in the net, but he’ll have to wait a little longer. The contrast between one youngster in Goodwin and another in Olaf Koszela was stark. All effort from Olaf, but no indication that he’s ready to make an impact in the NL. Subbed in and then subbed off with the opposition down to 10, it doesn’t bode well for him, and we’ll see what GJ decides to do with Koszela in the coming weeks.
How good was Dean Moxey at the back? Like a welcome air of calm, Mox made everything look easy and he was only flustered when Ali Omar failed to shout accordingly for the ball! Ross Marshall and Omar have much to learn from Dean – how he manages himself during games and the positions he takes up to nullify attacks. Both of these young centre backs can be sound players, but their lack of pace along with Dean is a concern. It was noticeable how far back the defence sat, with none of the centre backs fancying a foot race in behind them, we allowed Athletic too much territory and in turn the midfield found it tough to make hay going forward. Getting that defence a yard or two further up the pitch to give us more push on the press, will be on GJ’s bucket list for future fixtures I’m sure.
Defence could be key in the first month or so. With attacking players attempting to find fitness and cohesion, it’s unlikely we’ll be over-running teams with a whole load of gusto, so we probably have to keep things tight at the back to scrap out points. Mark Halstead is a key element of the defensive resilience (I didn’t expect to say that in 22-23!), and I appreciated his form on Saturday. Positive and proactive at the back, his body language was hugely different than this time last year and maybe more clean sheets will be coming his way very soon. As mentioned on YouTube (shameless plug below), nobody was talking about the goalkeeping situation at the weekend. Long may that continue.
Onwards to FC Halifax Town next weekend, another team who have had to revamp their squad over the summer. An interesting test awaits and it’s nice to hear that Harry Lovering’s Travel Club are booked out for the long journey to cheer on the lads! I’d like to see Tom Lapslie back for the trip up north, his presence in midfield was missed on Saturday. The way TL wins possession and pushes us forward can make a big difference. Otherwise, we’ll see how our injury list is looking (good luck to the new Head Medic) and whether Gary Johnson delves into the loan market for a classic pre-match signing (or two). Early days for this squad – relationships being formed, understandings improving and an enthusiastic young bunch keen to learn. Patience is key….though let’s hope some goals to rejoice are just around the corner.