TT MATCH VERDICT – Solihull Moors 3-2 TUFC by Danny Burnell


Danny Burnell – @dannyburnell_92

Danny discusses the defeat at Damson Park


The Gulls travelled to the Midlands looking to stretch their unbeaten run to…..two. Their hosts are in a position Torquay could only dream of being, rooted firmly in mid-table with little to play for. Two of their better players in Ryan Barnett & Andrew Dallas had made moves to Wrexham & Chesterfield respectively in recent weeks, as it was the Gulls who were hoping ‘The Moors’ had beaches on their minds come kick off.

News of top-scorer Jarvis being omitted from the squad did very little to brighten spirits amongst the Yellow Army, as Ryan Hanson came into the XI. Brett McGavin, who was originally named, pulled out at the 11th hour to be replaced by new-boy Kevin Dawson. Ollie Tomlinson (remember him) took his place on the bench, when we all assumed he was at Taunton! It was a bench that included a keeper and 4 defenders. Backs against the walls for the Gulls, and it was only 7pm! Torquay United Football Club ladies and gentleman.

It could hardly have started better when the improving Ross Marshall nodded in an Evans free-kick inside a minute. Could Lady Luck be on the side of the Gulls for this crucial encounter….

United were bright and in a fairly frantic opening it could, and should have been 2 as Collins shot defected just wide of Boot’s right hand post. United were solid enough and looked to take a slender lead into the break. Normality would inevitably resume as Josh Kelly’s strike from outside the area beat Halstead to make it 1-1.

Moors continued to push and looked the likelier of the two sides. The 6’+ giants caused all sorts of problems in the air, and crosses were coming in with ease. Donnellan & Wyatt, often exposed, allowed one to many crosses, so it was glaringly obvious when captain Callum Howe waltzed in unchallenged on the stroke of half time to make it 2-1.

United’s options on the bench were lacking. Omar replaced Wyatt at the interval. Another pitiful positioning display from our side allowed Beck to walk, yes walk, in a third. News of Yeovil, Dorking, Scunthorpe & York all winning did little to lighten the mood. The fat lady, as she had been doing so for long this season, was really warming up those vocal cords.

Moors midfielder Jamey Osborne fancied a week off as he decided to get himself red-carded. A fairly tame lash out at Lapslie was enough to see him given his marching orders. Apparently it was 10v11 from then on but you would hardly have guessed it with a number of United players once again being passengers with no such influence on the game.

Eventually, the always energetic Lapslie forced a way through the midfield on 73 minutes and his pass found Collins who saw his deflection trickle over the line for 3-2. If ever there was a time to go hell for leather, it was now.

United remained wasteful. Corner after corner, free kick, after free kick. No imagination, no ingenuity, no creativity. Little more was created as Solihull strolled to a comfortable 3-2 home win. A side with not much to play for apparently playing a side fighting for points. Where are the next 3 points coming from, my bet is Slough Town in September.

Results could have hardly of gone any worse tonight. It’s confirming what we all knew already. But tonight Ladies & Gentleman, we saw a team that has no cutting edge, no desire and no winning mentality. Not that that is news to you!


1. GK: Mark Halstead – 7

Fine. I watched him at Damson Park back in September 2021 where he had an absolute shocker. Improved ten-fold since that display. Produced 2 or 3 good saves in the first half.

16. RB: Shaun Donnellan – 4

Signed as a utility man, probably signed to be a squad player. He’s ended up being a player who has made the most appearances?! Stand to be corrected on that one). Poor positioning and not TUFC standard. Rash.

19. CB: Nico Lawrence – 8


6. CB: Ross Marshall – 7

Good performance from Ross where he carried on from the last game at Aldershot. Showed passion at least, and won most things against his man.

15. LB: Ben Wyatt – 3

Positioning. Positioning. Positioning. Got beaten by his man 99% of the time. Can’t stop a cross. Dan Martin must be some way off fitness. Ali has to come in on Saturday. We have no other options!

28. CM: Kevin Dawson – 7.5

This is a player who has come from the league below, and hasn’t played since October. He’s an improvement on this squad. That tells you all you need to know about our current crop. A solid full debut from Dawson.

4. CM: Tom Lapslie – 7

Works hard. He’s surrounded by players either a) not trying, or b) nowhere near Tom’s standard. Will most likely depart us in the summer, and any team would be lucky to have him.

7. CM: Ryan Hanson – 3

Misplaced pass after misplaced pass. Absolutely woeful.

31. LW: Lewis Collins – 6

Did OK. Continued to try and got his goal. Needs to play off Jarvis who can bring the best out of him.

11. RW: Kieron Evans – 5

A decent enough first half, and probably our most creative player, but a terrible second 45 with wasted corners aplenty. Deliveries terrible, and decision making lacking.

10. ST: Tope Fadahunsi – 4

Just kept falling over. Offered zilch.


5. LB: Ali Omar (for Wyatt) – 6.5

Did nothing wrong. Unable to bring any attacking options on off the bench.

3. LW: Dan Martin (for Dawson) – n/a

89th minute sub.

MAN OF THE MATCH – Nico Lawrence

Should Southampton find themselves in the Championship next season, they could do a lot worse than throwing this young lad in their back line. At worse, he will be at a L1 club come August. A quality, assured defender destined for bigger things. Hopefully, for his sake, he’ll gain some useful experience from being here.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Marshall & the Debutant

Our two best players on the pitch were our centre backs. We conceded 3. I struggle to understand this football club. Often been critical of the sometimes reckless centre back, but he was sound tonight.

A real batting performance from Dawson, who was thrown in late at the expense of McGavin. Not shy to put himself about, and a marked improvement on a lacklustre engine room.


No qualms. Let a lot go. Marshall perhaps offside for the goal. Moors perhaps should get a penalty for a handball. If anything, he let too much go, but I’d rather it be that way round than a whistle happy referee.


4-3-2-1 with Collins & Evans supplying the width. Lapslie the most advanced of the midfield trio. You’d be forgive for thinking our full backs were playing as wing backs given their positioning. Had nothing to come off the bench to add that spark.


Limited and one dimensional. But, they played to their strengths. They have height in abundance and used it to their advantage. Wingers had our full backs on toast, as goals #2 & #3 came from wide positions. At this stage of the season you want to be playing a team in Solihull’s position. Safe from relegation, no change of promotion, and having lost their best two players. Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for them, they came across a Torquay side as poor as I can remember in many a year.


Go 1 up. Great. Go on, get a second, they are here for the taking. Chances spurned and inevitably they allow the hosts back into it. Even when we pull a goal back we do very little to build on it. Deliveries into the box were poor, and decision making at set pieces was even worse. Do we have the personnel to come off the bench to add that spark. No……. Our bench consisted of a defender who played once for bottom of the league Maidstone, another defender who is making his way back to full fitness after not playing since September, another defender who has been ousted from the first team since the new year, and yet another defender who we apparently recalled from Taunton (or was it Plymouth Parkway!?).

Our team, our squad is patched up with Tesco-value waterproof-plasters. Not even the good type of plasters. Ones that work for just 10 minutes, much like our side. We have 2, maybe 3 with genuine quality, that is patched together with 5 Loanees, and a sprinkling of bit-part players that were deemed surplus to requirements from lesser clubs. The squad reeks of desperation and the side put out tonight had NLS written all over it. Poor man management from a manager who has excelled in his managerial career to date. He’s got to shoulder the blame for a very very poor season. It’s far from acceptable.

Question for Clarke Osborne:- I think every fan is grateful for you saving this club, but what about this 5 year plan of yours. Do you really care about this club? Your silence suggests not. You are bringing regional, and probably part time football back to South Devon when many thought it was a mere blip in our proud 124 year club history. The 5 year plan returns us exactly to where we didn’t want to be. The banter era of Bobson Bawling & Gary Owers was just that, it was banter. Why are we returning to such dark times?!

Southend 2004, Carlisle 2006, Wembley 2009. These are all great memories of special days in this football clubs history. A professional football club. We are not part timers, and yes, we are too billy big b****** to be mixing it with the likes of Chippenham & Dulwich Hamlet (no disrespect to these clubs). Call me arrogant, call this club arrogant, but we are sleepwalking our way into a one-way oblivion. It’s sad times. It’s desperate times.







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