Clive Hayward – @Byehorse
Clive reports back from Plainmoor
TORQUAY UNITED 2-3 MAIDENHEAD UNITED – MATCH SUMMARY
After a game in which Torquay led twice and showed some promise, Maidenhead nicked the three points with a 95th minute sickener as a lack of concentration allowed the visitors in for a near post header.
Little went right for Torquay tonight. Injuries and refereeing decisions consigned us to another demoralising defeat.
Them’s the breaks when you’re bottom of the league.
22 minutes in, there was a serious injury for Kieran Evans- scant reward for a beautifully timed sliding tackle. He didn’t get up from the Pop Side touchline and was stretchered off, clearly in a lot of pain.
Torquay picked themselves up quickly and opened the scoring through Will Goodwin, who managed to work an opening and shoot low past the keeper.
A bumper 12 minutes of injury time saw three further goals.
First, Maidenhead utilised a yard of space on the left hand side to dig out a quality cross which was nodded home.
Aaron Jarvis then produced a moment of quality, with a lovely touch giving him room to slide in a low finish to put Torquay back on top.
The first half refused to die quietly, however, and in the 11th minute of added time the referee gave the visitors a hotly disputed penalty. He was adamant he had seen a handball. He had a good view, and gave it instantly. Maidenhead hadn’t appealed and everyone else was baffled.
The kick was despatched low to Halstead’s right- no chance.
2-2 at the break: all to play for.
Maidenhead’s main threat all night came from their left winger Ashley Nathaniel-George, and this prompted Torquay to swap their full backs at half time, with Dan Martin taking over from an often-overwhelmed Ben Wyatt.
On balance, Torquay were probably the better side. Jarvis and Goodwin continued to work hard and although there were few- if any- clear chances, Goodwin flashed a dangerous cross across the face of goal late on, and from an injury-time corner the Gulls saw a goal-bound header nodded off the line.
But it’s never over until the fat lady sings, and no Adele ditty is more heartbreaking than tonight’s denouement.
Halstead 5.5 – Had little to do. Flapped at a late corner & couldn’t keep the winner out.
Wyatt 5.5- Very hard to score him tonight. A bit of a shocker in the first half, playing on the right, as a left footer, against a good opponent. I would have given him a 4 at half time. Without ever looking rock solid, he was better on the left in the second half and looks a lot better when going forward.
Moxey 7- Where would we be without him? Well, still bottom, obviously, but certainly worse off. Experience tells and his long throw is a worryingly important part of our attacking game
Omar 6- Generous, I think. He did ok with ball at feet but lost most of his aerial battles against the Maidenhead Centre Forward.
Marshall 6- Didn’t look terrible before getting injured.
Martin 6- Can never fault the effort. Reasonable outlet at times.
Lapslie 6- What you see is what you get. The cheeky chappy runs around a lot. First touch of second half was appalling. He lost the ensuing tackle and that, in turn, led to a soft booking for McGavin who gave away a run-of-the-mill free kick trying to clear up Tom’s mess.
Smith 6.5- Curate’s egg. He’s young. He’s clearly got ability and does look to drive forward with the ball when he can. It must be desperately hard at his age playing with strangers of very limited ability who expect you to win games for them.
Evans 5- He’s got a good attitude & some skill, and we don’t have anyone better to replace him
Goodwin 8- Runs his socks off. Has scored some goals and may well have a decent future in the game. Won’t be at Plainmoor though.
Jarvis 8.5- If he experiences a second relegation in two seasons it won’t be his fault. He’s decent in the air, good with his back to goal and he scored a cracker tonight. If we had a winger, or put in more than one decent cross every 90 minutes, he could easily get 15-20 goals. At least he appears to be fit now, finally. We’re going to need him.
McGavin (for Evans, 22)- 6: Had time to make a real contribution. Some good touches. He was on two second half free kicks but on the first we tried to work a training ground routine and he got talked into setting the second for a blocked shot by Moxey. Shoooot man!!!
Donnellan (for Marshall, 38)- 5.5: Did alright: much better than his woeful showing at Wrexham. Looked to have tweaked something near the end though.
Hanson (for Donnellan, 88)- Could have been the hero with his injury time header. But we’ll win nothing with kids*
Tomlinson (unused defender)
Lovett (unused sub goalie)
*Alan Hansen joke
MAN OF THE MATCH – AARON JARVIS
I would agree with tonight’s sponsors. After managing to get his feet up for most of August & September, our number nine looks up for the fight now he is fit. More power to him.
The back five was merely wobbly tonight rather than catastrophic. There is little quality in midfield (I fear I was over-optimistic about McGavin in pre-season), so the two chaps up front have to shoulder most of our hopes. Goodwin shows good attitude and- in a poor side- a reasonable goal threat.
Six points on the road this week for a bottom half team. They weren’t great, but they didn’t need to be.
The second, third and fourth officials did nothing wrong.
Our referee tonight was Elliott Swallow. He’s looks to be a relatively young man. Tall and fit. From the first decision he gave, accurately spotting a double-ricochet for a goal kick at the Ellacombe End, he wanted to make this the Elliott Swallow Show. A theatrical point to the goal-line and a dramatic blast on the whistle. He was a card-happy, prancing attention-seeker of the kind that all right-thinking football fans & players despise. Very clearly headed for the top of his profession.
Five defenders aren’t enough. We do try to play out from the back after a fashion but we’re not awfully good at it. I thought the half time full back switch was sensible and allowed Wyatt to concentrate on what he is better at. We cry out for proper width though. The loss of Evans certainly won’t help that, and I don’t see anything but struggle ahead for this team.
I hate to say “I told you so”, but when people were airily talking about taking 6 points from our winnable home games against Scunthorpe and- God help us- Maidenhead, I just couldn’t see it.
Equally, although I have deep concerns about our survival prospects, I was fairly sceptical that less than 4 points should prompt a managerial change. I think I am more Johnson-sceptic than many Torquay fans, but at the moment I wouldn’t pull the trigger. The players are, I think, playing for him. They just aren’t very good and I’m not sure AN Other could get much more of a tune from them.
We do need to strengthen. I’d want one or two experienced/grizzled centre backs, some more quality in midfield and a winger. I’d also like a General Election and a trip to Barbados, but I’m not holding my breath about any of it!