Luke discusses Torquay’s fourth win on the bounce
MAIDENHEAD UNITED 1-3 TORQUAY UNITED – MATCH SUMMARY
One part hate to two parts love – this football club really is the most incredibly unique frustrating entity ever conjured; it is breath-taking to think Dagenham & Redbridge (H) occurred less than three weeks ago when even the most hardened of United fans (including myself) had resigned themselves to relegation. Alas, we now have an ever increasing chance and if the squad can continue to apply themselves as they have in the last two weeks there is no reason this season cannot yet end in smiles rather than tears.
It was clear from Maidenhead train station that the Yellow Army had travelled well with Torquay fans never far from view around the town; the town of Maidenhead was a nice size with stadium, station and pubs all in close proximity – a pre-match pint in the aptly named Maiden’s Head and a bite to eat gave me the chance to speak with a few locals who were quietly optimistic they could clinch a survival-earning 3 points. Upon arrival at the ground you’re met with as basic a setup as you’ll find in the National League, it does however offer great views of passing trains, planes and red kites – all adding to the experience. Some quirky paintwork gives it some character and there is a part of me that loves grounds like this.
To the football – It was an extremely professional United performance who were patient and clinical whilst continuing to demonstrate the quality in the final third which is making such a difference to our fortunes of late. The first half required much of the aforementioned patience as United battled the worst of the conditions; uphill and in-wind – Maidenhead enjoyed the better of the early exchanges with Dean Moxey clearing one off the line and ex-United man Ashley Nathanial- George causing trouble down the wing. But in truth, that was as good as it got for the Magpies as Torquay grew into the game roared by that exceptional away following – conservative estimates said 450-500, but surely it was more and it sounded like twice as much on top of that; not once has this element of the club let us down this season.
I would have taken 0-0 at half time, but it wasn’t necessary – the 46th minute welcomed a tasty United goal – a nice nod forward from the ever-improving Shaun Donnellan got the ball moving through the wing before a delicious cross from Jack Stobbs caused havoc in the box; the exceptional Frank Nouble pulled two men to the near post leaving Aaron Jarvis with a free header – 0-1 and a great time to score.
Unfortunately Stobbs departed at half time, but Ben Wyatt entered the fray and looked just as confident. Another goal followed shortly after the break with Donellan again moving the ball quickly with Tom Lapslie eventually pinging a delightful pass to Frank Nouble in a seemingly non-threatening position – Nouble felt otherwise and chipped a pinpoint lob over the approaching Alexi Andre to make it 0-2.
Soon after, it was three, with Asa Hall dropping a ball into Jarvis who again troubled the Maidenhead backline – the ball was scrambled to Nouble who did what all good strikers do – took a chance – his shot crept through the near post and gave United some breathing space. Breathing space that made the final exchanges a little less nervy as Maidenhead capitalised on United’s lapse of concentration to pull one back – one slight scratch on an otherwise perfect performance.
Red kites over York Road.
1. GK: Mark Halstead – 7
Not much for Mark to do today, but did what was needed well and a couple of a notable saves at important times.
16. CB: Shaun Donnellan – 7.5
Significantly involved with two of the three goals and seems to be improving with every match – solid at the back.
19. CB: Nico Lawrence – 7.5
It just seems so easy for Nico – a pleasure to see him so comfortable and sure to go on to bigger and better things.
21. CB: Dean Moxey – 7
A good showing from Mox – put himself about and did what was needed, might be a little disappointed with the Maidenhead goal but he was put in a tricky ‘should I stay or should I go’ position.
8. MF: Asa Hall – 6.5
Put Mox in the ‘should I stay or should I go’ position and penalised for that but we really are a different team when he plays in it – captain fantastic.
28. MF: Kevin Dawson – 6.5
A quieter day from Dawson, perhaps a bit of an unsung hero today – I didn’t really notice enough from him either way to comment.
27. RWB: Jack Stobbs – 7.5
Enjoyed his first half performance, caused trouble down the wing and filled a more advanced wing back role that I think we’ve been lacking this season.
4. MF: Tom Lapslie – 7.5
A classic Lapslie performance – did not stop running and a lovely assist for our second.
31. LWB: Lewis Collins – 7.5
Much the same as Stobbs, I felt our wing play was fantastic all game.
45. ST: Frank Nouble – 8.5
A real handful and very difficult to defend against, Frank and Jarvis are as formidable a National League partnership as you could ask for.
9. ST: Aaron Jarvis – 8
Beautiful in every sense of the word – a constant threat and seems to be really benefiting from having another physical presence alongside him.
5. RWB: Ben Wyatt – 7.5
Again, as per Stobbs and Collins – our wing play was impressive and one of the differences between the teams today.
11. MF: Kieron Evans – N/A
Just a few seconds.
7. MF: Ryan Hanson – N/A
Just a few seconds here as well…
MAN OF THE MATCH – FRANK NOUBLE
A perfect ninety from Frank with two goals to quantify his hard work over the last few weeks – the Yellow Army absolutely love him already and seems to have settled as quickly as we needed him too. It is nice to see such a threatening partnership and a gentle reminder of the Sills/Phillips combination in our first conference holiday.
Shaun Donnellan – Shaun played like he was absolutely bursting with confidence; keen to take his man on and started the move for two of our goals – looked very settled on the ball and seems to be improving every week.
Aaron Jarvis gives United the lead after good work from Shaun Donnellan, Jack Stobbs and Frank Nouble.
I thought Wayne Cartmel was perfect – there was one possible Maidenhead handball that I thought was possibly leaning towards ‘give it’ but otherwise I barely noticed him which is exactly what you want from an official.
Wingers, wingers, wingers – so, so, so important – I have had my doubts about 5-3-2 this season but with the right personnel it can work; we seem to have that at the moment and with two big men at the front to challenge aerially we seem to be flowing nicely now.
Hmmmmm, I expect 49 points with three to play and a bit of Alan Devonshire know-how will see Maidenhead safe, but they will be relying on four teams being worse than them if they can’t step it up another three or four gears, we really did limit them to next to nothing and even their consolation goal was a tad flattering. Ashley Nathanial-George is a good player, I do wish we could have seen him stay in the Bay – definitely their greatest threat.
United fans before kick off.
A 10/10 day – I have not been blessed to see United win away very often of late and these are the days when you feel most alive; these days make it all worth while. It is difficult to avoid over analysing the table and fixtures but we are right in there which three weeks ago seemed absolutely unthinkable. Four more performances like that and we’ll have given ourselves every opportunity of beating the drop and hopefully putting in place a good platform for next season. On to York in what is another must-win. Come on lads.
One thought on “TT MATCH VERDICT – Maidenhead United 1-3 TUFC by Luke Hunter”
We really are playing as a team after a long grim season. Let’s hope we don’t have to make many changes in the last four games because we now have a genuine chance of avoiding the drop but only if we concentrate and get the odd bit of luck!
Odds still against us but let’s support the Manager and the boys, who knows what we can achieve 🤗
Cmon you Gulls