Danny Burnell – @dannyburnell_92
Danny discusses the win at Plainmoor
TORQUAY UNITED 1-0 MAIDSTONE UNITED – MATCH SUMMARY
A match which produced very little quality and few chances was decided by a moment of magic from Gulls’ top goalscorer Aaron Jarvis. All talk pre-match hindered around the ‘must win’ nature of this clash as the winner would inevitably see the gap to 20th place close, whilst the losers would firmly cement their place at the route of the table. The Stones came into this match off the back of 9 straight league defeats, with brief respite in the FA Trophy in between. The Gulls’ were looking for back-to-back league wins for the first time this season.
Two of the recent new recruits made starts, in the form of Nico Lawrence & Tope Fadahunsi. Jacob Mensah was made to settle for the bench against his former side, with James Crole the unlucky loanee to miss out on the matchday squad. Captain Hall was absent once more, but veteran Moxey returned to the XI to skipper the side.
It was a first half which would have made watching paint dry exciting. Torquay failed to really test the league’s leakiest defence. Moxey’s cross-shot from a free-kick forced Stone’s keeper Dan Barden into a save, but other than that, both goalmouths were unharmed. The visitors had flurries, but Halstead’s jersey remained largely intact as the game petered out to a very drab goalless half time interval. Boos rang around Plainmoor as Referee David Richardson brought the half to a close, and who could blame them. There were concerns on the match reporting front, how best I could cover a match with so little going on! It was every bit a 22nd vs 24th bottom of the table clash. There’s no doubt Stones’ would be the happier of the two sides as the sides trudged off down the tunnel. A draw for either side would do very little for their relegation cause, but you always felt Maidstone’s plan was to stay in the contest, and nick it late on.
United’s best chance came just 3 minutes after the restart as Shaun Donnellan met a Moxey free-kick to force the first meaningful save of the match. It was increasingly evident that if the Gulls’ were going to produce something it was going to come down the right hand side. The Sri Lankan dynamite, Dillon De Silva, reeked havoc against the Maidstone left-back, and had him firmly ‘on-toast’. Several times the QPR loanee proved to be the best outlet, with speed, and trickery in abundance, making waves through the parting Stones’ defence, De Silva jinked through one, two, then three, but saw his shot sail just over into the Family Stand.
Jarvis was next to test the opposition keeper. Evans chipped ball saw Jarvis through on goal, but it was Barden who was equal to it to prevent the opening goal of the game. The rebound came too quick for Wyatt to react as it remained goalless going into the dying embers of the match. Hanson replaced the disappointing Aguiar 15 minutes from time as United pushed for that crucial 3 points. News of favourable results in and around the relegation zone meant a late winner for either side here could be season defining.
With the clock ticking onto 79 minutes, for the first time in the match a moment of class was witnessed. A rare bit of link up between Torquay’s front two saw Sutton loanee Fadahunsi release Jarvis through on goal. With the angle un-favourable for the United #9, and on his weaker side, it was odds on the keeper would once again come out on top. O’ ye of little faith as Jarvis struck the ball with aplomb, past the hapless stopper, and into the net to send the Yellow Army into ecstasy. A fine strike and just rewards for the striker who continued to battle hard all afternoon.
It was not-so-much backs against the walls in the final 10 minutes, as the Kent side offered the grand sum of zilch going forward. Evans had a half-chance to wrap the game up as we approached a dubious 6 minutes of added on time. But as we ticked over to 95/96 minutes, the visitors did eventually turn up the heat with a succession of corners. It was keeper in the box time as United threw bodies on the line to prevent an equaliser. The man in the middle played well over the allotted time, much to the dismay of some in block G of Bristows, but it weas relief all round when the whistle finally blew. Stones’ players hit the deck in dismay as they fell to a very worrying 10th straight league defeat, knowing their chances of survival decrease with every passing week. In contrast, it was joy all round at Plainmoor as the job, whilst not pretty, was done. The result proved even more vital with the wins for Gateshead and Yeovil, but the Gulls’ move to within striking distance of that all important (who thought we’d be saying that in August) 20th spot.
Two teams who proved exactly why they are where there are in the table, but its points not performances at this pivotal stage of the season. Only a second win over Maidstone, and our first since 1989. A bogey side more often the not, but it was the United of the Devon persuasion who were all smiles!
Halstead: 7 – A game where he was much of a spectator, but did what he needed to on occasions, and comfortably commanded the area. Didn’t put a foot wrong.
Donnellan: 6 – A real upturn in performances from the utility-man in recent months, but not his best performance yesterday. Was OK, without really excelling. An awful foul-throw mid way through the second half summed up the game…
Lawrence: 7 – A shaky start from the Southampton loanee and on course for a much lower rating come half time. But considerably improved in the second 45, winning his battles on the floor, and in the air. Mature second half performance from the 19 year old.
Moxey: 7 – His influence and experience in the team remains vital. Did what he needed to, and a pro at winning ‘free-kicks’ when we need them!
De Silva: 7 – See MOTM below.
Wyatt: 6 – Tried, as he often does, but fairly anonymous throughout his 89 minute spell. An out ‘n’ out full back who is being asked to provide the team with our sole width down the left. Not his job, but he tries hard.
Aguiar: 4 – Very disappointing from the Swindon loanee. Came with a great reputation, but has yet to flourish in yellow. Too slow on the ball, and often making the wrong decisions.
Evans: 6 – A conundrum is Evans. Again, tries very hard, and thought he was one of the better players in a awful first half. Get’s into good positions to receive the ball, but often lacks that final quality.
Lapslie: 7 – Best of the midfield trio. A typical energetic Lapslie performance who will run through brick walls for any manager.
Fadashuni: 5 – Not a fantastic debut for the frontman, but Gulls’ fans will be hoping he improves as he gets up to match sharpness. First touch was off and didn’t make a lot stick.
Jarvis: 7 – Sponsors MOTM, and just pipped to my MOTM. Will certainly have better days, but took his goal superbly. A very intelligent footballer which can’t be understated, particularly with his strength and ability to win free-kicks.
Hanson: 6 – Came on for Aguair, and to be fair to the lad, put himself about, including a crunching tackle in front of the pop.
Marshall/Crowe: N/A – Very late subs.
MAN OF THE MATCH – DILLON DE SILVA
In a match where nobody shone enough to achieve more than a 7/10, DDS was the brightest of sparks on a cold and dismal day at TQ1. The only natural winger on the pitch, and it showed with his pace, and ability to beat his man. Probably didn’t utilise him enough as he had the LB in his pocket, but a solid performance from the youngster none the less who continues to impress the yellow faithful. In a season where loanees have been very much hit ‘n’ miss, QPR have come up trumps once again.
United need to be cute when it comes to winning free-kicks, and in Moxey and Jarvis, we have two of the best in the business. Intelligence goes along way in football and when you need to alleviate that pressure, you can usually count on the experience of Moxey, and the know-how of Jarvis. I can’t empthasise how important that is to a team in our position.
As always, we can’t forgot the Yellow Army in all of this. In superb voice throughout much of the match when the entertainment was lacking. Over 2,000 inside Plainmoor to witness a vital 3 points.
Didn’t allow the game to flow much as he tried out his new whistle from Christmas. Stop-start throughout the 90, and perhaps missed a penalty for a foul on Tope. Played well over the allotted 6 minutes as it was backs to the walls in the final seconds. Will have worse referees i’m sure, but not overly impressed with the man in the middle, but then again, I rarely am.
A back three which saw Lawrence in the middle of Moxey and Donnellan. Wyatt and De Silva provided the width, with Evans slightly more advanced than Lapslie and Aguiar. Tope and Jarvis played as a front 2. Hanson for Aguiar was a straight swap, not really sure what happened when Crowe and Marshall came on, it was all about defending! With the absence of Hall, there was a noticeable lack of height in the middle, which against better opposition, probably would have been exploited.
George Elokobi has got a job on his hands there. The interim boss and former Wolves powerhouse hasn’t exactly flourished since taking the reigns earlier in the month. They won the NLS last season by a comfortable distance, but the yo-yo club have proved the step up to the NL shouldn’t always be taken for granted. I’m sure they will hire a new manager soon, and whether that gives them a ‘bounce’ will dictate where they will finish the season. On that viewing, they lacked quality in all areas, and look certs for the swift return south.
3 points is 3 points. I don’t care how we get them at this stage of the season quite frankly. A distinct lack of quality from both sides which shows in their league positions respectively. If United can build on this, then we have a hope to escape the drop. Woking & Notts County are different kettles of fish. Play like that against either of those two sides, and we will be punished. Scunthorpe, Yeovil & Gateshead have all come to Plainmoor this season and left with a share of spoils, and for 78 minutes yesterday, it looked like that trend would continue. It’s surprising to hear it’s just one defeat in twelve at TQ1, which points to things going in the right direction, but draws need to be turned into wins. If we have improved on our 25 point haul come 5.15pm next Saturday evening I will quite frankly be amazed but stranger things have happened. The boys will have confidence as they enter a period of 5 home games out of their next 6. Momentum is key. There are some awful teams in this division, we need to be better than just 4 of them. COYY!