Chippenham came to Plainmoor with a 100% record over their hosts from our days in National League South, but anything other than a home win tonight would have caused further ructions in our thus far jaw-droppingly disappointing season.
Torquay did manage to dodge this particular bullet. Despite conceding two early goals to Young and Bray, ripostes from: On loan striker Will Goodwin On loan left winger Stephen Wearne & On loan left winger Stephen Wearne again (set up by on loan right winger Dillon De Silva) earned the home side £4500 from the Isuzu FA Trophy prize pot and what should be a pulsating fourth round tie at home to (checks notes) Taunton Town.
That is about all I need to say about Gary Johnson’s summer signings, and I can summarise this game as follows: Appalling start. Got back into it (Goodwin). Took off some dross (Andrews, Crowe): brought better players on (De Silva, Jarvis). Eased away handily.
Halstead- 7.5 Made what turned out to be a really important save with his feet at 0-2. Another of similar ilk at 3-2. No chance with either goal. One of his better games.
Crowe (Tomlinson 67) – 5 All I wanna do, is have some fun. But Torquay keep picking this guy at right back. Enthusiastic, but a total liability. His second half injury is sad for him but may be a blessing in disguise.
Donnellan- 5 Knife through butter early on. He’s made progress this season but remains gaffe prone.
Ellis- 6 Did a lot right, but I’ve a horrible feeling we’re dragging him down to our level.
Moxey- 6 Committed. Quite scary, if creaking, and in the absence of Dan Martin ever getting fit again he’s a fixture at left back.
Hanson (De Silva 45) – 4. “You’ll win nothing with kids.” You’ll definitely also struggle with Dover midfielders who run around like headless chickens. He did produce one thumping challenge which got us going on the Pop Side, but which the referee deemed to be a foul & a yellow card. Otherwise, he was lucky to get 45 minutes tonight. Surely one of the worst summer signings in a very competitive field.
McGavin- 5. So frustrating. Should have run the game tonight but often ponderous and a horrible giveaway for Chippenham’s opener. I watched his former club Kings Lynn in the FA Cup a couple of weeks back. Until they got “Reidyed” by a good Stevenage side they looked decent. He wouldn’t get in their team, and I’m sorry to say he shouldn’t be in ours.
Wearne- 7 Too good for this opposition. Managed to take two back-stick chances well to win the game, so I will gloss over the similar one which he butchered.
Evans- 6? I don’t know. Honestly, and I apologise for this, but I don’t really recall much from him. Pretty sure he had neither a worldie nor a shocker. He obviously won’t want this report for his Torquay Scrapbook. Goodwin- 7 Did his job. Nailed a finish to get us back in the game and then a sublime touch to bring down a hoofed ball before spraying it to Wearne for the equaliser.
Andrews (Jarvis 57)- 5 Petulant. Contributed little. Big backside. I think he put the cross in for Goodwin’s goal, although that may have been Crowe, or potentially even Evans. He looked offside, but whichever diminutive lad I am talking about did produce a good, low cross around the back of a horribly square defence. But really, Corie looks like he’d probably rather be somewhere else, and that might be for the best.
Lovett- unused. Torquay have got to go to Yeovil and get something, and I will love it if they do, love it!!
Tomlinson (for Crowe, 67)- 5.5 Was lucky to come on when we were well on top. Ragged at times.
De Silva (for Hanson, 45)- 8 He loves playing football, and I could watch this lad all day. Against admittedly abject opposition he was always a threat. Gave a little masterclass down the right hand side, but what I loved about him most tonight was seeing him peg it across to the left to join in a short corner.
Jarvis (for Andrews, 57)- 7 Put himself about. An upgrade over Andrews of approximately 768% (that was the crowd tonight). The victim of a scandalous booking.
Wyatt- unused (remember him? I think he was fairly poor but must be worth a punt over Crowe, surely)
MAN OF THE MATCH– DILLON DE SILVA
Must have been annoyed not to start, because I think he’s that sort of lad. Took the game by the scruff of the neck for 20 minutes after his half time introduction. Too good for the Chippenham defenders. Job done.
This is a bit of a cliché, but it’s nearly Christmas and I’m going to do it. Shout out to the 15 Chippenham fans. They must have thought twice about travelling west tonight, especially given that they will already have seen their team do the double over Torquay despite our legendary pyro antics in 2019 and that the Isuyu FA Trophy floats far fewer boats than Helen of Troy, but they came, they saw and looked for a while as if they would conquer. Sorry lads.
We have been refereed by Elliott Swallow before. I think I may even have written about him. I thought he was poor tonight, missing many fouls and imagining others. The Pop Side gave him the bird. He was swift to disappear after blowing the final whistle and will never reach the top flight.
Do you need to do anything special in a game like this? If you’re better, man for man, just go out there & win your battles. Hands up: tactics aren’t my strong point and when I’m on the Pop Side chatting to mates rather than perched on Bristow’s I’m not the interpreter you might be wanting to read. It was definitely 4 across the back. Whether intentionally or not, Andrews seemed to want to fight a lone battle up front first half. The introduction of De Silva at half time gave proper width and threat out right and Wearne’s two goals were a great example of a left winger needing to be able to finish on the far post.
They knocked it about just fine early on. Sensing Torquay’s nervousness and, let’s be honest, vulnerability to anything approaching pass & move, they were worth their 2 goal lead. But- and I only know this because I just looked it up- Chippenham Town are 23rd out of 24 in National League South, having won 4 league games. Good grief. We gave them a 2-goal start. Once we got at them, they folded faster than an origami bridge in a typhoon.
I suppose we must, therefore, be grateful for small mercies.
We’ve come from 2 down to win a cup tie. That is a good thing, and immeasurably better than the alternative. But for too long we made the joint 160 th best team in the country look like a Europa Cup team.
Tis the season to be jolly though. So if you stick electrodes to any of my many wobbly bits and ask me to say something good about being non-league, I would say still being in a cup competition in January is decent.
So here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun.