Dom Roman – @DomRoman
Dom discusses talking points ahead of the game at Victoria Road
BACK ON THE ROAD
Two weeks on from our last away trip to the Hive, the Gulls head back out of Devon to meet the Daggers. The omens aren’t good. No win away from home for United since 3rd September, and no goals scored at all away in the league since the 17th September. Pitiful stuff from Gary Johnson’s lads and no reward for the suffering Yellow Army. Add to that our recent record against the Daggers, a team who we haven’t beaten since 2016-17 (courtesy of a Kieffer Moore goal), with the four most recent head to heads at Victoria Road finishing 1-0, 0-0, 1-0, 0-0, and making a case for a Gulls victory isn’t easy. Law of averages anyone? Stranger things have happened? You never know? Pick one!
Daryl McMahon’s Daggers team are sitting in the lofty heights of 9th, with 29 points from 19 games, only 1 point off 7th place Solihull Moors. Their start to the season had been inconsistent at best, but recent results have picked up with resounding wins over Wealdstone and Solihull Moors and an FA Cup draw against Gillingham. Notable players include front two Junior Morias and Josh Walker, pacey attackers who have scored 14 goals between them in the league so far. Their midfield includes ex-Weymouth Omar Mussa who was linked to United last season, Myles Weston is a marauding wing back in their 3-5-2 formation and in goal experienced stopper Elliot Justham is the man we have to beat! Daggers are a team who like to play open and attacking football, and a team that we’ll do well to stop. Another tough afternoon awaits.
Torquay’s loan contingent decreased this week as Lucas Ness and Scott Smith returned to their clubs. Both good young players, it’s a shame to see them depart. United have continued to concede goals since Ness & Ellis arrived in central defence, but generally Lucas has been solid. Smithy just got stuck being the odd man out with so many other loans on our books, not the best experience for the lad. We have 3 centre backs in reserve who could replace Ness – namely Marshall, Omar and Tomlinson, or Donnellan could perhaps move into the middle with Hanson filling in at right back. A rejig is a concern heading into the weekend, even assuming Mark Ellis extends his loan stay. Otherwise Will Goodwin will return from suspension, so Gary Johnson can shift to 2 up top if he wishes or at least use the striker as an impact sub, and Tom Lapslie doesn’t tend to stay out injured for long so his return is always possible. I’d keep a similar shape to last weekend, but Gary Johnson may decide to roll the dice to try and locate the winning formula.
A month on from the roasting of Aldershot and we’re still deep in trouble. No arguments now, this is the real relegation struggle we had all hoped to avoid and the optimism we had from the loan acquisitions has slowly seeped away. We have a better squad than the one that started November, but for one reason or another they still haven’t worked out how to win games of football. That leaves us 6 points from safety, and desperately needing to pick up points in December. How did it get to this? Two summers of disastrous recruitment have caught up on us, we simply cannot keep cleans sheets and our game management is an issue week after week (amongst other issues). We’re not heading into great escape mode yet, but players like McGavin, Evans, Wearne and De Silva have to turn seeds of promise into end product and Gary Johnson must stop making excuses and get results. The pressure is firmly on.