Matty Hayward – @MattyHayward96
Matty discusses the devastating draw at Altrincham
ALTRINCHAM 2-2 TORQUAY UNITED – MATCH SUMMARY
I’ll keep this brief, if you don’t mind.
A sucker punch: a gut-wrenching, soul-destroying, heart-breaking, hope-jettisoning sucker punch from the penalty spot means that our beloved club have been, in all but name, consigned to regional football. Again.
United started brightly yesterday, and probably should’ve taken the lead in the first half. Frank Nouble – the man we’ve all learned to idolise over recent weeks – got himself on the end of a cross from the right. His diving header needed to be filed under the category of “glancing”. Instead, it was a “bullet”, and it fired wide of the near post.
On the stroke of half-time, the hosts broke away in front of their gaggle of teenage fans, and a tidy finish from Regan Linney put the Robins ahead going into the break.
How many ‘rockets’ can you take from a man who has, presumably, been giving them out all season? It turns out, the answer is ‘one more’.
The Gulls looked alright in the first half, but in the second they were more than lively. It took until the hour-mark for Asa Hall to poke home from a corner, and suddenly night turned to day, from shame came opportunity, the dead came back to life.
The rejuvenation was completed ten minutes later, when the skipper chested one down and belted the ball into the far corner. Truly one of *the* great goals to be privileged enough to witness, scored by a man for whom scoring big goals in big games is a habit.
And that should’ve been that. Not safety, not elation, but hope, life support. It wasn’t to be. Nico Lawrence, understandably exhausted from carrying this team on his back for months, was cheaply evaded by an Alty winger, and Asa The Brace Scorer kicked the oncomer up in the air. Pen.
Despite Mark Halstead’s best efforts to shake the crossbar and wave his arms, the spot-kick was despatched.
There’s some (quite unfunny) irony in the fact that our final half-chance fell to Brett McGavin. A man who – through no real fault of his own, beyond just not being a good enough footballer for this level – has become a symbol of this season. A symbol of a swathe of awful signings, of budgets being trimmed, of gutless midfield, of woeful defensive naivety, Brett was brought on for what felt like the final kick of the game. A free kick, 22 yards out, in front of the away fans. Who better?
You know the ending, though. The free kick whizzed a yard or so wide and that was that. A draw from the hands of victory. Again.
1. GK: Mark Halstead – 7
Can’t fault him, nor enormously praise him. Made one good save onto the crossbar in the second half.
16. CB: Shaun Donnellan – 7
A broadly decent game.
19. CB: Nico Lawrence – 6
Didn’t dominate like he has done recently. None of this is his fault.
15. CB: Ben Wyatt – 6
27. RWB: Jack Stobbs – 7
Did really well to create himself a lot of crossing opportunities, but none of them really came off. Shame. Definitely a good footballer.
8. MF: Asa Hall – 7
In ninety minutes, it would’ve been a 9.5. But then he gave the penalty away. It was all very sad.
4. MF: Tom Lapslie – 6
At least he was half-fit this time. Inoffensive.
28. MF: Kevin Dawson – 6
31. LWB: Lewis Collins – 6
Didn’t really notice him. Did ok.
45. ST: Frank Nouble – 7
Looked absolutely ruined at the start, then got shoved into an advertising board and added ‘knackered back’ to the list of injuries he was carrying. Was still decent with his back to goal.
9. ST: Aaron Jarvis – 7
Not at his best, but still fashioned chances from nothing. None of this is his fault either.
11. MF: Kieron Evans (for Lapslie 83) – 6
Came on as spare legs for the last fifteen minutes. Wanted the free kick at the end, but was overruled by Uncle Brett.
14. MF: Brett McGavin (for Wyatt 90) – N/A
I genuinely feel sorry for him. His name, along with Ryan Hanson’s, has sort of become shorthand for everything that’s gone wrong with the club all season. Speak to anyone and, within seconds of the words “shocking recruitment in the summer”, they’ll say “Brett McGavin”. It’s not really his fault – it’s not that he doesn’t try – he’s just not up to it. Nor are many of them.
Not Used: Rhys Lovett, Dylan Crowe, Ali Omar
MAN OF THE MATCH – ASA HALL
I don’t know? If this was a normal game, you’d say Asa for the two fantastic goals. But, ultimately, he made the foul that sent us down. Do two rights and a wrong make one right? Yeah, probably. Asa gets it then.
The officials were fine. Ref had to give the penalty.
Pretty much as you would’ve hoped and expected. The captain replaced Evans in midfield. A warm-up injury to Moxey meant Wyatt came in at left centre back.
On the beach. There to be beaten.
It’s hard to do justice to the whirlwind of emotions that is blazing through my brain at the moment.
Part of me thinks we should sack it all off: think about the club as little as possible, read nothing about the club (sorry editor Dom), listen to nothing about the club (sorry podcast pals), just throw ourselves into the summer and see what the club looks like in August. It might be fun, on the first day, trying to identify all the new players after a period of radio silence, and crossing our fingers that Aaron Jarvis hasn’t buggered off, and crossing our fingers that Ross Marshall has.
But part of me thinks we should be extremely angry. We should be burning things and wielding the guillotine and demanding heads on spikes.
The reality is probably somewhere in the middle. We should try to take our minds off it for a bit, and focus on something else (maybe something that’s actually important? Or maybe something that is even less important?). But, also, we must maintain the fire of fury about how our once proud football club has been trodden into the dirt, we must continue to point fingers in the right direction, we must be members of the trust, we must recognise that a fantastic five-game winning streak does nothing to paper over the canyons of failure that have entrenched themselves in this football club. We must hold the ‘owner’ to account. We must remember that, really, we are the owners of this football club, that it belongs to *us*, not some slimy property developer.
When we got out of regional football, it was supposed to be ‘the last time’, and it enrages me that we’ve managed to conspire to piss it up the wall again. The list of culprits is too long, and the list of reasons too depressing, to be stuck onto the end of a match report.
But f***ing hell, it doesn’t have to be like this.
Heads up, all. See you in August.