We host 6th place Aldershot this afternoon in a season that seems to be spiralling ever downwards as the off field problems affect the club on the pitch and the sooner this vacuum is filled the better!
Blissett is probably out with a dead leg but LRT and Reid are likely to be back. A few familiar faces will be seen in the Aldershot ranks and they will are affected by some suspensions but have a stronger squad to deal with this.
The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.
Would be good to see a win this afternoon, can't help but think we may see one good half and one bad half which seems to be the pattern of play currently and the team that gets the best opportunities either side of the break will win! TUFC will have cracked it only when they are the better side (predominantly) before and after the interval.
It was a bit of a minor miracle we came away with a point today after sustained Aldershot pressure and goal attempts. But thanks to a master class in goalkeeping from Brendan "USA" Moore, Torquay stole a point. Time and again Aldershot pulled the trigger and expected to score and yet Moore was equal to everything - flying saves, smothering one-on-ones, impeccable handling on crosses etc. There were no wobbles at all from sponsors MOTM Moore today and it was just as well, otherwise it would have been a comfortable win for a talented Aldershot side with options a plenty. Torquay on the other hand were hampered by two first half injuries and had very few options on the bench to turn to. We were already stretched for player options going into today's game with injuries to Blissett, Sparkes. Crowd only 1,788 with 273 (if I remember rightly) from Aldershot.
I thought the atmosphere was quite subdued today and there were only "yellow army" chants in the last 20 odd minutes. Until Torquay's enforced injuries late in the first half, it was a pretty even game. Torquay's approach play at times was very good and arguably we shaded it possession wise. The difference between the sides was that for all of Torquay's good approach play, we did not trouble their keeper. Williams had our best chance with a mazy run into the box but the ball was just taken away from him as he was about the shoot. It's like we look a decent side around 30 yards out but there is no end product. Typically a pass would go astray or a shot would be off target or powder puff. Luke Young had a disappointing match today and who else can we rely on to score? Reid's shootng was weak. Aldershot on the other hand looked like scoring and only Moore's acrobatics kept them out, including one fine tip over.
As the first half wore on Aldershot took more control of the game. Torquay's injuries changed the whole dynamics of the game with Ward replacing Verma (hamstring) and King Kev replacing Lathrope (groin). This meant a huge reshuffle in Torquay's defence with Nicholson left back, McGinty and Rowe-Turner in central defence and Gallifuoco going to right back. Not even Labour's recent reshuffles were this disruptive! By this stage Aldershot had seriously taken over and Torquay were camped in their own half. I dare not look but Torquay survived to half time.
As expected Aldershot dominated the second half and used all their subs in the second half including ex-Gull Iffy Allen. How I would love to see some one like Iffy Allen in a Torquay shirt. It must be lovely to have a winger in your team! There were waves of Aldershot attacks but good old "USA" was equal to all of them when called upon. There was the usual Torquay dodgy play giving the ball away cheaply and it was rare Torquay had an attack. Rowe-Turner surprisingly did well at centre back with some decent clearances and King Kev used his experience to good effect, getting injured on one ocassion when bravely winning the ball in the box. McGinty was clumsy at times and Gallifuoco had a tough job marking the tricky Mensah on their left. Torquay had a couple of attacks and a corner near the end and somehow Torquay gained an improbable point.
Credit has to be giving for the players digging in and getting a draw but the reality is that it was our goalkeeper who was our star performer. Our on field players worked hard but there was not a lot of quality on show. Torquay's lack of options on the bench are woeful and our squad is far too thin with injuries kicking in. For a full-time team with crowds of around 2,000, similar to Aldershot, our squad has never been weaker. Surely we can get one or two on loan? What about our right back on loan from Plymouth? It's desperate times and today drawing 0-0 at home felt like we had just won the league. I wished we had Aldershot's resources...
No Dan Sparkles, Joe Ward and possibly GG suffering a bit from illness, Verma and Lathrope injury casualties before half time, and it was clear that our young team were really up against it as they struggled against a good Aldershot team who gave every impression of being a more settled unit that The Gulls. It’s not often that the KKK (King Kev’s Kiddies) would admit that they could do with a big black leader, but how we would have benefited from Nathan Blissett’s physical presence to lead the line, had we been able to call upon it.
After 20 minutes in Plainmoor’s Autumn sunshine, Aldershot Manager, Gary Waddock, shed the obligatory ‘Jako’ coat, to reveal his smart blue suit, crisp white shirt and club tie. His side were knocking the ball around well, none better than their number 15, who, I learned on glancing at my programme, was none other than Josh Wakefield.
Within seconds of the kick off I had the uneasy feeling that the Ref was someone I could recall from a previous match. It’s invariably the poor officials that stick in your mind rather than the competent ones, and Mr.Quelch gave us plenty more evidence to back up that theory. Nothing infuriates a player more than having a free kick awarded against him for executing a good clean tackle, and it was Damon Lathrope’s inability to hide his frustration at Mr.Quelch’s comical decision that earned him a first half yellow card.
Aldershot, resplendent in a Uruguayan light blue with black shorts combination, played some neat football on a Plainmoor pitch which still seems to be holding up well as we approach Winter.
(above) King Kev demonstrates his legendary close control, under the watchful eye of Gilbert.
The injuries before half time forced King Kev into some changes. The sickly Joe Ward came on to replace Verma. Then the great man himself entered the fray when Damon Lathrope could no longer continue. GG moved to right full back, King Kev the equivalent on the left side, while LRT repositioned into the middle to partner Sean McGinty at the heart of the defence.
Shamir Fenelon, another familiar face, although not necessarily such a familiar name, as he’s been a bit undecided on preferred surname, was thundering like an express train down the left in front of the Popside, leaving GG in his wake. It appeared we’d need to find something special to put in GG’s half time tea if he was going to cope in the second half. But with no Bradley Wiggins in the crowd to ask for advice….what fate would await the decimated Gulls in the second period ?, even if they had managed to get to half time with the score reading Gulls 0 Shots 0
The crossbar challenge was undertaken by Brian from Teignmouth. A re-draw had been necessary, and Brian’s ticket number 08706 entitled him to stride out onto the pitch. A deceptively promising run up, but for whatever reason (let’s be generous and blame footwear) Brian couldn’t produce any lift with any of his three efforts.
Taking a look at the programme, and Chairman Phillips observed that ITV Westcountry had done something of a hatchet job on the club in the way they portrayed the situation of King Kev driving the mini bus to Chester. Is Dave Thomas the final one holding out now I wonder ?, as he valiantly refuses to agree with those behind the ‘forces of negativity’ currently ramping up the pressure on him to fall in line ?
There was a certain comic value in the ‘Backroom Heroes’ interview that took up a couple of pages towards the back of the programme. If you can be a ‘hero’ after 4 weeks working at the club, them King Kev’s legendary status really shouldn’t be questioned. The backroom hero in this instance was Josh Ayres, who tells us that he’s administrator/ receptionist. Josh mentions that his Sister works in the bar, and she’s also been at the club for four weeks. Josh further reveals that his Dad is Rob Stanley. Once the answers are signalling that neither Josh or his Sister (“she isn’t interested in football at all”) are exactly dyed in the wool Torquay fans, the questioner seems to hope to have more luck by wondering if Josh plays the game instead ?
Q. Do you play any football
A. I used to, but I’ve got bad knees now
Q. Does part of you still want to be out there on the pitch ?
A. It’d be nice to be, if my knees were alright. I played central midfield for my Primary School, but that’s pretty much it.
The second half starts, and GG’s audible sigh of relief can be heard by us all, as it’s immediately obvious that Shamir Fenelon has been told to switch wings and play on the right...targeting King Kev instead. How misguided to think that our left back might be the weak link or could be done for pace ! As the second half wore on, the outcome of that tussle had become obvious. Aldershot took off the ineffective and disconsolate Fenelon, in the vain hope that another set of young legs, this time belonging to Iffy Allen, might have better luck against The Legend. Allen ran straight into Luke Young, to which members of the crowd and Young himself, held head in hands in disbelief as the Ref decided that Young somehow deserved a yellow card for this (please, please, don’t come back Mr.Quelch).
The most baffling sequence of play was an attacking move in front of Bristow's bench when Joe Ward played a nice 1-2 with Cap’n Courtney. Ward then appeared to have shrugged off the grappling defender, leaving him free to surge into the penalty box with the ball; however Ward decided that he preferred to stop, and instead start remonstrating with the linesman for not spotting the earlier foul on him, rather than taking full advantage of the promising position he was currently in.
Brendan Moore continued his heroics, as we somehow held out against the onslaught. It was a well earned point for the KKK against superior opposition, with a truly outstanding performance from our goalkeeper the biggest factor in our avoidance of defeat.
There might be an inevitable thrashing coming their way on Tuesday night at Eastleigh, but King Kev had every reason to be proud of his young team as they battled to secure this hard fought point.
As a bearded sage said at the game "I don't know what the score will be, but I doubt it will be 0 - 0". Still what did he know? This bloke even thought that the ex-Torquay players were better than the ex-Aldershot players.
A combination of great 'keeping, woeful finishing and a stroke of luck gave us a point against a lively Aldershot side.