TT MATCH VERDICT – TUFC 3-3 Dorking Wanderers by Clive Hayward


Clive Hayward – @Byehorse

Clive reports back from Plainmoor.


Dorking Wanderers play some very good football. They know what they’re about and will be disappointed to have drawn at Plainmoor tonight.

Torquay United have come on in leaps and bounds since the nadir at Notts County less than two weeks ago but tonight was a reality check: they had to be pleased to grab a point from a game we had all thought they should win.

Dorking started brightly, and in the first minute their right winger Jimmy Muitt knocked the ball past Dylan Crowe and left him for dead. It was the shape of things to come, although Torquay were to take the lead after 11 minutes. Dillon Da Silva pinched the ball after a misplaced kick from keeper Dan Lincoln and produced a convincing left foot finish. His knee-sliding celebration took him almost as far as the buffet on a very slippery pitch.

The visitors were caught again trying to play out from the back in the 29th minute. Stephen Wearne was denied by an excellent point blank save.

Although Torquay were nearly able to see out the first half, you really couldn’t begrudge the visitors’ equaliser just before the interval. A corner dropped to skipper James McShane 25 yards out. Nobody put him under pressure and he was able to hit a shot which I thought was probably deflected high into the top right corner of Halstead’s goal: he had no chance.

Dorking started the second half like a train. Torquay started it like a drain.

The familiar midfield and defensive frailties were back, and within 6 minutes it was 3-1 to the visitors. We had no midfield, and first Crowe then Donnellan were exposed. Crosses converted, chances converted and it looked a long way back.

If this had been two weeks ago, Plainmoor would have been toxic and it would have been hard to see how Johnson & Downes could survive such a torrid night.

There is a lot more hope around the place now though, and without ever dominating the Gulls dragged themselves back into the game.

Dillon Da Silva- who always wants the ball and never stops trying- made the most of a through ball, shooting low and through Lincoln on 64 minutes. The keeper probably should have done better.

Desperately-needed fresh legs (McGavin and Hanson) were thrown on, and on 81 minutes Torquay drew level. Dorking failed to clear the ball and a clever looping back header from Mark Ellis dropped under the bar for 3-3.

Both sides had chances to win it, with Tom Lapslie finding his second wind. His cross for Goodwin in the last minute was begging for a finish, but the Stoke loanee couldn’t react quickly enough and his header went tamely over.


Halstead- 8 – Credit where it’s due. He seems to be growing in confidence. Made no mistakes tonight and with centre backs who know what they’re doing in front of him he looks a serviceable stopper.

Donnellan (Hanson 71)- 5.5 – Not at his best tonight. Didn’t inspire confidence when defending and barely able to get forward, On the evidence of the season so far he needs to be at his very best to be effective.

Ness- 6 – I can’t remember too many mistakes, but as part of a back four that shipped three goals in 51 minutes he can’t really get more than 6.

Ellis- 7.5 – Is this too high, given our overall defending? I don’t think so. The midfield gave less protection than a perished prophylactic and without his heading, his organisation and his equaliser we would have been looking at a humbling defeat.

Crowe- 5 – He did really well at left back against Derby, looking a better bet than the injured and outpaced Dean Moxey. Dylan couldn’t back that up tonight. He was a weak link, often resorting to lunges to stop marauding Wanderers. Fairly desperate stuff.

Da Silva- 8 – Man of the Match. Continues to entertain, with great end product tonight.

Lapslie- 6 – Has struggled with injury this season and another tough 90 minutes on a boggy pitch coming soon after Sunday’s heroics were very hard work. He was shocking for an hour (4 out of 10 shocking) but redeemed himself in the latter stages. He must have had to dig deeper than a Chilean mine rescue team.   

Hall- 5 – See Tom Lapslie, without the happy ending. A game too far. Second to everything. Far too knackered to offer anything in forward areas.

Wearne 5 – Never got going. We needed so much more tonight. It’s a big responsibility for a young lad.

Goodwin 5 – See Asa Hall. Nothing came off tonight, which is a real shame because the ever-present youngster offers a lot when on form.

Jarvis 5.5 – A disappointing night for our centre forward. No lack of effort. There never is, but he often had to come very deep to fight for the ball and couldn’t affect the game much.   


McGavin 6 – Anonymous, but fresher than Asa.

Hanson 6 – Slotted in to right back. No worse than the guy he replaced



For two goals on a night when nobody else carried a threat. The boy plays with a smile on his face and deserves every success he gets.   


He can’t do it all on his own, but as Torquay fans we’ve seen Mark go from slightly impetuous youngster, though solid Football League defender, to Rolls Royce. He is now polished, but still tough as old boots. He will probably struggle against the sort of pace prevalent higher up the pyramid and it’s high time he was locked in a room with Gary Johnson, a pen, a contract and a lifetime supply of Deep Heat.


I am certainly in a minority here, but I thought Aji Ajibola was alright. He had a preference to stop play rather than let it flow, but he was consistent and decisive. Also, if he’d been a footballer, his name would have been an absolute gift to songsmiths. Think Earth, Wind and Fire. Think the Reidy song!!   


We couldn’t keep the ball. If you’re going to play 4-4-2 the two lads in the centre of the park have to influence the game, but Hall and Lapslie struggled to get, keep or pass it and were very easy to bypass or run past. We had no Plan B, largely because there was nobody to offer anything else from the bench. All McGavin and Hanson supplied were fresh legs. The temptation to use either of the lumbering centre halves (Omar or Marshall) was understandably minimal. Any striker from anywhere would have helped, but in the unexplained absence of Cameron Thompson the cupboard was bare.


Impressive. Putting aside the borderline-psychotic touchline behaviour of their manager Marc White, Dorking Wanderers should be very proud of what they are achieving. This morning, I listened to “Great Lives”, a Radio Four programme where Pat Nevin got to share for a largely non-football audience his admiration for the ability and tactics of Johan Cruyff. Why is this relevant? Well, as Pat explained, the Dutch Total Football of the 1970s has evolved into the modern tactics employed by Guardiola and Man City. It needs players comfortable on the ball, willing to play in all areas of the pitch, with the goalie having to take a full part. I see the concept but personally hate it. Without labouring the point too much, Dorking are trying to play the Guardiola way. They are scoring lots of goals and are certainly easy on the eye. I don’t believe their keeper is good enough for the system (I doubt many are at our level). Tonight it gifted us a goal and they have conceded 40 in 17 league games, but they deserve to prosper.  


For me, it’s probably Daniel Lincoln’s save from Stephen Wearne in the 29th minute. If Torquay had gone 2-0 up I think we would have gone on to win the game, although it was one of those nights where almost anything could have happened.

The Wanderers’ keeper has lived up to their name, because over the past decade he has been at almost very non-league club in the South East (I exaggerate, but he’s played for at least 10 since starting at Reading). He’s 27, and without ever quite cracking it he’s obviously at least as good with a bat as he is with ball, having spent time on the staff at Middlesex County Cricket Club.   


Although grabbing a point (and almost three) from a game in which we were losing 3-1 shows character, tonight should banish any thoughts that we are out of the mire yet. We have a team which is wholly dependant on borrowed players and keeping Goodwin and Jarvis fit is crucial because, like serial killers, they are:

1 – Dangerous, &

2 – Lonely

That FA Cup money needs to be spent on the squad. Whether it is may decide the outcome of the season and will tell us all we need to know about our “owner’s” short term intentions. His long-term plan is well known, and needs to be resisted at all costs.   








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