Andy Charles – @CapitalGull
Andy blogs about the game at Plainmoor
TORQUAY UNITED 0-1 BOREHAM WOOD – MATCH SUMMARY
It took me a while to get the top line of this together because Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at home to Boreham Wood was one of the strangest games I can remember for a while. I arrived home feeling like it was a dreadful performance with nothing to take from it (sadly the nothings were goals and points) but I’m not sure that was really the case. And then I tried to work out just how we managed to create so many good chances when there appears to be so little creativity in the current squad…
Sadly for us, the game turned on an incident in the very early stages, just as so many games did in the first couple of months of 2021-22. I’d need to see a replay of Jamal Fyfield’s match-winning goal (I’ve since realised he wasn’t offside) but he appeared to be well beyond the last defender when converting a low cross past a helpless Mark Halstead – a cross which of course bypassed a handful of static defenders. Boreham Wood were lively early on but that goal was all they needed to go into ultra-negative mode, one we’ve seen from them and teams of a similar standard all too many times before. Going behind to them (or an Altrincham, Woking, etc, etc) is simply a cardinal sin.
Time wasting – tick
More time-wasting – tick
And then some more time-wasting for good measure – tick
That’s not to say Wood went completely into their shells as they continued to press for a second quick strike, with former Gulls Tyrone Marsh and Josh Rees both having chances. Torquay’s wounded XI pushed forward as well, in a game that was showing signs of plenty more goals, and how Gary Johnson must have wished the chance that fell to Ali Omar’s left foot had fallen to any other player – mark up the first decent save to Nathan Ashmore. Will Goodwin, who complained about rough (unpenalised) treatment from the Wood defence throughout, had a shot deflected out for a corner and another wasted chance followed when Tom Lapslie’s instinctive volley flew over the bar from close range. You could easily see his disappointment in missing that one.
At the other end, where defenders were continually given their freedom to push, pull and generally foul by lenient referee Matthew Russell, Halstead had to be at his best to keep out a shot from the very effective Lee Ndlovu, who monstered Omar throughout – possibly the first time I have seen the big man so badly outmatched physically. Marsh was also denied by Halstead, while Hanson flicked a header wide of goal as the Gulls went another 45 minutes without a goal. A fairly uneventful start to the second half followed but the game flickered back into life just before the hour mark when referee Russell somehow failed to spot the most obvious arm around the neck of Goodwin and award what was a stick-on penalty. As play continued Lapslie and Hanson both had shots charged down but you have to question just how he and his assistant failed to spot what everyone in the crowd did (probably a few of the 35 Wood travelling fans as well).
By now, the stop-start nature of the game was getting out of control, but sadly it took until the closing seconds of the 90 minutes for someone to finally get booked for timewasting – ironically the final player to enter the field of play – when George Williams was shown a yellow card. Long before then, Ashmore was taking a minute over a goal-kick and just about every throw-in was delayed. Not a problem for me, as we would do (and have done) the same. Refs just need to crack down on it as you end up barely getting 50 minutes of ball in play for your £20. Ashmore would prove United’s foe for the remainder of the game – Corie Andrews going close to his first Gulls goal and substitute Asa Hall having a header tipped over the bar, while Halstead kept out a Danny Newton shot on the break. But there would be no Gary time glory on this occasion, meaning four games and just one goal for the Gulls. Sure, we’ve only conceded a couple, but a lot of that has been more down to luck than judgement.
A slightly better start than last season, of course, but if the pattern sticks against Maidstone and Woking then this correspondent will start to furrow his ageing brow a little more.
Halstead 7 – A very solid display and looks a much more confident player than 12 months ago.
Crowe 4 – Really disappointing afternoon, both going forward and defensively. Also could do with some training on how to find a team-mate with a throw in.
Wyatt 6 – Seemed to be targeted early on by Boreham, and struggled for a while, but grew into the game and his link up play with Moxey produced some good crossing opportunities…sadly none was all that good or converted.
Donnellan 6.5 – Looked spent after 20 minutes but a second and third wind somehow got him through the 90 minutes and he made some telling blocks and interceptions.
Omar 4 – Was bullied and battered by Ndlovu from minute one. Never looked comfortable and his heading, at times, was positively atrocious.
Moxey 8 – Mr Dependable. Looked in severe pain when scythed down by Ndlovu (completely accidental as the Boreham striker had slipped over) but got back up and produced another display worthy of a player 10 years his junior.
Lapslie 6.5 – Another who was injured early on but able to continue. Was at the heart of most of United’s best moves in one way or another but I’d rather see him in front of the defence than playing so far forward as his finishing is simply not very good.
Hanson 4 – His reputation as Dover’s best player must mean Dover really were as bad as their results last season. Barely passed to a team-mate and didn’t see much of the defensive midfielder I expected. Possibly the most disappointing of the new boys so far.
McGavin 5 – I like him but this wasn’t a good day. Poor set-pieces, looked a little on the ponderous side mentally and physically, and struggles to keep pace with the game from time to time.
Goodwin 5 – Forlorn up front for long spells, manhandled by the typically strong Boreham Wood defenders and doesn’t seem to like that kind of attention. Not a target man – he needs to be the man making runs off one of those.
Andrews 5.5 – Looked like an unfit striker for the first hour but was the catalyst for plenty of United’s best chances in the closing stages. Maybe there is a striker inside…but like Goodwin he really needs that first goal.
Iseguan 5.5 – Fell over a few times, gave the ball away a few times, but looks to have some pace and trickery about him and almost set up a couple of good chances.
Hall 6 – So close to an equaliser and gives a bit more physicality to a midfield seemingly lacking in it.
Evans 5 – Hasn’t done much to impress so far and that thought remains after an ineffective run out off the bench.
MAN OF THE MATCH – DEAN MOXEY
Easily the best defender we’ve had since his arrival. Doesn’t matter where you ask him to play, he’ll always give 100%.
Only one to go for this time and it’s Mark Halstead. I’m so happy for him that he appears to have turned things around in the last 12 months. Looks confident and unflappable; took some good crosses, made a couple of excellent saves and the majority of his kicking was excellent apart from a couple which drifted long with the wind.
Matthew Russell was getting gyp from the crowd almost from minute one for allowing Will Evans to get away with just about whatever he wanted to against Goodwin and mainly Andrews. He was clearly refereeing to the new instructions to not give away free-kicks for “little fouls” but he took it a little too far on occasions. And his decision, with no help from an assistant, to not award a penalty for an arm around the neck on Goodwin, was a bleedingly obvious mistake.
No change to the 3-5-2/5-3-2. Donnellan in for Marshall and Andrews back up front …although not convinced either was fully match fit. Both made it through 90 minutes though. No idea where Hughes has gone, maybe the same mysterious way Ashley Nathaniel-George departed. Only real change came late on when Iseguan came on and played much more advanced in more of a 3-4-3.
Boreham Wood did what Boreham Wood do – difference this time was that they scored first and early. Three big blokes at the back, a bit of quality in midfield and a couple of effective strikers, although on this occasion Tyrone Marsh only seemed interested for the first 25 minutes and was the first player to be withdrawn. Ashmore in goal was the clear man of the match if you included both teams even though some of his time-wasting hit extreme levels.
Another game without a goal but a different kind of performance to Oldham, where the chances were few and far between. That makes it all the more frustrating to end up with nul points again, but we’ll have to regroup for two seemingly winnable games in the next nine days.