Rachel Malloch – @RachelVillavox
Rachel discusses the loss at Plainmoor
BETTER PERFORMANCE AND A CRUEL LOSS
To paraphrase Charles Dickens, it was the best of games, it was the worst of games. But unlike Saturday’s game against fellow strugglers Scunthorpe, it wasn’t a tale of 2 halves, it was a game where Torquay United held most of the possession, boasted the best chances and played the more attractive football. It was their best performance of the season. Yet we still surrendered a lead, twice, fell victim to a contentious penalty and from a goal-line clearance watched as Maidenhead broke away and scored in the final seconds of the game to snatch 3 points. Cue scenes of crestfallen Torquay players heads bowed, Mark Halstead particularly a desolate figure, crouched in despair at what was schoolboy defending with only seconds left on referee Ashley Swallow’s Rolex.
2 WINS IN 12
It is now 2 wins in 12 games, a statistic that should have the most ardent Gary Johnson crusader questioning the position we find ourselves in; bottom of the National League and yet to win at home. There have been reflective glimmers of improvement, getting thumped 6-0 at Wrexham might have appeared disheartening, but the stark difference between our clubs is purely monetary; a club taken over by 2 multi-millionaire Hollywood actors dispensing mega dosh to players who in any other universe would be playing for league I or higher level clubs. There was encouraging signs against Scunthorpe and again last night but there’s an obvious dearth in quality, confidence, experience and after last night’s game, belief. Gary Johnson is a proud man and has already been vocal in sounding the battle cry, whilst giving as much assurance as he can that he will be doing everything in his vast managerial experience to turn this squad’s fortunes around.
What was heartening for the 1,500 or so Torquay Utd supporters who attended the game last night was the powerhouse performance of Aaron Jarvis, a player whose short career with Torquay has been blighted with a thigh strain injury, but on last night’s performance, he was head and shoulders (that could also be a nod to his luscious mane of hair!) far and away the best player on the pitch. Will Goodwin too has impressed and lit up the evening gloom.
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY
Watching a very ordinary team in Maidenhead, what was notable was a certain speedy winger Ashley Nathaniel-George who was a thorn in Utd’s side all game, until the introduction of Shaun Donnellan following the injury to centre half Ross Marshall. Shaun nullified the threat comfortably until he too was struck with injury and had to leave the field. This is something that we have cried out for all season, a wide player with pace, confidence to run at and beat players and the ability to ping over a pinpoint cross to the forward attacking players. A pity then that Nathaniel-George’s trial spell in south Devon ended with the player looking for a move to a home counties club and landing at Maidenhead.
In conclusion, Torquay Utd are improving, slowly, but with a flurry of injuries, gifted young Welsh midfielder Kieron Evans having to go off after being clobbered in the ribs sustaining fractures and a trip to Torbay Hospital for his troubles, Ross Marshall limping off, Shaun Donnellan out again, Corie Andrews, the elusive Asa Hall, the Gary Johnson bat phone will be overheating this week in attempts to bring in at least 2 loan deals for vital cover to missing players. It does lead me to former Plymouth youth player Ollie Tomlinson. Every appearance, including some very assured showings in pre-season, and a couple of cameo late appearances this season, has been bright. I like the look of him and if we don’t see any incomings in the defensive area, it is most likely that we will see young Ollie thrown into the first XI at York on Saturday. Whatever your views, whether you see the sands of time ebbing away on Gary Johnson’s managerial Torquay career or you have every faith in his ability to turn these troubled times around, one thing is for sure, Torquay United, we’ll support you ever more.