Clive discusses the Gulls win
TORQUAY UNITED 2-0 EASTLEIGH – MATCH SUMMARY
Torquay produced a no-prisoners performance to take a priceless three points at a bright and breezy Plainmoor.
In a game of few chances, the home team made and took two in a 15 minute spell early in the second half to keep their faint survival prospects alive and to make those travelling to Maidenhead on Monday feel that it will be worth the trip.
I will get to the match report soon, I promise, but I would like to share a bit about my Friday afternoon and why I love this whole Torquay United thing so much.
It was an afternoon to see people: to enjoy a chat, a laugh and a beer. A Guinness in good Torquay Talk company up at the Royal on Babbacombe Downs was followed by a guzzled second in the Union, plotting Monday’s itinerary. Into the ground at 2.45 and a chat with my Bristow’s neighbour Stuart. Like me, Stuart has a few miles on the clock, a neurally-divergent son and a grizzled love of the club. We both have a keen appreciation of the housery that the National League is famous for. Half time brought another pint and a gas with my sparring partner and definite good egg Rachel up in the Gulls Nest, and by the time Asa’s goal went in I was discussing our upcoming local cricket season with the man, the doctor, the captain and legend that is Vivek Kulkarni. We celebrated like a pair of kids!
The game itself was prosaic, but because it was do or die it was a gripping 102 minutes. Torquay imposed themselves for much of a first half low on quality and high on long balls with Eastleigh complaints that Torquay weren’t rolling over in the way they normally have this season.
A midfield five of Hall, Lapslie, Dawson, Stobbs and Collins took no prisoners and you hoped that we might be able to find a goal somehow.
It came to pass in the second half. Stobbs swung in a near post free kick from the right. It was on the money and Captain Fantastic did what he does so well. 1-0.
The game was put to bed and given a sleeping pill when Aaron Jarvis held off his marker and slipped the ball to midfield maestro Lapslie, who took a sure touch and slipped a second past the keeper with ease. Massive Bryan Robson vibes for anyone old enough to remember him.
That was it, really. How often have we been able to say that this year? A narrow lead is normally there to be tossed away. Not last Tuesday though. Not at Scunny and definitely not yesterday. There is finally some steel in this team (unlike in Scunny, sadly), and it was 9 points and three clean sheets in a week when we have found some hope again.
1. GK: Mark Halstead – 7
A quiet afternoon for Mark. Made an absolute meal of diving to save a first half header that had all the velocity of a floppy balloon. Deployed a cap and
some time wasting to good second half effect.
16. CB: Shaun Donnellan – 7
Shaun reprised his mid-season renaissance, which is to say that he looked solid enough and aggressive.
19. CB: Nico Lawrence – 7
Set and forget with this lad. Won his headers & tackles. Rarely troubled in the middle of the back three.
21. CB: Dean Moxey – 7.5
Before going off with a knee injury, Deano had a magnificent afternoon. Strong and quick over the first 5 yards (which are often in the head), he looked a class act. Tremendous ability to run the clock down without antagonising officials.
8. MF: Asa Hall – 8
Our captain. MOTM: see below.
28. MF: Kevin Dawson – 7.5
“This is what you could have won”. With Asa Hall & Tom Lapslie never going to be ever presents, we needed to get more midfield experience last summer.
His recruitment has probably come a few weeks too late to save us but he can run, he can tackle and he can play sensible passes. A huge upgrade on McGavin and Hanson.
27. RWB: Jack Stobbs – 6.5
No lack of attitude from this Oldham refugee, but didn’t impress down my touchline before the break. Not able to get into dangerous areas very often and
no product. A better second half and a priceless delivery for the first goal.
4. MF: Tom Lapslie – 7.5
Whilst many boys dream of spraying 40 yard passes, jinking runs and top-bin screamers, I’m sure Tom’s Essex dreams would have revolved around
kicking people and scrapping out wins for his team. He did all of that but crowned a good performance with a burst & finish to make the points safe.
31. LWB: Lewis Collins – 6.5
Asked to do a job on the left of midfield. Unspectacular but fine.
45. ST: Frank Nouble – 7
I would hate to play against Frank. He’s physical &, in truth, nasty, but normally does it all with a smile on his face. He kicked & shoved Eastleigh’s right
back from arseholes to breakfast time. Was playing more or less up front with Jarvis. The partnership didn’t really gel & he produced more mayhem than quality. But I love him.
9. ST: Aaron Jarvis – 8
If there are FA coaching videos on playing with your back to goal, Aaron would be the poster boy. He’s been injury free for some months now, and has run
himself ragged with little support. He relishes the physical battle, and would be a hot favourite if he were ever to enter a “Wife Carrying” contest. Centre halves always struggle to get to the ball. He buys time, wins free kicks and if he isn’t voted player of the year I will eat both my woolly hats.
5. CB: Ali Omar – 7.5
Ali came on facing an absolute hiding to nothing. He had to replace Dean Moxey for the last 11 minutes (19 including injury time) and his sole remit was: “Don’t Mess Up”. He did really well. Was able to play with the ball in front of him and didn’t look a weak link. Well done.
11. MF: Kieron Evans – N/A
Came on with 5 minutes to go.
MAN OF THE MATCH – ASA HALL
Asa Hall- Time after time I bemoan his age & injuries, and compare him unfavourably to previous long-haired, grizzled captains. Match after big match Asa proves that my son’s undying faith in him is justified. When you need a goal, (Notts Co playoff, Borehamwood last week, at nil-nil yesterday) he will produce. He’s got that invaluable ability to arrive undetected in the box & to bury his header. His overall play was also at a really good level yesterday. Calm in the storm. Diamond in the rough.
Jarvis & our three Dogs of War: Hall, Lapslie & Dawson. Eastleigh wanted a scrap yesterday, and these 4 lads didn’t disappoint. Every one of
them put their bodies on the line and spent 90 minutes doing match-winning things. The Spitfires were last sighted on fire and plunging into Babbacombe Bay.
This must have been a horrible game to referee. Neither team is replete (thankfully) with shrinking violets and ref Elliott Swallow did well to keep his cards in his pocket for a long time. Just as one swallow doesn’t make a summer, early bookings can often lead to chaos. I thought he refereed with good sense. Only long after he blew his last did I discover that he lives next door to my niece in Cardiff and that she describes him as “lovely”. Laura Brunning- welcome to Torquay Talk!
As a 4-4-2 fan I must say that this formation is working a treat, now that we actually have 5 midfielders who can make that number count and that a fit Moxey can play alongside Nico Lawrence behind them. If Mox is a battered old Volvo, Nico is a hired Rolls Royce running in an engine that will propel him far above the heights of non-league football.
There was less width than I would have liked but we looked difficult to beat yesterday and it meant that if we took our few chances we would secure the win.
Where to start? In this cursed league there are 2 teams that will get 100 points, there is Maidstone and between them we have 21 sides who can all beat each other. Eastleigh’s ball has come out of the bag in a playoff spot, but their ambitions yesterday seemed to extend no further than stopping a proper game breaking out. They offered nothing but time wasting and moaning about every lost tackle or adverse decision. Their bench spent the afternoon closer to the fourth official than his ball bag, and you have to believe they are capable of better than this.
Spring sunshine, solid performance, clean sheet, three points. What’s not to like? Well…how about an absentee owner who apparently is ignoring letters from (shock news) Kevin Foster MP asking what the hell is going on at Plainmoor? Or how about a summer’s recruitment which left kids trying to do pros’ jobs for so long that we now need to win every remaining game to give ourselves a chance of staying up? This fantastic run may well be too little too late, but despite all of that sometimes it’s best to live in the moment, and yesterday was a day to make you feel glad to be alive and joyful that you are a Yellow.