Rachel Malloch – @RachelVillavox
Rachel discusses the game at Plainmoor
TUFC 1-0 FC HALIFAX TOWN – MATCH SUMMARY
Torquay United supporters forums, podcasts, social media, even that old fashioned tradition of a conversation in a pub, all have been a mixture of emotions, mostly of despairing misery and frustration in the plight we find ourselves and the club muddled up in. Season 22/23 has been, not to put too finer point on it, abysmal. Poor standard of football with a lack of a 90 minutes performance, sloppy in all areas, rare glimpses of some entertaining football (I did say rare), games ‘the gaffer’ was encouraged with that conversely gave us very little to enthuse about as supporters. Talk of this squad being ‘unlucky’ too is something that is lost on us.
The sober light of day reveals a squad that had mustered just 4 wins in 25 league games and for every encouraging passage of play, show a glaring lack of being able to hold onto a lead or indeed to put the ball ‘in the back of the onion bag’ as the once great but controversial manager Big Ron Atkinson would say. He was a manager who, much like Gary Johnson, was an advocate of front foot attacking football, a style that in his pomp was a highlight of Gary Johnson’s almost 5 year tenure, a style we saw in the National League South champions season and the so near and yet so very, very far National League play offs season where promotion was robbed by injury, naïve recruitment and a referee that most dare not speak his name for fear of their high blood pressure……Simon Mather. Simon soddin’ Mather, up there with goal music as an abomination in Torquay United’s 124 year history.
While the pressure of only 4 wins with half the season gone would have seen any other manager at any other club dismissed for abject failure, any club with even the remotest level of expectation on the pitch, Gary Johnson and his assistant coach remain at the helm at TQ1.
Both teams had started the season poorly however Halifax have had an upturn in form, lying in 14th place at the start of kick off. Indeed for the most part of the first half, there was much effort and bluster but very little quality in awful conditions. The weather gods were throwing everything at the Plainmoor pitch. It was a half that we have seen so many times from Torquay, plenty of possession, boundless effort but very little in the final third. There was an introduction to Swindon loanee Ricky Aguiar with the young Cardiff wonderkid James Crose on the subs bench. A half that saw neither goalkeeper particularly troubled in a largely uneventful 45 minutes.
The second half saw Halifax start the better and a great chance missed by Osawe after a long run past the despairing Crowe, with Donnellan coming to our rescue. Then Torquay stepped up the pressure, plenty of pressure, with Dean Moxey finding plenty of the ball and the excellent Aaron Jarvis working his socks off upfront. If the weather gods were having a field day in the first half, it was truly biblical in the 2nd as wind, rain, sleet came teeming down, making the Plainmoor pitch a patchy quagmire.
Sliding tackles were coming in thick and fast on the increasingly muddy surface and Torquay continued to look the more likely to score in possession. A very good run and cross into the box by Ai Omar just evaded the sliding Jarvis, then moments later Dylan Crowe tested the Halifax keeper from around 20 yards out. Dillon De Silva was brought on to the delight of the Yellow Army, and then the breakthrough, Dean Moxey chipping in a cross that Ali Omar headed towards goal and Asa Hall flicked brilliantly into the net.
20 minutes left and Torquay just needed to see out the game, further subs were made with the debutant Aguiar coming off for Ryan Hanson. A moment of controversy as a De Silva pass into the box found Moxey who was clearly tripped, with shouts across the ground of penalty falling on deaf ears with the referee. A rare Halifax attacking move comes to nothing as Halstead deals with it. Another chance for Torquay, De Silva again crossing into the box but the leaping Jarvis couldn’t quite connect. Nail biting stuff!
It was then with huge sighs of relief across the ground from 1,900 Torquay supporters when the final whistle blew and the Gulls had finally made it 2 home wins for the season.
Mark Halstead 7 – Largely untroubled but good handling when called upon.
Dylan Crowe 5 – Poor positioning and often struggled, but did have a great effort on goal in the 2nd half.
Kieron Evans 6 – Busy game, always covers a lot of ground for his team.
Ali Omar 8 – Excellent game from our young centre half.
Dean Moxey 7 – Was involved in most of Torquay’s attacking threat.
Shaun Donnellan 8 – Terrific game and some crucial tackles.
Asa Hall 8 – Rolled back the years and rolled up his socks. A great game from the veteran.
Ben Wyatt 6 – Steady game from the full back giving us some balance on the left hand side.
Tom Lapslie 8 – These conditions didn’t phase our midfield terrier, he was here, there and everywhere including some thunderous sliding tackles!
Aaron Jarvis 8 – Won lots of battles against strong CBs and played his heart out as usual.
Ricky Aguiar 7 – Encouraging debut with some intelligent runs and passes.
Dillon De Silva 8 – Immediate impact, got involved straight away and put in some dangerous crosses.
Ross Marshall N/A – Late sub.
Ryan Hanson N/A – Got stuck in on arrival.
MAN OF THE MATCH – TOM LAPSLIE
Tom Lapslie did not stop running all afternoon. Sometimes unorthodox and booked early, but the wind and rain (and ref) could not short circuit his Duracel batteries! A whole-hearted performance from the mighty midfield terrier.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS – ASA HALL
He is now in the veteran category but he still leads by example with the captain’s armband. Asa certainly rolled back the years and put in a dominant display.
Lacking common sense in pretty atrocious weather conditions and dishing out bookings from the start. Missed a clear cut pena1ty in the 2nd half with a trip in the box on Dean Moxey.
A mixture of 3-5-1-1/5-4-1 with the solid centre forward Aaron Jarvis upfront working tirelessly and Kieron Evans/Ricky Aguiar beavering busily behind him to try and make something happen.
Bruisers to the left, bruisers to the right, stuck in the middle with bruisers! There have been some really poor teams at Plainmoor this season and Halifax were right up there with one of the poorest, even though weather conditions obviously made it difficult for both teams. But aside from the odd piece of quality, the Shaymen offered very little in attack and came here mainly to defend – in numbers!
This could be a pivotal moment in the season. Make no mistake Torquay are still in a perilous position and have lost to equally poor teams as the one they played today, but credit to the players for putting every ounce of effort into scrapping and fighting for this win.