Chris Wade – @TufcChris
Chris discusses the draw at Plainmoor
TORQUAY UNITED 1-1 WREXHAM AFC – MATCH SUMMARY
The day that we had all been dreading finally arrived on a hazy Plainmoor afternoon. Could it happen? Could we get the seven-goal swing and win the game against the already crowned champions?
Gary Johnson named just one change from last week at Altricham with fit again Dean Moxey replacing Ben Wyatt. The stadium was full of atmosphere at kick off, with 1200 Wrexham fans coming to celebrate their glorious season. And straight from the kick off it wasn’t hard to see why they are going up. They moved the ball around the pitch, taking up wide positions to stretch the game to try and move Yellow shirts around and create space in between the lines. Their movement was impressive. Five minutes in and they had a penalty. Paul Mullin pulled wide and fired a cross in that struck the arm of Nico Lawrence. It was close proximity but it was given. Mullin went low to Mark Halstead’s left and the United stopper guessed correctly and pushed it away. He would make several more sharp saves in a tough first twenty minutes.
But Torquay grew into the half, with Aaron Jarvis and Frank Nouble keeping their opposition centre backs occupied. Gateshead were ahead, and then 2-0 and then 3-0. Kevin Dawson buzzed about in midfield and United were not going down without a fight.
Half time came and went, and United came out energised. Then. Goal. Nice intricate passing on the United right between Jack Stobbs and Jarvis finished with the latter fizzing a ball across the box for Nouble to divert past former Manchester United keeper Ben Foster left footed. Plainmoor erupted. Could we get more? An excellent ten minutes followed, with Nouble almost getting in and Asa Hall nodding agonisingly wide of Foster’s right post. But United were having to work harder and harder to close the spaces down but also had to stay on the front foot to and score again. And with ten minutes to go it would cost us.
A swift break down the right found caught Torquay short. Lawrence had to commit and try and win the ball but sub Ollie Palmer got there first. He bore in down the right and laid the ball across to Elliott Lee to sweep home form six yards. Bubble burst.
United kept going and a fourth Gateshead goal kept some suspense going, but it was too late. Over. Done. Torquay United were an National League South team again.
1. GK: Mark Halstead – 9
Man of the Match – see below
16. CB: Shaun Donnellan – 8
An excellent display from Shaun. Battled and scrapped throughout and has had a mainly solid season.
19. CB: Nico Lawrence – 7
Fought hard with Mullin and did well, although conceded the penalty and you could say at fault for the equaliser. But he had to go to win the ball.
21. CB: Dean Moxey – 7
His usual Dean Moxey self. Solid. His tears at full time were heart-breaking.
27. RWB: Jack Stobbs – 7
Another solid game and delivered some good balls into the box.
8. MF: Asa Hall – 7
Lead from the middle. Devastated at full time and his tears brought mine. Too much. Captain, leader, legend.
4. MF: Tom Lapslie – 7
Still not totally fit but worked hard and gave it everything.
28. MF: Kevin Dawson – 8
Indefatigable and gave it everything. One of the first players I would be looking to retain for next season.
31. LWB: Lewis Collins – 6
Worked hard but doesn’t affect games in the final third enough.
45. ST: Frank Nouble – 7
Brings so much with his strength and hold up play. Smart finish for the goal. His addition came a month too late.
9. ST: Aaron Jarvis – 8
An outstanding centre forward. Excellent again and vital for next season.
14. MF: Brett McGavin (for Lapslie 87) – N/A
MAN OF THE MATCH – MARK HALSTEAD
An extraordinary final instalment in a season that has seen an extraordinary turnaround. Excellent penalty save and several smart saves. Superb again.
Not great but who cares. It wasn’t about them today. Could have dismissed a last man deliberate handball in the second half for Wrexham.
The system that has been used for the last few weeks worked well again. The width of Stobbs and Collins has released the more central players to drive forwards, and the formation has looked good. The fact that the players are better than at any stage this season also helps.
It wasn’t hard to see why Wrexham have won the league. They moved the ball at pace, their movement was excellent and they had some very strong and robust National League players. In Paul Mullin they have the outstanding striker in the division and they were solid across the whole pitch. That we were able to give them such a good game speaks volumes of the way this team has progressed and been a match for most apart from Chesterfield in recent weeks. Despite the view of some, I thought it was absolutely correct and respectful to give them a guard of honour onto the pitch. The correct way to behave.
Very hard to know what to say. I could write 5 words or 500. Today was a crushing day, despite it being a day that we knew was coming for months. We gave it a good crack, but it wasn’t about today. It was about not being able to score goals for the first ten games, then not being able to stop conceding them for the next fifteen, about the board doing nothing after a desperate Christmas period, and then about signing a good group of players too late.
Football may well be a game and all of our lives will go on. But this is Torquay United. This is our club and what matters to us. What we look forward to after a week at work, and what makes us laugh and cry. There are more important things, but Torquay United means the world to so many. That world is upsetting tonight, but we will go again and have a good crack at getting straight back up.