After the fireworks over the festive period we have seen the side suffer three straight defeats to drop us back into the smelly stuff. Nico has made changes denying Gerring out on loan to Weston Super Mare and getting in on loan defenders Jared Hodgekiss and Aaron Racine to try and find some solidity at the back.
Up front we are desperately light with the only striker at the club to have scored in the last 3 months being Brett Williams who hasn't started a match since November and if that continues don't expect us to take an early lead!
Last Edit: Jan 28, 2017 11:51:10 GMT by Jon: date 17 not 16
The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.
Still very concerned about our lack of goals and threat up front but Nicholson has at least tried to address the defensive frailties and that had to be a priority. The old adage of "the best form of defense is attack" rings true and we just don't threaten enough or create enough chances - unless we're playing FGR of course. I hope Racine and Hodgkiss can lift the average to a better level and show Richards how to captain and lead a team. Williams has to start and I would be tempted to play Harrad with him. Sparks and Fitzpatrick need to show a bit more consistency going forward whilst good in patches it never seems to be followed up. Midfield is another big question mark. Richards if he turns up in the right frame of mind can do the job but its one very good game followed by three bad ones at the moment and I would think his place was under threat purely because of his inconsistency. I would be tempted to go for
Moore - Hodgkiss - Racine - Mc Ginty - Rowe Turner - Fitpatrick - Verma - Young - Sparks - Harrad - Williams. Whatever my mate has demanded I go though I swore not to set foot in the place until I saw some application and real commitment on the pitch. I haven't but hopeful that Racine and Hodgkiss can lead us back on the right track, time will tell.
My education started when I left Highweek School for boys..
3-1 flattered us somewhat but who cares its three very valuable points towards safety and the twenty or so points we will need from the remaining fixtures to avoid the drop. It could easily have been so different if just one of the goalmouth scrambles or the shots that cannoned of the post and bar had gone in early in the second period. We earned our piece of luck today with a hard working performance that lacked any outstanding quality. Gateshead a very strong and physical side were thwarted by a disciplined back line with McGinty outstanding from start to finish. My MOM with a dominant arial display against some able forwards. Sean McGinty has improved vastly in comparison to his early season performances and along side Racine we looked pretty solid for the most part though it all looked like it was going to go horribly wrong again when Racine took a lunge at a ball he was never going to get and gave a way a penalty injuring himself in the process. As he hobbled off towards the changing room young Rooney took his place for the first time in his favored position in the middle of defense and within just a few minutes of coming on guided the ball with a deft touch in to goal after a free kick was perfectly swung in from the right by Luke Young. Rooney went on to perform very well and looks to be a great prospect. As we continued to ride our luck at times there was a ten minute period when it looked inevitable that Gateshead would score again and go on to win the game whilst we had to rely on breaks or punting the ball to Williams who battled valiantly but often failed to hold the ball up. However the game was wrapped up in the closing minutes after a great run and shot from the aforementioned. 3-1 and game over with breathing space. Thank God for that. Some of the plusses from to toady include a solid and energetic display from Luke Young. The re-arrival of Damon Lathrope after a long term injury and Gallifuoco on the bench and a fullback in Hodgkiss who actually looks like a full back!. Moore was excellent again and almost saved a very well struck pen. Fitzpatricks' opener was very well srtruck and set us o the road to victory and credit to e ref for allowing the play to continue after Sparks was flattened making the pass out of defense. Reasonably entertaining but entertainment is way down the list of priorities at the moment its the three points that count no matter how they're won.
My education started when I left Highweek School for boys..
A much needed win at sunny Plainmoor today with three well taken goals although we rode our luck at times. Williams was the sole striker with Young playing in front of Verma and Richards to give support. Debuts for news signings Racine and Hodgkiss with Rooney on the bench.
It was a slow start to the match with neither team testing the opposing keeper although Gateshead got a dangerous cross in. The goal when it came was a break out from a corner. Sparkes came out with the ball just outside the area and released Fitzpatrick on the wing with a diagonal pass into their half, getting clattered in the process but play continued. Fitzpatrick took the ball to the edge of their area before going outside the defender and slotting the ball past the keeper into the far corner for a well taken effort. Sparkes was able to continue after treatment and we got to half time unscathed.
We needed to keep things tight in the second half but they equalised early doors from a dreadful challenge by Racine (had a decent game up to then) that conceded an unnecessary penalty and also hobbled him that saw him have to go off after lengthy treatment. Not the best penalty and Moore almost saved it but was hampered with the setting sun in his eyes with no cap!
However, we took the lead soon after. A curling left footed Sparkes free kick from the right was right on the button and Rooney charged forward to get the faintest of touches to guide the ball into the far corner ( it may have been going in anyway but the keeper could not commit to the save. Gateshead then had a strong spell and hit the woodwork twice. The first was off the bar down onto the goal line which led to an almighty scramble that somehow was kept out for a corner. The second was a well struck shot that looked in all the way until it cannoned back off the far post.
Our third came in injury time. Some good pressure by Reid forced Gateshead backwards on the half way line and the back pass was intercepted by Williams who had the strength and poise to take the ball between two defenders and hold them off until he reached a shooting position inside the area to slot the ball home just inside the far left hand post. 3 goals in successive games and Nico will find it hard to drop him from the starting line up!
An amazing win that Torquay somehow managed with loads of drama at Plainmoor today. There were plenty of twists and turns and Torquay's win was sadly tarnished by impressive debutant Racine's serious looking injury. Crowd only 1,555 with 60 odd brave souls from Gateshead some stripped to the waist with beer bellies on sight. Sponsors MOTM Fitzpatrick who scored Torquay's opening goal.
In the opening minutes it was immediately apparent how much better debutants centre back Racine and right back Hodgkiss were to anything we've seen in those positions all season. All last we had two defenders who were composed on the ball and had leadership qualities ordering their team mates. There was not the usual panicky stuff we are used to seeing at the back and we held Gateshead quite comfortably as Gateshead started brightly. The trouble was that Torquay were not threatening themselves and there were a few heavy challenges coming in from Gateshead. However on 34 minutes Sparkes on the half way line put through Fitzpatrick and got clobbered in the process. The ref waved play on and Fitzpatrick ran at the goal down our right and shot beautifully hard and low past their keeper. It was Torquay's only clear chance of the half but we made it count and we looked assured for the rest of the half.
Gateshead started the second half brightly and the big turning point was in the 54th. minute. Racine, who was a real revelation at the heart of our defence, brought down their player in the box and got injured himself in the process. After prolonged treatment, Racine went off injured that sadly looked serious. Gateshead dispatched the penalty and it was a double big blow for Torquay. Suddenly our whole season looked in tatters again and youngster Rooney replaced the experienced Racine. From a far out free-kick from Sparkes, Rooney himself got the faintest of touches and guided the ball past their keeper into the net! There followed a Gateshead onslaught for the rest of the half and I counted 5 gilt edged chances when Gateshead looked certain to score. They hit the crossbar from a header and we somehow survived the following scramble, they hit the inside of the post with a wonder strike. Then a wonder save from Moore. At point blank range Moore somehow saved a shot and put it over the bar. Richards made a fantastic last ditch block and there were lots of Torquay bodies being thrown on the line to block attempts. Lathrope had come on for Young and Reid for Sparkes but it seemed unlikely we would hold out. Torquay made it to 90 minutes but there was 6 minutes of injury time due to the prolonged injuries.
Williams, our lone striker today who had not had much service but had worked hard in his role, had the final say. He intercepted the ball a long way out, took the ball into the penalty area with defenders on him, bided his time and then unleashed an unstoppable low shot into the far bottom corner. A goal only quality srikers are capable of scoring and the goal reminded me of the sort that David Graham used to score under Leroy. The crowd went mad, including me, and we could finally enjoy the last 3 minutes of added time.
So a great win but also very worrying with Racine getting seriously injured. His experience and leadership made us look so much better at the back that in turn breeds confidence throughout the team. At least Hodgkiss did a similar job at right back and he is still available. There was great endeavour from the team but we rode our luck today and Gateshead are probably wondering how on earth they did not get at least a point. It was good to see Young playing in a more advanced role and Lathrope getting pitch time. And at last Williams played a full game and showed us what we've all known all along - he can finish! It makes you wonder had Harrod been available today, Nicholson would have left Williams on the bench. I hope Nicholson has seen the light! "All we are saying is give Brett a chance", we sang the other week from the Family stand. I noticed at the final whistle he looked in our direction and gave us a thumbs up. Well done Brett!