Dom Roman – @DomRoman
Dom discusses Saturday’s game at the Gallagher Stadium
A GOOD CHANCE FOR 3 POINTS!
Oldham, Halifax, Bromley and Boreham Wood are 4 teams you’d expect to see in the top half of the National League this season, four teams with good quality Conference players who have matched up well with United. Now, no disrespect to Maidstone United, but we should go into the game at the Gallagher Stadium confident of taking all 3 points back to Devon. It’s not a must-win game or anything like that, it’s only the 5th after all, and win, lose or draw the Gulls will remain work-in-progress. But after a start to the campaign lacking frills and spills, and most importantly lacking goals, it would be very nice to gather some momentum, some glory and give the stifled Yellow Army something more exciting to cling to.
THE GULLS LINE-UP
Gary Johnson remarked in the week that some of his team last weekend were only 80% fit, and that’s disappointing considering we’re four games into the season. In regards to the line-up, questions have been asked about a change of formation, perhaps giving the likes of Kieron Evans and Nelson Iseguan a chance from the start, and allowing Ben Wyatt and Dylan Crowe to play as conventional full backs. But is Gary Johnson ready to move away from his preferred 3-5-2 tactic which dominated pre-season and has been used ever since? I doubt it, and the line-up is unlikely to change very much from last Saturday. Defender Ross Marshall will be available after suspension and could replace Shaun Donnellan, whilst Asa Hall is pushing for a place back in the midfield, but may not be risked on the artificial pitch.
Hakan Hayrettin has managed The Stones since early 2019, and steered the team back to the National League this year. The team started the season well with a draw against Altrincham, followed by a win over York City, but since then have conceded 4 to Dorking and 5 at Wrexham (The Stones have also had 2 men sent off in those four games). 11 goals leaked in 4 games certainly gives me confidence that the shot-shy Gulls can find the net this Saturday! This is unlikely to be easy though, playing on a 3G pitch against an enthusiastic home team (and crowd) presents a challenge United have failed at numerous times before. Player-wise Maidstone’s top striker Jack Barham is their main attacking threat, and after a thrashing in Wales this could be a team on the rebound. However, keep calm, keep our discipline, find the first goal and the Gulls should be okay.
RISING TO THE CHALLENGE
Gary Johnson has already voiced his discontent at players not being good enough yet for first team football (de ja vu to 2021!), so this squad have to rise to the constant challenges that the National League throws up. Players have to take responsibility, take the bull by the horns and make things happen. Maidstone (a) and Woking (h) are terrific opportunities for goals and points, but if the right intensity and quality isn’t there, the Gulls could also come away empty-handed. Let’s throw away the shackles and have some fun this weekend lads, it is a bank holiday after all…