Clive Hayward – @Byehorse
Clive reports back from Plainmoor
TORQUAY UNITED 4-4 ALTRINCHAM FC – MATCH SUMMARY
Just for a while, under the lights with the crowd behind them and the wind in their sails, Torquay looked as though they were about to produce one of those wonderful fightbacks that live long in the memory. Tom Lapslie buried his chance seconds after coming off the bench for the lion-hearted Asa Hall and against all odds we were 3-2 up with only a few minutes to go.
But then a kid centre half ended up on his backside and dreams died on the Pop Side. Ross Marshall compounded his personal nightmare with a petulant sending off and from that free kick a replacement kid centre half lost his man to rescue defeat from the jaws of victory.
Of course, Dylan Crowe’s last minute strike rescued a point, but in the cold light of day United remain every inch a bottom of the table side.
After their customary bright start, Torquay began giving the ball away and were prey to the quick counterattacks that every visiting side to Plainmoor relishes so much. The first goal was so easy: Torquay’s one touch play in midfield launched Altrincham away down the left, the cross went in with embarrassing ease and Lovett could have done better on his near post.
Marshall couldn’t get out of the way in a similar scenario a few minutes later. It was a stonewall penalty. Lovett’s save looked better in real time than it did on TV. In truth, the shot was only just to his left: he went the right way and it was a rare moment of joy for him. Could Torquay ride that luck? No chance. Lovett fumbled the next shot to a following-up Dinanga, who proved deadly from 2 yards. Two nil.
The rest of the half involved desperate back-tracking, unconvincing parrying and we were generally making Altrincham look like Napoli on a good night. Torquay really should have been dead & buried at half time, which featured one of the most inept crossbar challenges I have seen. Alty had rattled it in the first half, but our plucky contender struggled to get the ball off the ground.
Brett McGavin isn’t setting the world alight but for the second time in a week he produced a perfect right wing corner. Asa Hall met it to guide an unstoppable header inside the far post and on 47 minutes it was game back on.
Scott Smith isn’t pulling up trees either, and had an often difficult night, but his surging run on 71 minutes ultimately put Moxey in for a cross, which Asa dispatched left footed and low to the keeper’s left for an equaliser that had probably been coming. Two-two.
Hall was clearly spitting feathers to be substituted ten minutes later, but he’ll thank the manager if he can still run after 9pm on Tuesday night. The fairy tale ending arrived seconds later, when sub Tom Lapslie smacked home a third, to send Plainmoor into disbelief.
But then our inability to do the basics came back to bite us. Altricham’s soft equaliser was followed by a stupid sending off and their fourth goal tells us all we need to know about where this season is heading unless several things change soon.
Rhys Lovett 5 – At fault for two goals. Saved a pen. I felt for him: horribly exposed at times.
Dylan Crowe 6 – His form as a right back is shocking. He makes more wrong decisions than the Conservative Party membership. He’s got some fight though, gave a bit of impetus in the second half and caught his volley sweetly to rescue an inadequate point.
Ross Marshall 2– Part of a woeful back four. Stood out for giving away a penalty, a free kick that let Altrincham back into the game and for reacting by trying to plant his opponent into the mud. If Bryn Ale made Saturday nights…
Chin Okoli 5.5– Cannot give him more. We conceded 4 at home. Heads it a long way, often in the right direction.
Dean Moxey 6.5– Deano continues to rage against the dying of the light. Can be attacked but never stops and instrumental in two goals from left back.
McGavin 5.5– Has a good set piece in him. Won’t need to play well to keep his place.
Asa Hall 8– Another of the old guard squeezing the last drops out of his ability & physique. Knows how to get on the end of things. Shouldn’t really be playing more than 12 games a season but the dross around him will mean that the old war horse will probably die in harness.
Smith 5.5 – Good attitude. Very patchy performance though. It must be hard as a youngster in his situation.
Donnellan 4 – Good physique. Very limited ability. Least convincing right winger since Joe Lycett.
Jarvis 6.5 – Always shows for the ball. Excellent with back to goal. He may be our only chance.
Goodwin 6 – I’m genuinely struggling to remember much from him last night. I will give him a six because he normally tries hard & has an occasional goal in him.
Tom Lapslie 7 – Delighted for him.
Ali Omar N/A – Seems a nice lad. I watched him sign some autographs at half time. I think he’s hit his ceiling as a footballer. Has banged his head. He will probably start on Tuesday. God help us.
Ollie Tomlinson– Unused. Might be a better player out of the team than in it. I’m sure we’ll find out soon.
Mark Halstead – Unused. I’ve slagged enough people off. I’ll give Mark a rest.
MAN OF THE MATCH – ASA HALL
Head, shoulders, knees & toes above anyone else. His two goals dragged Torquay back into a game in which they should have been dead and buried. I sometimes think he is overrated and that it’s embarrassing that he is our best player, But he was. That’s not his fault and is to his great credit.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS –
I’ll give this to the parents & carers who brought kids along tonight on freebies. The youngsters created a good noise in the first half when us more regular sufferers mostly had our heads in our hands.
I say this most weeks now. Altrincham aren’t a great side but were able to break on us with ease and soon realised Torquay were there for the taking. Their time wasting early in the second half spoke volumes though- a side of better quality would have had a cricket score and been screaming for the ball every time it went out of play.
Absolutely fine. Credit where it’s due, referee Jacob Miles and his team had a good night. He let a fair amount go in wet conditions and the red card was correct.
4-4-2. Tactics are never my strength but if your wing backs can’t really get up and down I never see the point of 5 at the back. Let’s be honest, tactics are the least of our problems. We’ve got a midfield that can’t do the ugly stuff and a horribly inexperienced and naïve group of defenders. Our two goalkeepers neither have nor inspire confidence and it’s a recipe for relegation.
“It was a great game for the neutrals, Brian.” For those of us watching their club slide back towards amateur football, however, Torquay’s ongoing defensive frailties cause huge concern. There is some spirit there, for sure, but at present we can’t keep a lead and couldn’t defend our way into a distillery!