Dom discusses talking points ahead of the NL game
IT’S A LONG LONG ROAD…
Away trips don’t get much longer than Torquay to Gateshead! Over 380 miles in fact. But hardy souls will still make the arduous trip to support their beloved Torquay United and I cannot praise these people enough. One win in 10 games (was the joyful Barnet (h) only a month ago) and with the team bumbling along to a road that most probably leads to the NLS, we can but hope that they can gather themselves together and give these hugely loyal supporters something to cheer. After a painful run of matches that has tested us all to our limits, they certainly deserve it. An arduous trip towards the end of a truly arduous season.
The Torquay United squad this season has been shuffled rather than properly strengthened, an ad hoc list of players recruited in the hope of gathering together a winning formula. The latest victim…I mean signing is Jack Stobbs on loan from Oldham Athletic. The winger has only appeared sparingly for the Latics this season, so is lacking sharpness and confidence by the sounds of it. But like any new arrival we should give him a chance and give him our support, let’s be honest moving to Plainmoor is a tough gig at the moment. With Lewis Collins out due to a groin injury and Tom Lapslie suspended, I’d imagine Stobbs and Hall will come into the line-up. Asa Hall tried to bring some authority to proceedings in midfield last Saturday, at least with him and Kevin Dawson we have leadership in the midfield, if not legs! Without a Tuesday fixture, some tired legs will have eased this week, we’ll see whether that helps us win for a change.
ANYTHING LEFT IN THE TANK?
We may have had 10 men for much of last Saturday, but despite a spirted display everyone just looked so weary, the players, the supporters, the manager – the strain of Saturday/Tuesday losses has knocked the stuffing out of all of us. My hope going into this season was that A) players would arrive with stronger fitness, and B) more versatility. Those hopes were dashed a long time ago, with the squad looking knackered by the end of August! Other teams have battle hardened NL players who are in their peak and can play week in week out, but United haven’t accumulated many of that ilk. The players we do have in their ‘peak years’ include Shaun Donnellan, who sadly needed 6 days off more than anybody and Tom Lapslie, whose always been prone to injury, plus Aaron Jarvis who has had a good season, but looked off the pace fitness-wise against Wealdstone. This summer we should be searching for energetic players and coaches who can revitalise not only their team but the whole club and it’s support, chaps on their way up the pyramid rather than on their way down. The 22-23 squad will be looked back on with a long grimace and a painful shrug that’s for sure, a particularly sad bunch even by Torquay’s standards.
The general consensus was that Mike Williamson’s Gateshead FC team would struggle this season, and this has proved to be the case. But going into the winter months ‘The Heed’ started to find their feet in the National League, and to their credit have put themselves in with a shout of staying up. Key players include Kamil Conteh, a winger who is on loan from Middlesborough and goalkeeper James Montgomery, though they lost top striker Danny Elliott in January (he turned up at Scunthorpe) and without him their attack has suffered. Much like Torquay their games have generally been close, but they have 2 in hand over the Gulls, so a win over us would be huge in their fight to avoid a return to the NLN.
5 or 6 wins minimum required in the last 10 games after gathering up a pitiful 7 all season. No denying it, we’ve entered into the realms of needing minor miracles to match any of the previous TUFC great escapes (yes even the dog biting one!). Having only won 1 in 10, it’s hard not to stop looking ahead to the summer now, and how the club will cope with the impending National League South. That’s terribly sad considering the number of games left. Three points this weekend would at least lift some of the gloom, but there’s no disguising the embarrassing shambles that is currently Torquay United. A club whose standards have slipped to a horribly low point just when we desperately needed better. Safe travels to the Yellow Army, legends all of you!!