Dom Roman – @DomRoman
Dom discusses talking points ahead of the Trophy clash
BARNET (PART 1)
Two games in two Saturday’s against Barnet at Plainmoor. The second one stands out as the most important one for me, but looking at the FA Trophy draw, with many of the big guns out, this is a slight chance of a Wembley appearance and a trophy, and that should be enough to motivate Gary Johnson and the Gulls players. What we will hopefully see is two teams chasing a victory, rewarding those who make the trip to Plainmoor with an entertaining game. Barnet are having a terrific season and come to Torquay in fine form, win this one and they will definitely fancy going all the way. It’s an afternoon to forget the league struggles, forget the ongoing stress of relegations worries and hopefully see United progress (whilst putting a marker down for next week).
GULLS LINE-UP SHUFFLE?
The limited Torquay United squad doesn’t allow for much shuffling at the moment! Gary Johnson could start some of the subs from Notts County (h), with Ross Marshall impressing at CB and Lewis Collins looking keen to make an impression. Shaun Donnellan is important at the back, but we also need him in midfield. Maybe we could look into some kind of cloning process! Collins has better fitness than Tope Fadahunsi, so it wouldn’t surprise me if the Newport attacker is given a starting chance alongside Aaron Jarvis. The jury is out on Tope, GJ has talked him up this week and is clearly hopeful of him making an impact, but maybe he’s suited to a substitute cameo role. The other option is CB Jacob Mensah who has yet to make an appearance, but unless Dean Moxey is rested I can’t see him starting. I’d expect Gary Johnson to stick to a standard 3-5-2 and field what he feels is his strongest team, with a week between Barnet fixtures that seems reasonable.
DILLON DE SILVA
Dillon De Silva has had a tough few weeks at Plainmoor. He’s tried his usual wing wizardry but with the wing back role not suiting him, Dillon has struggled to get into games. With wing back responsibilities and little overlap from team mates, it feels like the opposition defences are finding him too easy to contain. I don’t think his job will get a lot easier against a well-drilled Barnet side, but as one of our most dangerous attackers, we somehow need to get him on the ball more in dangerous areas to influence the game. Opening up and pushing more men forward in attack would help his cause, but the Gulls have been picking up points by using a compact and defensively minded approach. Overall the team shape and grinding out results is the main thing, so DDS will have to knuckle down and make the best of what chances he gets.
THE BEES ARE BUZZING (AND WYNTS RETURNS)
Barnet have not lost since the start of November, yes you are reading that right! Sitting pretty in 4th with 53 points from 28 games, manager Dean Brennan has evolved them into a strong team with an excellent balance between defensive organisation and attacking prowess. It helps having Nicke Kabamba upfront, the striker has scored a superb 17 goals in the NL this season, whilst in goal Laurie Walker is a reassuring presence and of course defender Ben Wynter makes his return to Plainmoor. Ben has played every league game for the Bees and has scored 4 goals. When he left I think we all questioned the choice of Barnet FC, well we’re not questioning it now! A great lad, I’m sure Wynts will get a warm welcome from everyone (friendlier than Kyle Cam did anyway!) – his efforts in a yellow shirt deserve it. We’ve generally struggled against the Bees even when they were a poor team, so the omens aren’t good heading into these fixtures. Maybe our task will be made slightly easier by a Brennan line-up shuffle, but we’ll still have to be at our best to make it through to the next round.
GET IN THE BOX!
Whilst our form has been fairly good and we have found an identity and tactics to eek out better results, we still need to put more aggression into our attacking efforts. One simple thing that I’d like to see more of is Gulls players getting into the box and getting in the right areas to find us goals. We definitely lack poachers amongst the squad, players who just instinctively find space in the box and get themselves on the end of something. But I think we also need to make our own luck and push bodies in there. Tom Lapslie tries his best, but players like Kieron Evans, Ben Wyatt and Dillon De Silva could also be braver in that respect. Overall the team feels workmanlike and full of effort, but at some point United need to score 2 goals or more in games, because we can’t expect to keep clean sheets again and again. More positivity and bravado required please guys, we’ve seen glimpses but I think we can do more.