Dom Roman – @DomRoman
Dom discusses talking points ahead of the game at Boundary Park
The announcement of an early pitch inspection left me expecting a postponement. But credit to Oldham Athletic and their ground staff, the match is on (barring a late u-turn) and no mistake it’s a big one. It was great to win at Daggers, but this Gulls squad has proved absolutely nothing until it’s strung some results together and got us pushing up the league. With the conditions bound to be testing (where’s my snood!) and the cameras focussed on two struggling teams, the pressure is on to get a result and make us all believe in a turning point. As other results towards the bottom of the NL have gone in our favour, this could definitely be a big weekend in Torquay’s season and we could actually jump out of the relegation places. Don’t freeze in front of the television audience lads!
Gary Johnson appeared optimistic during the week that his squad numbers would be better for Oldham (a), with the likes of Hanson, Lapslie, Andrews, McGavin and Jarvis all hopefully in contention for the trip to Boundary Park. This leaves him with decisions to make. Do we stick to the winning line-up/formation from Daggers (a) or shuffle the pack? Aaron Jarvis has been one of our best players this season, and could come back in to play alongside Will Goodwin. Keeping a shape that balances out defence and attack is important though so it’s not a foregone decision. Otherwise Shaun Donnellan may well move back to RB in place of Dylan Crowe, with one of those afore-mentioned midfielders coming in to give us more attacking presence. With Oldham in such terrible form, the chance should be there for United to be positive, and Gary Johnson will be demanding a fast start from the Gulls to take advantage of home jitters.
One the reasons for United being too predictable and easy to play against this season, has been the lack of players who can make an impact in between the lines. In the last few games Kieron Evans is starting to show he can be one of those players. The Welshman is an intelligent and busy runner off the ball, whilst on the ball he’s capable of making a decisive pass or long range shot, as shown at Daggers. It’s still raw ability and his composure and end product obviously needs working on, but he gives us more variety and opposition defences something different to think about. In an often slow and workmanlike Torquay United squad that’s very much appreciated.
Oldham Athletic sit 23rd in the division, with only 4 wins from 20 games. Welcome to the National League guys! In a similar way to Torquay they are not being thrashed week in week out, but despite new management in David Unsworth and new players, the rot has set in. Key players include ex-Stockport County centre back Liam Hogan, attacking winger Ben Tollitt who is their top scorer with 6 (and recently signed a new contract) and striker Alex Reid, who has already played against us for Solihull Moors this season. They have also signed Joe Nuttall from Scunny this week, but he’s serving a suspension. On paper the Latics should be doing better and it’ll be a surprise if they don’t eventually claw themselves away from the relegation zone, but whilst they are struggling to get going we have a great chance to grab all three points.