Dom Roman – @DomRoman
ONE STEP FORWARD…
The seventh game of the season shouldn’t feel quite so huge should it? But here we are! And although I wasn’t at Roots Hall on Saturday, the final whistle prompted me to punch the air in our Cornwall caravan and look around for celebratory High 5s (there wasn’t any takers). As a Torquay United supporter losing runs are all part of the experience, when we do bad we really go for the jugular, so avoiding a fifth was terrific. It was also lovely to draw a line in the sand after that mostly torrid Woking (h) performance (A performance that had me grimacing all week long).
Is this the start of a winning run? Is the team starting to gel into a good one? Will September be a glorious month? Well I wouldn’t like to draw too many hasty conclusions from the Southend victory. The headlines of the day are that the defence battled it out until the very end, and a striker actually scored a goal! Ali Omar is becoming a leader at centre back, and seems to be enjoying the backs to the wall defending of being a Gulls player this season. Meanwhile, as always, goals for strikers breeds confidence and hopefully more goals.
Look behind those all-important facts and there is still much to work on. Defending deep, inviting pressure and failing to keep possession in midfield are not the characteristics of a team that is ready to bloom. Gary Johnson will be very aware that there is still much to achieve around the squad, and would love to become more adventurous with his tactics, but at the moment our best chance of success is a combination of defensive resilience and counter attacking prowess.
What we do have is character to build on, players who are willing to run through walls for Torquay United and players who will over time find more composure and more quality on a football pitch. Ideally our age balance around the squad would show a mix of younger players, 26-30 year olds and some older experienced pros, but we know that’s not the case. A number of players have played less than 50 senior games, and need time to find their way at Plainmoor, meaning there will be (spoiler alert) more bad days here or there as these inexperienced lads make mistakes and lose out to stronger and wiser NL pros.
The important thing for me is the United players approaching games with the correct mindset, getting the basics right and beginning to develop proper seeds of cohesion around the squad. The last two games at Plainmoor have seen us look hesitant from the start, and allowing the always robust Boreham and Woking to puff out their chests and dictate proceedings. The National League is no place to retreat into your shell, and lessons should have been learnt in those losses. With Aldershot Town the next visitors, a quicker start on the front foot and a goal would be just the ticket.
Shots have had a real mixed start to the season, however this is no home banker and could come down to fine margins (cliche alert – first goal is crucial). Finding form at Plainmoor is a must if we’re to evolve into contenders, however in the here and now this latest Gary Johnson project of a fantastic career is still in it’s infancy and the fine tuning continues week by week. Manage your expectations of what this young team currently is, appreciate what they are trying hard to do and believe in improvement over time in what is a very long season. See you at Plainmoor!