Rob discusses the game at Plainmoor
TUFC 1-1 GATESHEAD FC – MATCH SUMMARY
The Gulls started brightly, with some early pressure and slick exchanges resulting in some extended time on the ball for Dillon De Silva (working away diligently in the Bristow’s mud) and Kieron Evans, getting his first start since coming back from injury. The aforementioned Evans clipped a neat ball forwards for the onrushing Mark Ellis, who directed a close-range effort goal-wards, but it was somehow tipped over the bar. One for the shot count, at least.
The next best chance followed one of McGavin’s many first half corners, which Gateshead were struggling to deal with on account of the weather. As the ball drifted across the line, no-one could get the decisive touch that would have opened the scoring.
The only change at half time was to the players shirts, and a fresher but unchanged line-up emerged from the tunnel.
United continued to try their luck down the wings, and crosses were plentiful both from open play and dead balls. But with Jarvis marked out of the game on more than one occasion, it was down to the midfield to get involved, and Wearne and McGavin in particular were seeing plenty of the ball.
Jarvis finally did get a clear chance after 70 minutes, and although there was likely a nudge in the back of the defender that gave him the space for the header, he directed it beautifully back across goal and finally broke the deadlock.
No sooner had United taken the lead than they were being pegged back by the visitors. A long-range effort was deftly tipped around the post by Halstead, now facing the added complication of the bracing wind. The resulting corner caused problems in the yellow defence, and when the ball fell kindly to Owen Bailey on the goal-line, he tapped it home and the mood inside Plainmoor reverted to frustration.
Another great save from Halstead kept the Gulls in the game late on, but the men in yellow couldn’t do enough at the other end to steal all three much-needed points. A gritty performance with flashes of neat passing and good movement, but lacking quality and a little bit of luck.
Halstead – 7 – Made a couple of brilliant saves against the wind in the second half. Had little else to do. Was either fouled in the build-up to the goal or needed to be stronger.
Donnellan – 7 – Linked well with De Silva and endeavoured to get crosses into the box.
Ellis – 6 – Cleared most of what came his way (although not always into a good area) but still prone to committing too soon and struggles with pacey opponents.
Ness – 6 – Like Ellis, guilty of a few hopeful balls out of defence, but didn’t do too much wrong.
Moxey – 7 – Continues to be a calming, classy presence and always looks to contribute to the attack. Covered for about four different people at various times. Must be knackered.
McGavin – 7 – Got out of a few tight spaces to keep the ball on several occasions, and delivered some dangerous set pieces.
Hall – 6 – A comparable off-day for the captain. Midfield looked very spacious on a couple of occasions late on.
Evans – 6 – Lively in the first half, anonymous for large periods of the second unfortunately. Returning from injury – probably wouldn’t have lasted the 90 if we had anything of attacking note on the bench. Lucky to avoid a card for a silly flick of the boot off the ball.
Wearne – 7 – Like McGavin, looked good on the ball and endeavoured to make things happen.
De Silva – 7 – The outlet for most of our forays forward, particularly in the first half.
Jarvis – 7 – Battled away against a physical defence. Struggled initially and probably did commit a foul before he headed home, but took the goal well and worked hard.
Hanson – 6 – Came on for McGavin in the second half. Allegedly.
MAN OF THE MATCH – DILLON DE SILVA
Some determined performances in tough conditions, not always pretty, but I would give it to De Silva on balance. Offered a presence going forward despite the muddy conditions in the first half, and kept it up into the second when some of our other creative players seemed to fade. Nice to see the team playing with some width.
An injury to the referee after about twenty minutes saw a rare change of officials mid-game. Could have handled Gateshead’s time-wasting better and was quite inconsistent with some of his decision making.
With no attacking options on the bench, the team more or less picked itself in a 4-5-1/4-4-1-1. Jarvis upfront on his own was a tough watch at times, through no fault of his own. Would have been great if we’d had better options on the bench that could have freshened things up in the second half.
Former Torquay boy Mike Williamson’s Gateshead looked largely ordinary, and were content to wind down the clock and frustrate us. For the most part we continued to play the game our way, but they will feel like they set themselves up well and got the result they wanted.
After so many chances during the game, Jarvis’ goal should have been the moment of release that gave us the confidence to kick on and win the game. Instead, we stood off, conceded a corner from a long range shot and defended it poorly, conceding the equaliser almost immediately. Frustrating.
On a blustery night in Torquay, with the floodlit rain pouring down on an already sodden Plainmoor pitch, I am reminded not for the first time of the subjective nature of satisfaction. What is ‘enough’?
I myself frequently used to remark to a girlfriend of mine that the meal she was cooking smelled delicious, only for her to tell me she’d not really started yet. Going by the aroma that was drifting through the house, I expected to hear about all the various luxurious ingredients that were cooking away, in preparation for the oncoming feast. In reality I was normally greeted by some oil-coated onions in a pan. Satisfaction threshold: low.
Settling for a draw at home isn’t necessarily a disaster when taken in isolation, nor is it uncommon. Indeed, we’ve registered a single-point haul four times already this season (six if you include cup games). But even for this perennially satisfied onion lover, when you’re bottom of the league and you dominate almost every measurable statistic in a game against a potential relegation rival, from most corners won to muddiest shirts, a point is a problem. We fought hard, had chances, battled the elements and still, this was not enough to get the win. Where do we go from here?
Gary Johnson need prove to no one that he is a good manager, but it appears that our great hope for the remainder of the season, as it stands, is that our luck will change. That’s not a sustainable plan.