Chris discusses the game at Plainmoor
MOVING THE BALL
At the risk of pumping my own tyres, I suggested in the Talking Points after the Trophy game that the way to beat Barnet in the National league fixture was to move the ball quickly and limit the amount of time trying to scrap with them. And so it proved. After making a bright start, we were able to move the ball around and through them, hurting the Bees by breaking the lines and getting into dangerous positions, as was shown by Aaron’s opener. We were excellent, particularly in the first half, at keeping the ball on the floor as much as possible. This enabled us to use the lively Kieron Evans and industrious Lapslie to break through the midfield.
A move back to 4-4-2 worked wonders and helped us to a vital victory. Although Evans isn’t a naturally left footed player that attacked Barnet around the outside, he was able to drift infield and hurt them between right wing back and right centre back, as with Fadahunsi’s goal. With Donnellan and Moxey not breaking forward that often, it did also give us a more solid look to the team in defence. With Nico Lawrence again marshalling Nicki Kabambe superbly, and Ross Marshall putting in his best display in a yellow shirt so far, it led to a much-improved and solid performance.
After a slow start due to some niggling injuries, Shaun Donnellan has been consistently very good over recent months. As the classic utility player, ‘play anywhere’ Donnellan has shown an ability and understanding of the game that allows him to slot in wherever he is needed. He was a right sided centre back last week, started this game at right back in a four, and was then moved into midfield when some large reinforcements came on for the final fifteen minutes. His performance is dedicated, strong and consistent wherever he plays. Shaun is definitely a summer signing that has worked out well.
As identified in recent weeks, and evidenced here by Gary Johnson, scoring more than one goal is vital to win games in the National League. Games are not won that often 1-0, and the second goal is key to give you some breathing space. The early second goal in the second half was key to giving United the cushion on which to support themselves for the second half in which the pressure grew as time went on. The goal-scoring form of your forwards is always key for any team, and the addition of Tope Fadahunsi to help Aaron Jarvis shoulder the goal burden could prove vital in the closing months of the season. The importance on them staying fit isn’t lost on anybody either with a paper thin squad, and Saturday being the start of seven National League games in twenty-two days.
So, with three (slightly) unexpected points secured at Plainmoor, we head to the most important game of the season so far and Tuesday night’s trip to Dorking Wanderers. They are in possibly the most wretched form of any side in the league, scoring only once in 2023 so far. The games against teams around us will be key in the remainder of the season, and this really feels like a must win game to me. Debate raged on the TorquayTalk WhatsApp group on Saturday evening whether this is a must win or a must not lose game. I believe that the answer is both. We have to be putting teams away around us, and whilst not losing means that we wouldn’t forfeit any important ground, gaining it is as important. It’s must win for me. Let’s do it.