Clive Hayward – @Byehorse
Clive discusses the game at Plainmoor
TORQUAY UNITED 1-2 BARNET FC – MATCH SUMMARY
A hard fought last 16 match saw United knocked out of the FA Trophy by Barnet, a club we have normally struggled against in recent years. Perhaps it’s still karma for the Underhill Great Escape of 2001.
Big and physical up front, Barnet took no prisoners and caught us cold, Harry Smith giving Halstead no chance with a soaring far post header. The same man would get across his marker to convert at the near post just before the hour mark, effectively dampening the mood just 2 minutes after Kieron Evans had equalised with one of those free kicks aimed at the back stick which goes in after eluding strikers and defence alike. It was an overdue first goal in yellow for him.
There was, again, no shortage of effort from the home side but the play-off contenders from leafy North London had a little too much, and should also start favourites when league points are on the line this time next week.
With Asa Hall again absent with what we must now presume is a long-term injury (the silence from the club is deafening), the deckchairs were shuffled in midfield, with McGavin preferred to Hanson. Neither I feel are going to make it as pros, and it is well beyond the capabilities of the more durable Tom Lapslie to compensate for the lack of any attacking spark. There was additional worry with the early loss of young striker Lewis Collins, who was eventually stretchered to the dressing rooms after a lively start to the game. His pace was missed, and I hope he is able to recover quickly.
Every team in the National League knows how to waste time and Barnet were no exception, with some poor acting interspersed with glacial set pieces. Ironically, it was from free kicks and corners that they were a consistent threat, and a third goal wouldn’t have been a huge surprise.
1. Mark Halstead 6 – GK
Just about survived a serious bombardment. Managed to get out of trouble late on when attempting to dribble his way upfield. Barnet’s keeper was much more assured under the high ball.
16. Shaun Donnellan 6 – CB
Gave the ball away for the first goal. Never gave up though, and isn’t now the sort of player to cause Aaron Downes to have too many sleepless nights.,
19. Nico Lawrence 7 – CB
Given a very tough examination this afternoon by Smith and Barnet’s top scorer Nicke Kabamba. Won most of his headers and it wouldn’t have been pretty without him today. He’s excellent on the ball and does give us some hope.
21. Dean Moxey 6 – CB
Fully employed throughout. 100% effort and that underlying ability and muscle memory means he remains an integral part of the team.
15. Ben Wyatt 5.5 – LWB
Another disappointing wing back display. The lad doesn’t seem to have too many attacking impulses and could only ever move sideways (at best) when in possession.
27. Dillon De Silva 6 – RWB
A good early cross for Jarvis to hit the bar and a late, exciting run and shot, but nothing else from Dillon today. No lack of effort but another disappointing afternoon at wing back for the man-bunned QPR starlet.
4. Tom Lapslie 7 – MF
Couldn’t build on his goal last week. A couple of attempts today owed more to bricklaying than Bryan Robson. Hunted the ball down non-stop, and deserves much more support in what can only laughingly be described as our engine room.
14. Brett McGavin 4.5 – MF
Preferred to Hanson in much the same way that chlamydia is better than syphilis. Honestly, he is one of the most frustrating footballers we’ve ever had. A giveaway in the first half followed by a desperate foul just as his opponent was disappearing over the horizon was today’s lowlight. He continues to need too much time to bring a ball under control and if further evidence of our midfield weakness were needed, he was replaced by our 15th choice centre half as we tried to press for a late equaliser!
11. Kieron Evans 6.5 – MF
Not too bad today, Did try to spark and pleased he got a bit of luck with the goal.
9. Aaron Jarvis 6.5 – ST
What you see is what you get. Everyone playing against Aaron knows they have been in a battle. Little real service again and ultimately drew another blank.
31. Lewis Collins 6.5 – ST
A real shame about his injury today. Looked quite sharp, and is by a distance our fastest player. Took down a Halstead punt with ease out wide, and might have caused Barnet more problems if he had stayed on.
10. Tope Fadahunsi 5.5 – ST
There was one glimpse of what he might be able to do in the first half when he got turned and went on a bustling run before being hauled down cynically (mind you, Moxey did something very similar in the second half). It was a tough afternoon for Tope though, normally under pressure with his back to goal.
2 Dylan Crowe 7 – RWB
A decent contribution. He did get forward from right wing-back (DDS swapping to the left), he did want the ball and did supply some crosses, forcing at least two corners. This may be the best I’ve seen from him.
6 Ross Marshall N/A – CB
If injury time doesn’t count, he doesn’t qualify for a mark because of our ten minute rule, but no dramas: he came into the back three to release Donnellan forward..
MAN OF THE MATCH – TOM LAPSLIE
This is proper “pin the tail on the donkey” territory! Halstead wasn’t commanding, none of the back five had brilliant games, we offered little genuine threat upfront and the least said about the midfield the better.
On balance I suppose Lawrence and Lapslie have the strongest claims and despite one of his shots leading to chlorine soaking the match ball, Tom can have the award.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS – NICO LAWRENCE
Let’s go off piste and give this to Lewis Collins for early attitude and pace. Nico Lawrence won’t have many more difficult afternoons this season but coped pretty well, He will be learning a lot during his spell at Plainmoor, although he won’t get a medal if he does help us up to the Holy Grail of 20th in the division.
Decent, I thought. Referee Scott Jackson dished out 8 yellow cards to players (3 to us, 5 to them) and a richly-deserved one for their manager. The highlight was a theatrical brandishing at, I think, Moussa Diarra, who went down as if snipered, only to spring to his feet grinning when the diminutive female physio got within rubbing distance. It was good to see.
Wing backs again, but they offered precious little in attack. We are certainly a lot more solid than in the early months of the season, but we continue to struggle to score goals and draws won’t keep us up. There is a crying need for a mobile midfielder who can pass, shoot and even get into the opposition box, but I doubt he’s coming any time soon.
Shithouse, both in the physical, “built like a brick…” sense and in the quality of their time wasting. Feigning injury, dawdling over their set pieces and kicking the ball away all featured prominently, despite the referee being on their case (see below).
Of course they would be dark horses for promotion given what they’re up against at the top of the division (remember that?), but in knock-out football (a la playoffs) they give themselves a real chance.
Barnet’s winning goal was one of those Plainmoor moments which are ever-present, like death and taxes. I’ve been seeing them since the 1970s. We scrap our way back into a game, it all starts to feel possible again, and 120 seconds later we switch off and concede.
I was really getting into our Trophy run. A win today and we could have been 2 or 3 games from Wembley (I can’t remember whether they still have a two legged semi final). Barnet were a little too strong, however, and a repeat next Saturday will make our survival mountain just that little bit steeper. I do feel we are going to go down. It won’t be with a whimper because team spirit is decent, but the ship will have sunk for a ha’p’orth of tar. I just think we are still that little bit short- as Kevin Keegan once said.