Chris Wade – @TufcChris
Chris reports back from Plainmoor
TORQUAY UNITED 1-1 SCUNTHORPE UNITED – MATCH SUMMARY
It was what felt like a must win afternoon at sunny Plainmoor, as just over 2000 fans rolled in through the turnstiles. The Yellows line-up showed two changes form the mauling at Wrexham last weekend. The fit again Dean Money replaced Shaun Donnellan at the back, and midfielder terrier Tom Lapslie was fit enough to start in central midfield in place of the injured Asa Hall. There was also a home debut for Wigan loanee Scott Smith alongside Lapslie.
It was a bright start as both sides in this 24th versus 23rd battle looked for the early boost of a goal. And it was United that got it. Will Goodwin controlled the ball and was pushed to the floor but managed to release the ball, Lapslie was able to roll the ball around a defender and into the path of the galloping Dan Martin around the outside. Despite a heavy touch as he entered the left edge of the box, he was able to remain composed and roll the ball under on the onrushing Marcus Dewhurst in the Irons goal. A great start and Martin’s first Torquay goal.
United were in the ascendancy for the first fifteen minutes, and Kieron Evans was weaving patterns and nearly slipped Aaron Jarvis in, and then did hit the target only to be thwarted by the outstretched right boot of Dewhurst. Following the early boost, Scunthorpe started to establish a foothold in the game, although some possession amounted to little. It was noticeable how much more aggressive Ross Marshall and Ali Omar were being in the front foot defending, at the cost of several free kicks. Smith settled nicely and looks a strong and controlled footballer as the game reached half time.
There was a Torquay change at the break. Dylan Crowe had taken a couple of heavy tackles and didn’t reappear for the second half, replaced at right wing back by the left footed Ben Wyatt. United needed a tight and compact start to the half, and we got the exact opposite. Scunthorpe broke forward and a shot from the edge of the box as the defence retreated was blocked by Campbell, but it fell to Alfie Beestin ten yards out and he drove a right footed volley under Mark Halstead and into the net. Just what we didn’t need.
The Plainmoor faithful reacted well to that set back and got behind the players. The patterns being weaved by Evans and Smith almost produced chances for Martin and Goodwin in and around the box as the referring became more erratic amid a flurry of yellow cards for very little. This culminated in a thunderous tackle from Ben Wyatt when he won the ball and knocked Joe Nuttall to the floor. Unbelievably, a foul and yellow card was the response. It was what I would have called a proper tackle, but that doesn’t seem to be allowed these days.
The game had become more stretched and Halstead produced an outstanding fingertip onto the post, and Smith had to hook off the line from a deflected Nuttall shot. A neat free kick move on the edge of the box between Evans and Moxey almost got Smith in, and Jarvis headed fractionally over from a left wing cross. And a cross from Moxey that I would like to take out for dinner somehow evaded four onrushing Yellow shirts. But Scunthorpe were still pushing, and header from a corner had to be hacked off the line as the game headed into injury time. And the final chance fell to the Irons. Ali Omar was caught out around his left shoulder, and a low cross was met by the right boot of ex Blackburn striker Nuttall. Oh no we all thought as he connected. But a Superman right hand appeared from Halstead to palm the ball over.
Honours even. Better, but not the three points we all craved.
Mark Halstead 8 – Player of The Match. Please see below.
Dylan Crowe 6 – There was certainly more intent in his attacking play and more intensity in his defending, but he still lacks an end product on his right flank crossing. Off injured at half time.
Ross Marshall 7 – A noticeably more aggressive approach from Ross. There is certainly something to work with but he gets caught out of position and his control let him down more than once.
Ali Omar 7 – Again a stronger physical performance from Ali as he had to scrap with Nuttall. He is much more comfortable physically now but gets caught out positionally too often. But he is young.
Dean Moxey 8 – Excellent return form the ever-dependable Dean. Stong in the tackle, good in the air and a wand of a left foot. I am actually sat in an Italian restaurant with his second half cross as I write this. Naughty ball in.
Dan Martin 7 – A lively performance from Dan, and crowned by his first goal in Yellow. Wing back certainly suits him more with a back three and allows him to get forward more freely.
Tom Lapslie 7 – A typically tigerish performance from Tom on his return. Ran around and got in the faces of the opposition. Also freed Evans and Smith to try and impact the game higher up.
Scott Smith 7 – Very promising debut from the Wigan loanee. Stronger than some loan players that we have had and was able to put himself about and influence the ball. Lost his way a little in the second half as the game became more stretched.
Kieron Evans 7 – A very bright first half an hour and was in dangerous areas further forward in this game. But he still lacks end product and wasted lots of opportunities to get a meaningful final ball into the box to hurt the opposition.
Will Goodwin 7 – Another performance that we have come to expect from Will already. Committed, alert and lively and nearly got into some positions where he could hurt Scunthorpe.
Aaron Jarvis 7 – It was good to see a target man that was able to hold the ball up and bring others into play. He perhaps didn’t win as much in the air as you might have expected but a promising full home debut to build on.
Ben Wyatt 7 – An effective second half when he replaced Dylan Crowe at half time. He was naturally more comfortable coming inside onto his left foot but defended strongly and was committed as ever. Laughably booked for winning the ball.
Brett McGavin 5 – Replaced Lapslie for the final ten minutes. Didn’t really impact the game.
MAN OF THE MATCH – MARK HALSTEAD
Purely for the quality of his two second half saves it has to be Mark. The tip onto the right-hand post and the point-blank push over in stoppage time were result savours. The difference in him from last season is incredible. And great to see.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS – DEAN MOXEY & KIERON EVANS
Dean Moxey was excellent on his return from injury and it was obvious how much we have missed his calmness and quality on the ball at the back. Evans was the pick of the three in midfield.
Scunthorpe came with a bold three up top to try and control the game but the early goal clearly rocked them. But they found a way to open the game up in the second half and the early equaliser after half time helped them establish a foothold in the game. They were certainly worthy of a draw.
Very much as every other week. Lacked common sense and what this level of football is about. In a game that had one, possibly two over physical challenges, there were nine (NINE) yellow cards. The majority were for minor offenses and this habit of everything being a yellow card is a pathetic trait in modern football. Wyatt’s booking was frustrating and will no doubt be deemed to be “over physical”. The fact he won the ball clean as a whistle and happened to catch the guy on the ankle counts for nothing these days. Tackling is effectively banned.
It was a return to three at the back, and that seems to suit these players more than a flat four. The three in midfield certainly seemed more balanced and mobile and were able to push the team forward. But we did lose the midfield ball winning in the second half and this has been a regular pattern this season. It was nice to have two physical centre forwards up top that could wrestle the centre backs and bring other players into the game.
A draw was certainly the right result. Chances came and went for both sides in the second half but it felt like Scunthorpe had the more dangerous opportunities. Two cleared off the line and two wonderful saves from Halstead, whereas Torquay’s was more dangerous positions and play than actual chances. As the saying goes, it’s only a good point if we win the next one, which happens to be another winnable game at home to Maidenhead on Tuesday night.