Thomas Kelly – @tommyktufc
Thomas discusses the game at the Shay
THERE’S ONLY ONE MARK HALSTEAD
What a difference a year makes! Last season, we had a goalkeeper lacking confidence, making errors and eventually dropped just a few months into the season, certain his time as the clubs number one keeper had passed him by. Most, including myself had written Mark off before a ball was kicked in pre-season but what a turnaround it’s been from Mark “safe hands” Halstead.
During our pre-season game with Exeter City, he showcased himself to the Yellow Army with a brilliant performance between the sticks and has continued to improve into the first games of the season.
His performance at Halifax was outstanding and rightly deserved the acclaim from the Yellow Army at full time. He was confident, vocal and the saves he made were incredible. Watch the highlights when they get released. We would have lost that game comfortably without him in goal.
Whatever you think of Mark, everyone needs to get behind him and give him our full support. Let’s not forget we are the only club to have not conceded a goal yet in the National League and that’s testament to him, the coaching staff and the squad.
Seeing him celebrate with Gary at full time as a fantastic moment for him and that picture of him doing the Gary celebration has become one of my favourite pictures I’ve taken at a Gulls game.
Bravo Mark, keep silencing those critics (including me!).
CHARACTER BUILDING WIN
It was a hard watch if you were one of the 135 in attendance at the Shay, no doubt even harder listen for those listening in from home. I expect many had turned off their radios or were about to throw their computer screens out of the nearest open window after wave after wave of attacks from FC Halifax Town as the second half dragged on.
We were second best through most of that game and the stats were clearly in favour of FC Halifax Town except for the one stat that matters the most in football, the full time result.
For a side already ladened with injuries in just the second league game of the season, a return of four points from six available against teams we would expect to be fighting for the play-offs at a minimum is a very good start considering we aren’t at our strongest yet. Wins like this one on Saturday builds so much character in a side, especially for our younger players. You know what they say about teams winning games they probably don’t deserve to win!
MORE INJURY WOES
Halifax fans will call it time wasting, perhaps there was an element of gamesmanship, but the truth is a lot of our players aren’t 100% fit at the moment. Add in the 30c heat and having to defend for their lives, and perhaps it wasn’t a surprise many of our players went down with cramp so early into the second half. More worryingly, new loanee Nelson Iseguan only lasted a few minutes on the pitch before hobbling off. It was a shame because he provided us with pace on the flanks which we were sorely lacking for the majority of the game. I’m not sure how much game time he has had during pre-season but from what I saw, he looks a promising prospect if we can get him fully fit.
WELCOME BACK TOM
Fearing the announcement of starting XI, it was a mighty relief to see Tom Lapslie and Asa Hall fit enough to start against a very physical FC Halifax side. Tom especially has become a fans favourite for his never say die attitude and his tendency to get stuck into the game from the first blow of the whistle. Matt Orton in his TT verdict had him neck and neck with Halstead before Halstead became the best goalkeeper in world football and it’s no surprise. Considering he’s not had a full pre-season, he was full of energy and gave us some fight in the midfield, chasing down everything he could. It was a fantastic effort from him to complete the 90 minutes. I really hope the midfield dynamo can stay fit for the whole season because he’s one of those players who can make something happen from nothing in my opinion.
RIP BEN OLIVER
On the 15th minute, fans from both sides showed their respect for Ben Oliver, who tragically lost his life last weekend at just 15 years old. At relatively short notice on the day of the game, news spread that there would be a minutes applause and the Yellow Army can be proud for getting this arranged and sending a lovely tribute to Ben. Thank you to the FC Halifax fans who also joined in and it was nice to see our players pay tributes to Ben after the game on social media. There will also be a minutes applause set for the home game against Boreham Wood and I know the Yellow Army at Plainmoor will give him a wonderful response.
RIP Ben, forever a Gull, taken way too soon.