Disappointing result in a game in which we weren't the best team and probably (only just) only deserved a draw. We were second best to nearly every ball and have to say looked bereft of any spirit.
Thought we were unlucky to go in 1 nil down at half-time to a 'dodgy' decision by the ref. It would appear true in that when your face down in sh*t, there's always someone with their foot on the back of your neck.
As petef has already said, Camara didn't appear to be any better than Nico - if anything he offered less i.e. no long throw or corning kicking. Thought the free kick blasted over the bar seemed to sum his day up.
Thought Barnes had a decent game and he and Zebs seem to play well together.
Those that were booing either Thomson going off and/or Benyon coming on were soon eating their words as Benyon with his first touch (?) poached the goal.
Apart from Branston we appeared to be very lightweight. I would swap Thompson for Haldene any day. I think Pickles should be handed the Captains armband.
Not sure what happened for the second goal (apart from not clearing it).
Oh dear yet another defeat and a similiar story yet again. Yes there was plenty of effort and the peformance level was pretty good. But as have been the case for the majority of this season, we need several chances before we score and the opposition only need one or two chances to score. This happened again today and yet again we lost by the odd goal in an even, competetive match. There's no way we're getting outplayed by superior teams but they do the most important things i.e. score more than they concede ! Crowd 2,563, around 200 from Port Vale, sponsors MOTM Guy Branston.
I thought today's team selection had a more solid look about it with more of a physical presence and experience which should bode well for a relegation fight. It was the first time I've seen Branston in a Torquay shirt and I thought he looked the part - strong, good in the air and a general in defence. He could become a Plainmoor favourite. Camera looks a decent left back, again he looks strong and has a sweet left foot. However he clearly was struggling with his fitness as the game progressed. I was pleased to see Mansell back in central midfield as since Hargreaves departure, we have missed someone getting stuck in with the midfield battles. He also had a couple of decent efforts on goal. In attack Ashley Barnes showed promise on his debut having a physical presence and also good ability. The trouble is whoever comes in and you hope that the team should be better, the results are still the same. In fact since the departures of Nicholson, Sills and Hargreaves our results have actually got worse. So food for thought on that one and it really makes you wonder whether making major chances mid-season is a good idea. It did not work in the Roberts season and it's not working this time either.
So onto the match and the first half was mainly a midfield battle with few clear-cut chances. Torquay's best moment was a turn and shot by Barnes that was well saved by their keeper. Poke had to be alert once smartly tipping a deflected shot over the bar. Then in the 42nd. minute Port Vale were awarded a controversial free-kick on the edge of the penalty area in a central position. All of Torquay's players were in the penalty box with several forming a wall. The ball was struck low and hard and rebounded off the wall. The ball fell loose to a Port Vale player about 12 yards out who planted the ball into the corner of the net. 1-0 down at half-time and another up-hill struggle. At half-time Bevan replaced Poke in goal who apparantly had an injury.
Torquay finally had a good spell of pressure in the second half pinning Port Vale back and the chances were coming. Benyon replaced the woeful Thomson who was playing on the left wing. It has to be said that everything Thomson did today was awful who wasted several opportunites with dreadful distribution. Zebroski went to the left wing with Benyon joining Barnes in attack. Remarkably Benyon scored with his first touch ! A free-kick was floated over, Zebroski won the ball, and Benyon nipped in to score at close range. 1-1 with Torquay well on top with Port Vale hanging on. Port Vale's keeper saved them a couple of times including a fine diving save from O'Kane.
However from a rare Port Vale attack down their right, the ball was placed in our goalmouth and slotted home at close range. So 2-1 down and this time Torquay could not fight back. Stevens came on late for O'Kane but Port Vale's defence was not seriously threatened again. One incident that I thought summed us up. In the first half Port Vale scored from a free-kick just outside the penalty box. In the second half Torquay had a similiar opportunity. And yes you've guessed it, Camara skied the kick right into the stands. A great opportunity totally wasted.
We are just not good enough whichever team is selected. We struggle to get the ball into the net whereas the oppostion teams only need one or two opportunites to do that. So week after week all our endeavours come to waste. I am increasingly believing that the Conference is our level and our pathetic points tally would confirm that. Our best hope seems to be that two teams are even worse !
Well.....another home game, another defeat......another game when we were outdone by a workmanlike but stronger more disciplined side........the most damning thing for me is that Port Vale also seemed to "want it" slightly more.
At times we looked fine, especially in the 1st half when we actually managed (or Zebroski did) to get behind their strong, determined but very slow back four. The first goal in a tight game is always crucial, we weren't quite good enough to get it and they got a lucky break when they were awarded a very soft free kick on the edge of the box 10 mins before half time.......the free kick was struck poorly and straight into the wall but fell straight to Haldane who had an easy finish.
We got the goal back when Benyon forced over the line from close in........Zebroski had battled well to set up the chance. Rather than go and take the game by the scruff of the neck and have a real go for the winner..........we actually started to play deeper........a sure sign of very fragile confidence. Up until then Zebroski had looked the biggest threat for us........unfortunately his pace and strength are wasted on the wing and we created very little in the last half hour. Thomson had had a quiet game up until then but i question whether we can afford to take him off with so long left..........we have such little pace in the side and even less "spark".
Port Vale sensed this and got the sadly all too predictable winner when our defence fell asleep and allowed a routine deep cross to fall to their winger in acres of space for him to pick out richards to score from close in......game over..........this current team doesn't seem to have the ooomph to come back twice and the game finished with PV looking more likely to add a third.
Some comments on individual performances...
Poke - little to do, no chance with the goal hope the injury is not too serious because Bevan unsuprisingly looks a bit rusty to say the least. Defence - was generally ok with Branston the pick..........apart from the fact that they cant concentrate for a full match
Midfield - Wroe has a hell of a job on his hands, Captain, playmaker as well as the physical battle in the middle........i think he's doing ok, needs a decent partner to see his best form. Mansell got his foot in well in the 1st half and tried hard to drive us on........he cant pass and he's not the answer there. O'Kane is not experienced enough to make a huge impression but i like him a lot...........in a good, confident side he would shine more, a big ask for this season though, but he's got a future. Thomson ran down a series of blind alleys and often chose the wrong option when in possesion but needs to be encouraged and perservered with.
Forwards - Zebroski good in the centre, wasted on the wing. Benyon showed that he is an impact player only with a poached goal with his first kick........got little protection from the ref and was outmuscled, not always fairly, sadly made little impact after the goal.
....and the new lads
Camara isn't fit.......had a reasonable debut but the proof will come when someone with pace runs at him...........i have a horrible feeling he's not going to much of an improvement on Nicho in that sense. Barnes......well to be honest i was a little disappointed, obviously unfair to judge him on one performance and he does look like he will score the odd goal for us.........guess in this quite miserable season i was hoping for Roy of the Rovers . My impression was that he is stronger than Benyon but hardly what you would call powerful, he holds off defenders better than Benyon but again, not by a lot and he's average in the air but no Sills or Rendell obviously.......the main thing i was looking for in him was his "sharpness" and whereas Benyon is a yard too slow, this guy is half a yard better but still half a yard too slow, suprising for a fringe CCC player.
Hopefully, they will prove more of an impact than they did today in the weeks ahead....
I would happily take 4.50 now in early May and we stay up on goal difference and i can go and play cricket and chill out a bit
.....Is it just me or is this season been a real struggle to enjoy much?
practically anybody can manage a team with a built in will to win,a manager comes into his own when things dont go right and he has to fix it.These next 3 months will test how far buckle may or may not go as a manager,but as it stands the points return is deeply disappointing
what a person is told is not half as important as what they think they have been told
I wish people would lay off the manager for goodness sake, I mean the bloke is doing his best and come May will be half way up the league at least. He is getting no luck at all and deserves a bit of luck. I mean he did us a favour by getting rid of the under achievers like Hargreaves and Sills who were there just to pick up their wage packets. Look at what he's brought in better players - Look at Eunane O'Kane - full of pace,power and a will to win. Not to mention that nifty yellow body warmer he wears under his shirt. And what about that Chris Camara - ok he's not the fittest at the moment but as soon as he trains off those effects of lounging around on Sky Sports he is going to be a revelation. Least he plays with a smile on his face. Anyway what people seem to forget is that Paul Buckle has got us two precious points out of the last twenty four and that could be decisive come May. And what if the unthinkable happens in May and we do go down. Paul is the man who will lead us right back up again. I mean he;s already got at least five players signed on for next season already. People just seem to forget that he has brought in quality players. Look at Jake today - looks like he will die for the cause and thats what we need for the run it. I mean did he throw his gloves off when he got taken off today. Not a chance mate - gave the manager a nice big grin and a sporting handshake that is what we want to see. Us fans can do our bit as well - lets get behind Paul and the lads and we will sonn turn these home defeats into draws. Come on Pauls got us five wins at home already this season so you cannot tell me he isn't doing something right. Look I am no football expert but Ihave travelled around a bit (mainly on buses) so I knows me eggs and bacon. keep your trust in Paul - see if I'm not right. It will all come good in the end.
Make no mistake about it, it’s very hard being a Torquay United fan right now and coming out of the ground and getting chilled to the bone helped to numb my brain a bit and make my drive home a little but better than it might have been.
Our real problem is we have to many different line ups every week, to many different players who simply have not gelled and don’t know each others game, not enough real muscle and when your centre forward ends up playing in three different positions in the game, it tells its own story and just why we are in the position we are.
I read one of those stone plaques on the town hall as I drove by, I can’t remember the exact words on it, but it was along the lines that to know all that was install for you in your day ahead was the ultimate wisdom, wish I knew what the score of today’s game was going to be as I could of turned right and headed for home and not left heading up to Plainmoor.
There was a delay getting into the ground as there was a power cut inside the ground, the club shop had all its lights on so it was not all of the ground but it had to be sorted before they could let anyone pay and enter the ground. I kept my fingers crossed as I really did feel today was the day we would at last get a much needed win and I could come home and enjoy a happy evening on the TFF. The delay was only about 15 minutes and once again I decided to give the popside a miss and stand near the dugouts.
Our players did not come out to warm up until 2.25pm and were back in by 2.45pm, hardly any time really and was it just because it was so cold? I don’t know but unlike the last home game Bucks came out and joined in with the lads, but I took the time to look at many of our players faces and I felt some sure did not look happy or looked like they were part of a squad where all the players were fully together. I really believe that is down to so many players coming in and relegating players who have been here for a while to the bench, or in Nico’s and Ellis’s case, not even making the bench.
The line up looked good and after hearing so much about Barnes and seeing he was starting up front with Zebs I thought we would create many more chances than we did, but both were so well dealt with by the Port Vale defence and lacked the real power and strength the Port Vale forwards had.
I was looking forward to seeing Camara play, but while he did well to last the 90 minutes for a player who has not had that many games this season, I would rather have had Nico playing at left back, he has far more to offer than Camara who was limping badly near the end and may well struggle to even make the next game.
Surely having Mansell back in midfield would give us the bite and fighting power we needed to break up Port Vales forward movement and then that allow Wroe to starting picking out those killer passes? NO chance we gave Port Vale all the space they wanted in midfield and for most of the game they passed the ball at their leisure and were better than us in every single department.
First time I have seem Branston play and you have just got to love this guy, a good old pro with a good old head and while he missed a few headers and played a few poor balls out of defence I would love to see eleven experienced players like him out on the pitch than a bunch of kids. Thomson is not the same player who came here a few months ago, can’t seen to get past anybody and his crossing is woeful and when he loses the ball that’s it as he just let the game go on past him and makes no effort to track back to go and try and win the ball back.
Okane is one for the future for sure, but is not good enough right now and now is the time we need players that are good enough. Wroe is also not the player he once was for us and I have to now admit we are now a much poorer and weaker team than we were before the January transfer window.
I have listened to all the arguments about having pace in the side, well sorry I would rather have seen Sills, Hargreaves, Nico and even Hodges playing for us today because there is no substitute for experience, not even pace.
On to the game and we started poorly and were simply being out passed and as early as the first minute you could see why Poke should not have started this game. Branston was forced to give away a corner and when the ball came in Poke’s punch was so weak it only went a few yards, he got lucky because the shot that came in was also very weak and Poke managed to grab the ball on the floor.
After about 10 minute was feeling a bit better about our players, they started to show a bit more fight and were getting stuck into tackles a whole lot better and we could have taken the lead on the 15 minute mark. Camara did show that he does have a bit of class and played a great ball up to Barnes who was just inside the Port Vale box. He chested the ball down and it looked to me the ball had gone a bit to far in front away form him, but then he hit a cracking shot that forced the Vale keeper into making a very good save.
Vale came close on 23 minutes, a good ball was played up to their forward on the edge of our box, he danced into our box and got a good right foot shot away that we managed to partly block but the ball flew up and was heading for the top right hand corner until Poke got his finger tips to it and pushed it over.
Ten minutes later saw a good bit of play between Zebus and Barnes who exchanged a few neat passes just outside the Vale box and Zebus then played the ball to Camara who drilled it in low and hard, it came back out to Man sell on the edge of the box but he blasted his shot well over the bar.
The ref played a big part in the Vale goal I’m afraid, first he wrongly booked Okane and gave Vale a free kick when in fact Okane had made a good tackle and only had to go and do so as he was having his shirt pulled off his back when he first played the ball. Yes he had his studs showing but his foot was on the floor and clearly played the ball. The free kick found its way to the edge of our box and the ref then gave Vale a really soft free kick right on the edge of our box.
The shot hit the wall and squirmed through to a Vale player who only had to hit the target as Poke was on the floor having gone down to make the first save only the ball never got that far from the free kick.
Not a lot else happened in the first half and while Vale had been the better side, I still felt we were a bit hard done by and only because we had worked hard and were behind mainly due to two poor decisions by the ref.
So Bevan came on for the injured Poke and you wonder if he has been fully fit anyway for weeks judging by his poor kicking we have been witnessing. We had a good chance early in the half and it all started from a throw in, that ball eventually got to Barnes who was inside the Vale box, he played a neat pass to the advancing Mansell who hit a first time shot that got defected and the Vale keeper was forced into making a top save.
Thomson was still looking very poor and Bucks made what turned out to be a super sub, on came Benyon and must have scored the fastest goal every scored by a sub at Plainmoor, yes it was a poachers goal but it got us back on level terms and I foolishly started to believe we could go on and win this game.
Not long after this I felt Benyon was fouled in the Vale box, it sure looked like a penalty from where I was standing but the ref gave nothing. Okane received a good ball by Benyon and hit a great shot that the Vale keeper just tipped over and Branston had a good header at goal, but he was judged to have committed a foul.
Barnes found himself in the box and turned and fired a shot across the keeper but it was always going past the far post and we were just very slightly on top for this short period but failed to take advantage of it.
At the other end we were seeing so many good balls being played into our box and got lucky more than once but you felt a another goal was coming for vale. A long ball played from out wide on the left to a vale player on the edge of our box, he flicked it on and out to the right hand edge of our box and the ball was driven across our six yard box for their number 9 to fire the ball home. Not sure Bean could have done much about it but will have to wait and see what the story of the replays of it
Our heads dropped and Vale looked even stronger and so much better than us and that second goal clearly hurt Paul Buckle who stopped shouting out instructions to his players. In extra time Vale nearly got a third , Smith was just brushed aside like a tiny rag doll but did recover to get a slight block on the shot that defected the ball to Bevans near post and Bevan made a fine one handed save to keep the ball out.
So yet another defeat and I don’t know how Bucks can get anything from the players he has here now, all I know it is that I will continue to give the team my full support and pray the teams below us do not improve because if they do then we really may be in big trouble.
I wish people would lay off the manager for goodness sake, I mean the bloke is doing his best and come May will be half way up the league at least. He is getting no luck at all and deserves a bit of luck. I mean he did us a favour by getting rid of the under achievers like Hargreaves and Sills who were there just to pick up their wage packets.Look at what he's brought in better players - Look at Eunane O'Kane - full of pace,power and a will to win. Not to mention that nifty yellow body warmer he wears under his shirt. And what about that Chris Camara - ok he's not the fittest at the moment but as soon as he trains off those effects of lounging around on Sky Sports he is going to be a revelation. Least he plays with a smile on his face. Anyway what people seem to forget is that Paul Buckle has got us two precious points out of the last twenty four and that could be decisive come May. And what if the unthinkable happens in May and we do go down. Paul is the man who will lead us right back up again. I mean he;s already got at least five players signed on for next season already. People just seem to forget that he has brought in quality players. Look at Jake today - looks like he will die for the cause and thats what we need for the run it. I mean did he throw his gloves off when he got taken off today. Not a chance mate - gave the manager a nice big grin and a sporting handshake that is what we want to see. Us fans can do our bit as well - lets get behind Paul and the lads and we will sonn turn these home defeats into draws. Come on Pauls got us five wins at home already this season so you cannot tell me he isn't doing something right. Look I am no football expert but Ihave travelled around a bit (mainly on buses) so I knows me eggs and bacon. keep your trust in Paul - see if I'm not right. It will all come good in the end.
Are you for real, in fact are you even in the real world?
Firstly, Greavsy and Sills were never players who played to pick up their wages every week. Greavsy gave his ALL to the team, so if that's a demonstration of someone playing la de dah then all the team are guilty of that as i've never seen a more dedicated, professional and leading player. Sill worked his arse off for the team and in general terms was SHAFTED!! Getting 2 point out of the last 24 - if you see this as an "achievement" go ahead and pat him on the back....you won't have to stand in a que!
Sadly we look, to me at least, like relegation fodder. For those that cling to the belief that Grimsby are a poor side and will finish below us ... I just wish I had your optimism! Unfortunately the "gap" no longer looks like much of one to me - six points behind with a game in hand and we've still got to go to their place? Hum, our "lead" could be wiped out in the course of a couple of games.
I find myself drawing parallels to the side that took us down in the 2006-7 season. A side that was continually changing, that relied heavily on borrowed players and that in the end resembled a bunch of strangers.
I'm not knocking Bucks' selection policy for this game in fact I thought it was probably about right ... but one look at the line up and you can see that out of the starting XI ... only Poke, Charnock, Wroe and Mansell have been with us for more than a few months ... and of those, even Lee Mansell is now being asked to play in a "new" position. There have been quite simply too many changes and I cannot help but think that this has not only effected what we do out on the pitch , but also in the dressing room.
Too many changes, too many new players ... it may be ok at the start of the season, when you have 46 games to go.... but with just 15 games to go, starting "all over again" is just too much of a gamble in my opinion.
We have some good players, some who are very pleasing on the eye ... but the trouble we have is that so many of them are much better going forward than going backwards. Of the full backs we have used recently ... I would suggest that Smith, Cox and even Camara are probably better going forward than defending. I certainly think that that is true of our wingers ... of the current crop, personally I dont think any of O'Kane, Stevens or Thomson can defend. The same could be said in the centre of the park as well when Wroe and Thompson are in there, although at least Mansell does give a bit more "bite"! Oh how we have missed Carlisle though!
Quite how its come about I don't know but we have ended up with a young and inexperienced side, but more than that, we have a team of players that are simply not up to the physical battle of League 2. How could we have misjudged the situation so badly?
The really frustrating thing is that I still believe that with a couple of quality additions in key places( its fairly obvious where we need them) we could still get ourselves out of this - but we need Rendell and Carlisle back asap as well. They have been massive losses to us in my opinion.
As is always the way when the "chips are down" people start to look for someone to blame. No doubt a large proportion of the fans are blaming Paul Buckle ... while Paul Buckle is in turn blaming the board - for those that listened to his post match interview with RD, he mentioned the fact (for the umpteenth time!) that he is still working on the same budget as last season - he (Bucks) clearly believes this is a major factor in why we are where we are, and perhaps he is right, perhaps the board have shown a lack of ambition (although some would call it prudence!) given that we are now in a higher league. But, in fairness to the board, I was at the fans forum the other night and Alex Rowe made a point of saying that in fact we have a higher than average budget in this League - so - who to believe!
I think the time has come, or at least in the next couple of weeks, for the board to decide whether to "back him, or sack him". We either use the money left in the "transfer kitty" (that would have been used to purchase Brodie or Ademeno) to pay Paul Buckle off and bring a "firefighter" in to try and salvage the wreckage of this season ... or we use the money to allow Paul Buckle to bring in a couple more loan signings - quality ones that will cost money - to try and see things through.
In reality, we have about 6 weeks before the "emergency" loan window closes - at that point it would be a waste of time (and money) sacking Paulk Buckle as any new Manager would only have the existing squad to work with and would be unable to bring any new ones in.
So, to me at least, we have three options. We either back Paul Buckle to the very end and give him the money to bring a couple of players in that can make an impact, relegation or not; or we give him a couple of weeks with the existing squad to try and turn things around ... or if that fails, we replace him with a new man, but if we do, he must be given the opportunity to bring a couple of players in of his choice - to at least give him a chance of turning things around.
Its not a decision that I envy the board having to make - but it is a massive one as the consequences of relegation are too unbearable (in my opinion) to think of.
Unfortunately doing nothing is not an option in my opinion. We either need to strengthen the playing squad, or we need to change the manager.
Sadly (bad) luck has played a big part in so many of our games - how many of our defeats have been by more than just the odd goal? How many times this season have we been really outplayed? My answer would be just a handful (to both) of times but unfortunately we are where we are and we cant change that. Do I think this team will get us relegated? Sadly, I think it may well - too many loanees, too many kids, too many lightweights, not enough steel in the squad and a dressing room that is only just "getting to know each other".
We need to be strong, we need to make some big decisions .. otherwise I fear the worst.
Our biggest mistake this season? Some would say the decisions we made throughout January and I would not disagree with that, but similarly I also think we didn't do enough back in the summer - we should have moved more players on and brought more players in, in much the same way as Burton Albion did. But, I hear you say, that all costs money .... yes it does ... but ultimately whoever you choose to blame, if we end up back in the BSP then surely it would have been a "risk" worth taking?
One final thought that keeps coming back to me is ... if we were to go down ... who would be a good appointment to take us back up? If you were a non league club who might you turn to? Believe me there would be plenty of suitors, in my opinion, for an "out of work" Paul Buckle ... but is he the right man for a relegation dogfight in League Two ... who really knows? I guess we may be about to find out though.
Last Edit: Feb 13, 2010 23:47:03 GMT by crispygull