Dom Roman – @DomRoman
Dom discusses the draw at Plainmoor
SO NEAR BUT YET…
So far. In the build up to the game against Gateshead by esteemed colleague Chris stated (correctly) how the performance is almost irrelevant, we just needed a win. And so it came to pass. Without doubt the performance had some positives, passing and interplay around the rejigged midfield, copious amounts of good set pieces that went to waste, and overall a game that we bossed and deserved to win. BUT BUT BUT! When you’ve got one of the poorest NL teams on the ropes and toiled so hard to get a lead, you simply have to win. Mentally the lads sadly and meekly lost their nerve, and lost 2 points to boot. Numerous winnable games have come and gone, numerous chances to give us hope and momentum…and we’ve only won 1 of them. We are in a right mess, a team that throws away points in every way imaginable. Painful head in hands stuff.
MCGAVIN AND EVANS
I’ll go back to a couple of positives that I mentioned and for me they heavily involved Brett McGavin and Kieron Evans. The bar is very low on Brett’s performances so far for the Gulls, so it’s easy for me to say that was his best effort. Quicker to offload the ball and get us moving, effective with set pieces (how we didn’t score from one was an agonising part of an agonising afternoon) and also hitting two terrific shots from outside the area, He gives us something different in midfield, and we can only hope there’s much more to come. Meanwhile Kieron Evans was full of industry and off the ball running, working between the lines and giving us some welcome variety. What he lacked was composure and a decent first touch when it mattered, a sentence you can sum up many of our squad with. I liked his hussle though and like McGavin, we need this and much more. End product please lads, our season depends on it.
The replacement referee looked lost when he entered the fray (another injured ref? must be our fast paced action wearing them down!). Yoyoing between giving nothing and giving everything, he found himself in a right muddle at Plainmoor. It looked like a push by Aaron Jarvis before he headed in the first goal, we all assumed he’d blow up but nothing was forthcoming. Then for the equaliser, we all assumed (and hoped) he’d blow up for a barge on Mark Halstead. Maybe Aaron’s push was slight and maybe Mark should have done better, but they looked like two easy decisions to make. Was the second decision influenced by his leniency on the first? You do wonder.
There must be something in the Torquay United DNA that makes us retreat in games when we should be going for the kill. Gateshead FC showed absolute nothing until Aaron Jarvis directed that lovely header into the top corner, a lot of defensive scrapping, time wasting and that’s about it. But of course they suddenly had to go for the jugular and we went backwards. With players like Mark Ellis and Dean Moxey around, there should be enough experience to avoid this, but the nerves of a team in bad form kicked in and the away team could actually have won it. Where is our bottle to win these games? Send out the search party, we need it found immediately.
Let’s be honest, how many teams would have stuck with their manager in this situation? Very few. Sometimes being able to ride out the storm, hold a steady hand and stick with a manager does pay off (Alex Ferguson being the ultimate example!), and this could still be that situation. But the grim reality is that continuing to stick with Gary Johnson is getting us nowhere at the moment but down. New players have arrived, the squad has been bulked up with better players, but the results remain awful. The squad isn’t good enough, but this is also his responsibility. Two summers of dreadful and haphazard recruitment has to come back to the manager, who has continued to reiterate his happiness with the support from the owners. If the backing has been good enough for him, then I’m afraid he’s running out of excuses.
The talk of not enough added time and us being difficult to beat is sounding increasingly desperate and tactically he’s being outcoached by coaches with smaller budgets than us. The players are trying for their manager and the supporters, but the magic formula that wins us matches is still absent. Meanwhile looking up to Somerset, we see Mark Cooper make a good start at Yeovil, and the Yellow Army are losing, or have lost faith in their previously popular manager (see the conclusive Gary In or Out poll result below), wondering what future we have as a football club. Are these owners ready to act or are they stubbornly refusing to make any decisions to replace their man as we stare a relegation battle in the face? Who knows….now where’s those new stadium plans again?