So we next have to face this year's League Cup Finalists. Luckily since their big day their form has dropped off considerably - they have won just 2 matches since their thrashing at Wembley (vs York and Wycombe). They have been very difficult to beat at home, their last home defeat coming on February 9th to Gillingham, but they have won just 2 of their last 12 away league games. So you would think we've got a good chance of a point or three here
However, our head-to-head record against the Bantams has not been great in recent years - we lost at Valley Parade in December to a late Alan Connell goal, and we lost against them twice last year. Our last win over them was in Bradford in April 2011, with goals from Nicholson, Tomlin and Kee. We also beat them at home that season in August - Stevens and Zebroski the scorers. However, these are our only 2 wins over them in the last decade (in which time we have spent 5 seasons together, the first being in 2004-05 in League One). The overall record is 24-15 in Bradford's favour, with 6 draws
After winning our two last home games and Bradford’s form away from home being poor, we have a very good chance of winning those three points on offer that would ease all our fears a bit. I’m not going to think about what the table might look like after the game should we lose this match, its there to be won and I’m sure our players will do all they can to win it.
It should be dry in the Bay on Monday and while the top temperature is meant to reach a staggering 8 degrees, due to the chill factor is only going to feel like 1 degree, so wrap up warm fellow gulls. Being a bank holiday one would hope for a bumper crowd, 4000+ would be very nice indeed, but I would expect the gate to be closer to 3000.
I do have good feeling about this game and firmly believe we will win it, lets ensure we play our part and sing our hearts out and give every once of support we have in us. It really does make a big difference for the players being roared on by the fans.
i earmarked this game a couple of weeks ago as the most important one this season,bradford havent been setting the world alite of late,always a concern for us til recently,teams have come to plainmoor in dire form and rode of into the distance with 3 points.We simply need to win this game,we need to get straight into them from the off,no messing,3 massive points are required,with the rene howe booking scenario on the horizon. As dave rightly says we can play our part,i just hope the players nerves arent jangling at 3pm tomorrow,and pray we dont get a stinking ref as the recent ones have been down here at plainmoor and the delightful one we had at northampton on friday
It’s a very grey looking morning here in the Bay and judging by the trees outside, there is a strong wind as well. I have not been outside yet, but it looks very cold and we most certainly won’t be seeing anyone on our beaches today except for dog walkers on the ones they are allowed to use.
Yes another miserable looking day and as we can’t depend on the sun coming out to brighten up our day, we all had all better hope that team of ours can. I for once do not care if we do not play the sort of football I enjoy seeing, three points is all that is important right now as they will go along way to ensure we are playing league football next season.
Looking forward to chatting with a good number of you at the match and as always hope you will share your thoughts and views with us here on the TFF.
I actually think we are now doomed - in effect we did too little too late and the lack of points and progress after the losing streak was in mid stream could prove fatal. I still hope for a miracle but not sure our cries will be heard!
Accrington are on 47 but otherwise it's pretty much this - last minute equaliser for Accrington, late winner for Barnet, late winner for Aldershot, York beat Argyle for their first win in eons...not only big results but big psychologically as well. As for us, back to 2 defeats on the bounce with a trip to Gillingham to come, and potentially with Rice in goal
I take back everything I said about us being safe and then some. We are back to square 1. On the plus side, Howe and Labadie weren't booked...
A totally depressing afternoon at Plainmoor today as Torquay were well beaten today and we now look favourites to go down. It was similiar to the 3-1 home defeat to Oxford a few weeks ago where the whole team looked disjointed and lacking in confidence. Sadly on today's evidence it looks like we're going down. Crowd 2,568, 249 from Bradford in a bitterly cold Plainmoor. Here we are in April and it was probably the coldest I've been this season. There was also a nasty swirling wind against Torquay in the first half which did not help. Sponsors MOTM Brian Saah.
Torquay had a dream start again on 3 minutes and took an early lead, Labadie scoring again after some indecision in the Bradford defence. Sadly that's as good as it got for us. Just 4 minutes later Bradford floated over a free-kick, and an unmarked McArdle glanced in a header past Poke. A poor goal to give away as it was Bradford's first attempt at goal. Bradford took over the game and looked dangerous with some tricky play on the wings and Torquay were struggling to contain them. On 18 minutes Poke saved and collided with a Bradford player in the process. The ball fell to Thompson inside the box with Poke still on the ground and he had an easy task of slotting the ball into the net. Shortly afterwards, Rice replaced Poke in goal who was carrying a rib injury and you wonder whether a fit Poke could have done better for Bradford's second goal. Saah did have a chance from a set-pice but hit over but in truth Bradford were giving Torquay the runaround. Still 2-1 down at half-time and Torquay still had a chance with the the wind in their favour for the second half.
But just like against Oxford the other week, Torquay let in a third shortly after the break. Again it looked all too easy for a Bradford as a cross went to the far post and was headed in. Torquay did huff and puff but their performance by this time was ragged and could hardly get anything going and always looked vulnerable when Bradford attacked. In truth Torquay did not really threaten and virtually all our players looked poor. Only Ladbadie and Cruise looked half decent. Rice did well in goal when called upon and made one or two decent saves. Knill's just confirmed on the radio that Poke should be ok for Gillingham. The second half was quite frankly awful to watch and we looked everything like relegation candidates and it did not help getting freezing in the process. I am still trying to thaw out. Both our wingers Jarvis and Bodin offered nothing and were replaced by Macklin and Chapple. Macklin looked error prone stumbling on the ball but Chapple did some good dribbling skills. He had one of our few second half shots near the end. Howe put a late chance over the bar but it was offside anyway. Most of our hope during the match was keeping tabs on the other scores as the writing was on the wall on Torquay's game after it went 3-1. Even the other matches scores made us more depressed.
The final whistle could not come soon enough as Torquay never showed any quality or fight to suggest they could come back. A bleak day football wise and weather wise.
Not a lot your can say about that performance other than it was only just about Conference standard whilst Bradford looked like a proper league outfit who sadly for us turned up to press and play all over the pitch for the ninety four minutes. While they looked like stiff brooms from Harrods all over the park we made a wonderful impression of looking like pound shop feather dusters. Once we scored so early I just knew in my heart it would be bad news as we roused a monster and slowly crawled back into our collective shells. Frustrating isn;t it that we have given ourselves a fighting chance in the last few weeks and now all of a sudden look the shambles we were in January and February. So many players under performing against a very good Bradford side who unforgivingly seemed to want it more than us. The three minutes of ecstasy when we scored was the only three minutes I managed to enjoy at freezing Plianmoor. Once we had scored Bradford so easily came back at us it was almost embarassing at times just how easily they managed to get through us with speedy skilful and athletic wide men they attacked at will and always looked a threat and in Hanson and Thompson and two genuine wingers in Reid and an outstanding "thorn in the side" Wells gave our defenders a torrid time for the ninety minutes Labadie and Howe did at least have a physical presence to rise above it all in spells but for the rest it was a game to forget. The difficult conditions played a part but when you see such an imbalance in two sides ability on the ball where all we could do was hoist it high to Howe with little or no other outlet you just knew it was going to be a long afternoon. Benyon ran and chased as usual Jarvis and Bodin completely marked out of the game and impotent. Howe manfully struggling to get some change out of the Bradford defense . We will lose him in the next week or two and its then that I believe the game will be up for us and we will be heading the queue for the trap door. Every player looked frustrated and a realisation flooding over them that individually and collectively they are just not good enough and will need luck to survive. Why Chapell didnt start I have no idea he does at least look like a footballer and a threat while Bodin and Jarvis looked like park players and were totally ineffective for the time they were on. Poke picked up the inevitable injury that we have all been waiting for , he usually gets one or two a season and we were worrying left with our South Devon League keeper to hold the fort though I must admit he did a reasonable job with little protection in front of him at times. Labadie was strong but got little support from Mansell who again was back to the form of old with miss hi t passes and poor weak and miss timed challenges. After Chapel came on I looked again at the bench for inspiration and hope but only saw Loyd Maklin who eventually got his turn and despite his huffing and puffing it was all to little to late any way as we continued to get little joy from Bradford. Its still in our own hands but if we carry on performing like that for the last three games(forget next week five or six at least to Gillingham after watching thath today) we had just as well throw in the towel right now. The unforgivable management mistakes and dawdling about of mid season are going to come back to haunt us and I wouldn't be at all surprised if we conspire to lose the remaining four games or worse still need a point on the last day and fail. After all this is Torquay isn't it?
What I find so disappointing is that after stopping that losing run, getting a draw followed up by two home wins, we gave ourselves a real chance to stay up. We the fans started to believe, we felt that much happier and all we needed to do was keep it all going and make sure we matched the results of the teams below us. But we didn’t and now we are looking very likely to go down if we play again like we did today.
As I drove home from the game I asked myself if Bradford were that good, or was it just the case we were so poor we made them look like a side that should be challenging at the top of the table. I also ask myself what I thought was missing out there for us and the answers came quick and fast. Quality fight, effort and the will not to get beaten, sadly it was all missing today on a day that should never have been the case.
We could not have asked for a better start, one nil up after only three minutes, but six minutes later we are losing by two goals to one and even so early in the game our players looked beat, looked like they had accepted the game was lost and over as a competition.
Yes it was bitterly cold up at Plainmoor today and the wind did not help, but the conditions where the same for both teams and one team simply wanted to win the game more than the other one. Where were the fans today? What a terrible gate for an Easter Monday game, where was the singing? Well that stopped well before halftime and never happened at all during any point of the second half.
It’s hard to find to praise today for any player in a Torquay United shirt, if I had to pick one player then it would have been Martin Rice. He could do nothing about their third goal, but everything else he had to do he did well, catching the ball cleanly and pulling off one very good save right near the end of the match.
Back to that dream start, yes Labadie may have been a bit fortunate the way the ball came to him, but he took his chance so well, driving the ball low and hard across the fact of the goal into the bottom left hand corner. I happen to think if he had not come here when he did and score the goals he has done. We would be sitting on the bottom of the table tonight.
We did not have to wait too long before our dreams were shattered, we gave a way a needless free kick out on the left hand side of the pitch. You could see the way Bradford had five or six players lined up in our box that one of them was going to get a head onto the ball. As it was the player that scored was not marked at all and it turned out to be an easy chance and he took it.
Three minutes later Poke makes a save but sadly for us the ball only came out to the edge of the area, but what a good clean strike of the ball it was and one wonders why we do not have players who can hit the ball that cleanly. It could have all been so much worse; we got lucky so many times and barely created any chances of our own. But we could have gone in at halftime drawing two all if Saah had not blasted the ball over the crossbar when it looked easier to score.
All we could hope for was our manager to lift our players and send them back out in battle mode, he clearly failed to do that and our second half performance was so poor, one of the worst ones I have seen for some time. Second to every ball, failing to make any tackles and not able to sting any good passes together. Waiting for the ball to come instead of going to make it theirs and worst of all failing to mount one meaningful attack.
Branford’s third goal was a simply affair, a good run down the right hand side and a perfect cross into the box and headed in. but they could have scored so many more as we got pulled about all over the place and big gaps appeared everywhere for their speedy players to run into. A mixture of one or two being greedy and some luck saved us from an Easter Monday thrashing.
When we did get a chance right near the end, Howe blasted the ball high over the bar, I’m sorry to say that today he did not look very interested at all.
Why did Poke go off when he did? I have been told he has injured ribs and had pain killer injections before the match. They did not work that well and we might not see him play again for us this season.
With the results elsewhere going against us, this is not a good day for Torquay United fans, but we must not give up hope that a miracle will happen; believe that is what it is going to take to keep us up.
I heard, PeteF, Chapple did not start today as he was carrying an injury. And on that point the other factor going against us is how weak our squad still is. Let's face it Rice is not the best of backup keepers so we shall hope Poke returns soon. But worse still surely it's a matter of time before Howe gets booked and is banned for 3 games. So who will play in his place? It's all too little too late I'm afraid. Ladbadie and Chapple have clearly improved the squad but we desperatley needed another stiker but we are now too late. It just sums up our entire season - too lax and slow to react and I now expect us to pay the ultimate price. We've had all season to find another striker and have failed when it was glaringly obvious to all supporters that was our top priority.