Matty Hayward- @MattyHayward96
Matty discusses the game at Boundary Park
OLDHAM ATHLETIC 3-2 TUFC – MATCH SUMMARY
If you score twice away from home and don’t win, you’ve only got yourselves to blame. In fact, more specifically, you’ve only got your defence to blame.
A promising second half performance with the ball was undone by a woeful opening 45, another addition to the pantheon of poor defensive displays, and a worldie from an unhassled winger. If we’d played like that all game, we’d have scored four, but if you can promise me with any certainty that we’d have conceded fewer than five then you ought to get yourself checked.
A fairly even first ten minutes was punctured by the latest episode in Dylan Crowe’s tragi-comedy of a season/career. The low cross was begging to be hooked away by a left foot. Or just punted anywhere that wasn’t in the back of the net. The former England under 17 international must have been wondering where it all went wrong as he turned the ball home.
Oldham will have gone in at half time wondering how they weren’t more than one up, while the Yellow men should have been patting Mark Halstead on the back to thank him for some fine stops. Moments before the whistle, though, a Shaun Donnellan volley forced a fantastic save from the home ‘keeper and gave the hardy 87 some hope. Of course, the referee decided there was insufficient time for the subsequent corner.
Two much-needed half-time substitutions changed the game for Torquay. Donnellan, who had struggled as United’s only midfielder, moved to right back and began to look threatening. Evans had his shackles taken off and was empowered to roam. Wearne, having been lost in midfield, was emancipated on the wing.
The tactical swap worked, and Torquay played some lovely football. As Will Goodwin made a run in-behind and wasn’t given the ball, he let out an audible wail of despair. Instead, McGavin passed to Lapslie, who spotted the Stoke loanee and found him in a better position than he had been seconds before. A touch or two later, and he was firing home into the bottom corner. A goal well-earned, and a route back into the game.
The spell of pressure continued, and the Gulls carried on playing some attractive passes, mostly thanks to Evans, Goodwin, and Donnellan.
Tom Lapslie, who had been brought on to sit in front of and support the now marauding Donnellan on the right, found himself down by the corner flag on United’s left. We lost the ball, Oldham counter attacked, and Ben Tollitt found himself in acres of space. You guessed it: just in front of the right back position. He hit a fantastic strike, fair play, but Lapslie’s walking pace was indicative of his lack of fitness that had surely kept him out of the starting XI.
No sooner had I stopped swearing, and the Gulls were again playing some Brazilian (when they were good) football again. Will Goodwin shaped to shoot from a similar position to before, but he was brought down. Stonewaller. The thinking man’s Olivier Giroud followed in his uglier cousin’s footsteps and thumped the spot kick down the middle. Deservedly back on level terms.
Nothing really happened for a bit. Then they scored again. You’ll have had a better view than me, but the back four looked typically ramshackle again as the ball was threaded through.
A flurry of misplaced corners made for some misplaced hope, and the whistle blew as Brett McGavin hoofed towards Mark Halstead. It’s not the most insane tactical plan we’ve had.
Mark Halstead 7 – Not sure he was at fault for any of the goals, and made some good/regulation saves. Stayed in the game because of him.
Dylan Crowe 3 – It’s Ben Wynter’s birthday today. A sad reminder of how far we’ve fallen. I don’t like laying into him, I expect he’s a thoroughly nice lad, but he was out of his depth today and should be grateful that Gary spared his blushes at half time.
Ross Marshall 4 – So error-prone. Ellis, Halstead and Crowe all had to dig him out of trouble.
Mark Ellis 6 – Even with his Zimmer frame, he’s the best we’ve got at the back.
Dean Moxey 6 – As above, though was unremarkable today.
Dillon De Silva 5 – One or two flashes but nothing else. Colder than Colombo today, mind.
Kieron Evans 7 – Out of his depth in midfield, but the orchestrator of most of our attacks in the second half. Will be wondering how he was on the losing side.
Shaun Donnellan 6 – Was asked to be our only midfielder in the first half: a challenge that he certainly wasn’t up to, though I’m not sure Jude Bellingham would’ve been. Much better at right back, and was a key threat. Side point: almost every single time he received the ball it was from a terrible pass, and he made most of them work. Fair play.
Stephen Wearne 5 – A bad one for the mackem, but by no means our worst.
Will Goodwin 7 – This season will be good for him. He’s a fine centre forward and will have a decent career. Took his goal beautifully.
Aaron Jarvis 6 – You could definitely argue that his penalty wasn’t a “good” one, but it went in, so it’ll do. Quiet today, but he’s not the problem, and it’s good to have him back.
Tom Lapslie 5 – Clearly not fit, did his best, tried hard.
Brett McGavin 6 – Looked confident and alright today. Certainly not at fault.
Corie Andrews N/A – offered the square root of zilch, and his introduction forced the dangerous Goodwin out of the middle. He’s lucky to avoid a rating.
MAN OF THE MATCH – WILL GOODWIN
All the 7s could’ve had this, but I’ve gone for Goodwin for scoring and winning the penalty.
The referee was either gullible or extremely thick. He officiated the game like a child at a magic show, utterly dumbfounded and in awe of every quite rudimentary trick that the Latics men offered him.
“And up this sleeve, I’ve got a man who has cramp in both legs and can’t roll two metres over the touchline!!”
“Aaaand here’s a man who’s under a bit of pressure so has manufactured a clip on his heels!!”
“NO WAY!! AGAIN AGAIN!!”
That said, he made it clear that he’d blow for every contact from minute one. It took Oldham about as long to notice, and they capitalised. In our naivety, we never did.
I mean, a complete shambles first half. The plan was to have Donnellan at the base of a midfield three, with Evans and Wearne ahead of him, DDS as an out-and-out right winger and Goodwin playing loosely off the left.
The two right sided Dylan/Dillons were sacrificed at half time, and (you’ll be surprised to hear this) the introduction of an actual midfield did help.
If it’s true that Asa’s out for a long time, central midfield has to be a recruitment priority.
They’re better than their league position suggests. Alex Reid, for example, is a top-half striker. But we made mid-table conference look like a Classy Croatia at times.
I’m choosing to report on this game in isolation, because the broader context:
a) deserves more than a cursory paragraph, and
b) is far too depressing for a Sunday night.
We were alright in the second half, and utterly hopeless in the first. We are non-terrible going forward, but our midfield is dire and our defence inexcusable. A few episodes of neat passing when you’re chasing the game isn’t enough, and we’ll need to improve. Still, at least I saw us score today, for the first time this season.