Job Estill – @JobEstill
Job discusses the game at Plainmoor
Craved by all but rarely seen at Plainmoor, goals are what win football games and bring in crowds. The current circumstances make both attendances and wins look unlikely to rise.
Bar a couple of good chances early in the second half, Torquay were timid and impotent. The combinations didn’t work going forward and it took two central defenders linking up to see the Woking net ripple. Will Goodwin looked positive but possesses a recurring poor final ball, whilst Corie Andrews seemed to prefer the beautifully-kept grass and referee’s ear to playing football. Hopefully, Aaron Jarvis or Andrews’ Aldershot form will chivalrously ride over the Popside roof to save the day.
On a positive note, at least there was a (futile) opportunity to celebrate today!
The sight of an in-form Mark Halstead sporting crutches is a sorry one: just when it seemed the former-Blackpool stopper had found a break, bad luck reared its ugly side once again at Maidstone.
Under the rays of bank holiday sunshine, Rhys Lovett deputised with a solid, albeit not spectacular, performance. He made a plethora of good saves to keep the scores level in the first half and another couple in the second, from one he was unfortunate to concede on the rebound. If he were to become more authoritative when dealing with crosses, Halstead’s likely lengthy absence may not be as damaging as it initially seemed.
SHAPE OF THE TEAM
Briefly, allow yourself to cast your mind back to happier times: the swashbuckling side of 20/21 (I know, I should let go…). A key observation is the shape of that successful side – a simple back 4 with a solid midfield and wingers, who have since become an endangered species on the luscious Plainmoor turf.
Once again, Torquay were in desperate need of outlets out wide today and their absence did the midfield no favours: the trio were often stretched to fill the space in the flanks, consequently vacates space in the middle on countless occasions.
It is not implausible that the answers are in the building at Seale Hayne: Dan Martin and Nelson Iseguan look to have the athleticism and pace to get up and down the flanks as wing backs. If not, reverting to a 4-3-3 and loaning/buying a couple of decent wingers would go a long way.
The word patience surrounding the situation on the English Riviera is a homonym. On the pitch, more patience is required: far too frequently the ball was hopelessly pumped long after a turnover and predominantly it would quickly return to the feet of a red and white shirt.
Torquay looked at their most dangerous in the patches of the game where they kept the ball on the floor; however, as the result suggests, this did not happen enough. Johnson identified the issue in his post-match interview when he said that Woking ‘played football’ more often than his side. If Torquay are to become competitive at this level, they need to be braver in possession.
Off the pitch, patience is wearing thin and justifiably so. Yet, it is in the team’s interests that they are given a few more weeks of support to find their feet and are not proverbially kicked whilst they are down. After all, the season lasts beyond Christmas.
This brings me nicely to my final point: Gary Johnson. Johnson is approaching his fourth anniversary at the club and will forever be a popular figure at TQ1. Post Ashton Gate, not everything has gone swimmingly and the current performances look ominous for the 67-year-old, but he has the experience and CV to make a success of this season. Regardless of whether he succeeds, when Johnson departs the Bristow’s Bench dugout, it will be a sad day for the football club.