Danny Burnell – @dannyburnell_92
Danny reports back from Hampton & Richmond
HAMPTON & RICHMOND 1-2 TORQUAY UNITED – MATCH SUMMARY
Torquay United are a club like no other, that’s for sure. From desperation, despair, and everything in-between, this club puts you through the mill. A chalk and cheese performance, one that still raises many concerns, but for once Gulls fans, we went home celebrating!
On a clear and pleasant Tuesday night on the Surrey/London border, United, cheered on by a very healthy crowd, started on the front foot. The evergreen Moxey caused havoc with his throws, and within 6 minutes United had their first chance as Jarvis found the side netting with his low driven shot. The game failed to get into a rhythm, but it was the home side who soon took the initiative. H&R’s left winger clearly had his instructions to attack down United’s right, and it paid off, with the winger regularly getting the beating of his counterpart. Said counterpart, Crowe, struggled and managed to get himself an early booking, with the game just 10 minutes old.
The Beavers were beavering away, and had the lion share of possession, regularly exploited the gapping holes left by the boys in Yellow. Lovett was kept busy, Ali was kept busier, but unfortunately for him, it was a 45 minutes to forget. Crowe’s positioning was questionable, McGavin, although good in short bursts, decision-making was lacking. Jarvis & Goodwin tried to make something out of nothing, but they rarely troubled Salmon in the Hampton goal.
A fairly un-remarkable 30 minutes of football, but it was the home side who looked much the likelier.
The stench of Jägermeister was filling my nostrils, and it was a toss up between that, United’s performance, or H&R’s manager Grant McCann’s decision to wear gloves on this positively pleasant Autumn evening, as to which one was worst. I decided it was the latter, because quiet frankly, it was an embarrassment to see anybody, let alone a manager, wear gloves on a near-subtropical evening like last night (exaggeration, but still).
United were good in spells, but spells were few and far between, and soon normality resumed. Right on cue, with half time fast approaching, the inevitable opener came. Like a hot knife through butter, H&R midfielder Alfy Whittingham ran through 3 or 4 Torquay statues to cross back across goal where it found Tommy Block, who would not have an easier finish all season. 1-0 to our buck-toothed furry hosts. As the French say….’merde’. Merde indeed.
Half time was upon us, and with another uphill battle to face, it seemed to be happening again. FA Cup woes for the umpteenth season. Half time did get me wondering however if the owner of that BMW did in fact move their car. He was blocking a drive apparently. Poor sods he was blocking in wanted to go to the airport. I never will know if they made their flight……
The second half started with the same XI that ended it 15 minutes prior, and quite honestly, I was surprised. The options were of course limited, but had we of had 4 or 5 usable subs, you could have taken your pick!
But, to my delight, the Gulls’ were buoyed. The half time team talk seemed to do the trick, and it was the away side who were firmly (and finally) in the ascendency. Final balls were undoubtably lacking, but it was via one of said balls, that Torquay’s golden opportunity came. In a throwback to the 90’s, an indirect was awarded just 7 yards when Salmon was penalised for a blatant pass-back. Up stepped Moxey and that left foot to delicately stroke the ball into the net. 1-1. The Gulls’ had the Beavers’ quaking!
It was all going so well. Donnellan was busy, Jarvis was battling, McGavin was getting in good positions, but………..THE sucker punch. The industrious De Silva, booked just 5 minutes prior for a foul, found himself twisting and turning in the box. Contact was made, or not, so the referee decided, and with that, and the accusation of diving, Torquay’s first ever Sri Lankan prodigy was sent off. The pace from the team was gone, as was, for the briefest of brief moments, the Yellow Army’s enthusiasm (but not for long).
Lovett was kept busy, as were the back four, as United fought hard with 10 men. With little over 20 minutes to go, United won themselves a corner. With the Yellow Army poised in waiting behind the goal, Jarvis met the McGavin cross to bury his header past the helpless Salmon (how’s your cramp now lad!) 2-1! Could it be!
With that, it was inevitable the onslaught would commence. Lovett was heroic in his saves, a few handball appeals were waved away, but the Gulls’ stood strong. It was in the last knocking’s where Lovett flung himself to his right to deny a certain goal and keep United’s FA Cup dream alive.
Smith & Tomlinson came on to freshen up some tiresome legs, and it was the former whose superb intervening header denied Hampton a golden opportunity to level it up once more.
As it was, after 5 agonising minutes of injury time, United managed to hold on to secure an all-important and morale boosting win, to set up a tasty fixture with Derby County. The Yellow Army once more travelled in numbers, and boy, did they deserve that!
Quick caveat, had these ratings have been given at HT, there would be some very very low scores indeed! My Dad will vouch for me, I was none best pleased with that first 45!
Rhys Lovett: 8 – See MOTM
Dylan Crowe: 5 – First half very poor. His positioning, or lack of it, raises big questions. Constantly caught out, and deliberately targeted even before his early booking. Did link up well sometimes with the midfield, and got into some good crossing positions, but needs work.
Ali Omar: 4 – Ali Omar is a nice lad, that’s not up for debate. What also isn’t up for debate is his first half showing. Dreadful. Miskicks and outpaced by the H&R forwards. Not his finest 90 minutes. Did make some vital blocks second half though.
Chin Okoli: 6 – Struggled, like most, in the first half. Seemed to get bullied by the big lad up front. Had a problem dealing with headers that first half. Different player second half. Strong, commanding and put his body on the line.
Dean Moxey: 8 – Moxey is great isn’t he. Like a fine wine, he gets better with age. Another strong performance and got the all-important leveller. Just pipped for MOTM.
Dillion De Silva: 6 – Glimpses. Very good in some parts but will want to forget his red in a hurry. Dive maybe harsh, but in truth, had we have had that given against us, we’d be raging. A lesson for the QPR youngster.
Asa Hall: 6 – Struggled in a midfield which was exploited far too often in the first half. Wayward header in the first half nearly gifted them a goal. Do believe his experience was vital that second half however, although I’m sure he was flagging!
Shaun Donnellan: 7 – Industrious in midfield and does do that surge well. Was part of that midfield 3 who parted like the Red Sea at times. However, did make in-roads throughout the game. Strong player, not a bad performance.
Brett McGavin: 6 – I have no doubt Brett is a skilful player. He shows some lovely touches. But decision-making is not his forte. Gets in the positions, fails to make them count. There’s a player in there.
Will Goodwin: 6 – Tough night for the Stoke loanee who spent the majority of time on the left wing post sending off. Tried but rarely had a sniff at goal.
Aaron Jarvis: 7 – Works hard does Jarvis. Can make the ball stick and bring others into play. Reminds me of Keating with his work rate. Lovely header to win it.
Smith/Tomlinson: N/A – Didn’t get much more than 5 minutes each. Fantastic intervening header from Smith to deny a certain goal however.
MAN OF THE MATCH – RHYS LOVETT
Assured and commanding. A real competent display by the United keeper. Constantly talking to his back four, and a very good shot stopper. Makes difficult saves look easy, and pulled off a magnificent save at the death to deny H&R an equaliser. A very able deputy, and perhaps more. Halstead will struggle to wrestle that shirt back off him on the basis of that performance.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS – DEAN MOXEY & THE YELLOW ARMY
Moxey continues to deliver in a season of woe so far the Gulls. Very assured at the back, and provides invaluable experience to that morale-ridden side.
On a Tuesday night in deepest London, the Yellow Army were once again out in force to cheer on their comrades. Un-segregated makes it hard to tell, but perhaps 100-150 in attendance, and finally, a happy drive home!
A few decent players, namely the energetic Alfy Whittingham in midfield. Dominated the first half largely, but failed to capitalise on United’s mis-fortunes (thank god!). Tailed off in the second half and ran out of ideas. Made us work for that Derby County tie, that’s for sure. They wanted that. They wanted that badly.
Decent. In command of the game. One major decision with the sending off, and in truth, he may have got it right. Will have to see it again. Was quick to clamp down on time-wasting (yes, from 50 minutes), and quick to wave away any half-hearted penalty appeals. Didn’t make himself the centre of attention which is always pleasing. Wouldn’t be too upset to see him refereeing some of our future games.
A formation the YA have come accustomed too. The dismissal of De Silva forced a re-shuffle as Goodwin slotted in at left wing in a 4-4-1.
Let’s not kid ourselves, this United team is very far from perfect. The performance tonight, was very far from perfect. The squad still remains threadbare, and quality is required….FAST. There are cracks for all to see, even the most rose-tinted of United fan can see that. The paper we are covering those cracks with is becoming increasingly sparse.
We won, we did what we have failed to do on so many occasions. Win, and set up a big tie. Havant got the better of us last season. Aldershot & Woking have beat us every season from 2010-2020. But we’ve finally won, when all the stars were aligned to make it probable that we wouldn’t. I didn’t think we would. H&R were expectant. A home win would not have been an upset, it would have been formality. And I think that’s what the vast majority of that 1,000 crowd were expecting.
There’s work to do, plenty of it. League is the priority as it always should be, but for tonight, let’s enjoy this, let’s look forward to Derby, and let’s build momentum with a win against Altrincham!
Let’s give some credit to those players for a gutsy performance.