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Fan Zone 05/05/2023


A SEASON TO FORGET LITTERED WITH ‘IF ONLY’ REGRETS


UNITED MATCHED CHAMPIONS WREXHAM BUT REVIVAL CAME TOO LATE


UNITED WOMEN ARE CHAMPIONS AND PROMOTED



If only…this current squad had been assembled earlier in the season as its record over the last eight games - won 5, drawn 2, lost 1 - is potential play-off form.

If only…it had, United would have comfortably retained its National League status.

If only… the club had reacted earlier to acknowledge last summer’s recruitment was below the levels required in the National League.

If only…something had been done when United slipped into the bottom four on September 24 last year and have been there ever since.

If only…the four consecutive 2-1 home defeats (Southend, Bromley, Dagenham & Redbridge, Wealdstone) had been draws, as the winning goals came either late or in time added on.

If only…Kieron Evans hadn’t been sent off at Dorking.

If only…Aaron Jarvis’ ‘goal’ on Saturday had been given.


The list could go on but hindsight is a wonderful thing.


*****


On Saturday, on a pleasant Riviera sunny evening, Torquay had to be involved in a miracle of mathematical proportions willing Gateshead to score as many as possible at home to Maidenhead with United needing to defeat the Welsh champions.

In the end Torquay gave it a right go and but for another contentious refereeing decision - the 50-50 challenge when Aaron Jarvis fairly won the ball from Ben Foster, who dropped it, the Gulls might have won. Add in Asa Hall’s header missing the target and the final table could have looked different…if only.

For their part, Gateshead did their best scoring four past the visitors.


*****


In his post match press call manager Gary Johnson confirmed what many of us had suspected when he announced that he, and assistant Aaron Downes, were staying.


This decision has, as to be expected, divided opinion. Even Johnson acknowledges he’s not everyone’s favourite, “love me or hate me, you got me.”

There’s no denying there are many supporters who are hurting and angry at the club returning to National South so soon after ‘escaping’ regional football but the situation is what it is. And after Monday’s play-off finals Truro City and Aveley are added to the fixture list.


*****


Hopefully, those who are currently disillusioned will reflect on events and, when the new season opens in August, will renew their love and loyalty for the club and buy a season ticket with Early Bird prices now available.


To help this feel good factor, Johnson needs to recruit better quality than he has in recent pre-seasons and in his post match comments on Saturday he hinted that he’s keen to retain as many of this re-shaped squad as possible.


Could this include signing Frank Nouble? Nouble Tweeted on Saturday evening,


“Exceptional support, club, staff. Club will be back, no doubt, always a light at the end of the tunnel. What a group!”


Could this include signing Kevin Dawson? He’s become a fan favourite for his 100% commitment and leadership. He also made it into the Vanarama Team of the Week.


The club’s retained list was released on Wednesday revealing a quartet of players with another year to go on their contracts with a number of fans feeling they are lucky to still be in employment but more of this in next week’s column.


Having two wide players, whether these are Collins or Stobbs, should be a priority.


*****


United, of course, won’t be the only full-time club in National South as Yeovil, if they sort out their ownership and manager’s status, should be too alongside Havant & Waterlooville.


Once Mark Halstead saved Paul Mullin’s harshly given penalty, Torquay took heart from this reprieve and not only matched their illustrious opponents but also took the game to them. That Wrexham salvaged a draw does an injustice to the commitment and desire shown by those in yellow and rightly received a standing ovation at the end of the match …but not for the situation

the club finds itself in.


Halstead was not only Man of the Match but also in the Non-League Paper’s Team of the Day. After the game I was able to let him know he is this season’s winner of the coveted TUST Ian Twitchin Trophy awarded to the player with the most appearances.


Wrexham are the first team in domestic league history to reach 111 points, when totals are adjusted to three points for a win. Along with the 107 points achieved by Notts County, the two clubs have accumulated the top two highest points totals in domestic league history.


*****


Non-League Crowd Watch: On the last Saturday of the regular season not surprisingly there were some big attendances, especially those clubs still chasing promotion. Notts County top the list but only drawing in front of 11,336. Chesterfield comfortably claimed third place with 9,105 watching while Southend just missed out on a play-off place with 8,434 inside Roots Hall.


Oldham, whose ‘escape’ from the bottom four has been impressive, had 7,482.

United had 4,908, their highest of the season, in ‘sold out’ Plainmoor.

In National North, Kidderminster claimed a play-off place with 3,786 as did Chester in front of 3,528. In National South 3,696 saw St Albans ease into a top seven finish but Dulwich Hamlet went down at home and were relegated losing to Chippenham with 3,334 and hundreds locked out.


The play-off eliminators started this week with the National League final at Wembley on May 13.


*****


The growth of women’s football continues. Consider these figures: Newcastle United’s women’s side play in the 4th tier and their attendances at St James’ Park have been 28,565, 24,092 and 22,134.


Congratulations to United’s Women thanks to a goal on the stroke of half-time from Emma Hunt over Royal Wootton Bassett to give them the league title and promotion to the National League. Manager Steve Elswood and his team have done a fantastic job.


TUST has been pleased to sponsor them.


*****


Hats off to Bobby Wilkinson, who moved from Bracknell Town to manage Weymouth, who were destined to drop out of National South but masterminded their survival by winning their last two games, both away, at Taunton and Dover. When the time comes to replace Johnson, Wilkinson would be a good candidate. His old side nearly made it to National South losing out to Truro.


A mixed reaction to ‘looking forward to next season?’ probably depending on player recruitment. What are your thoughts on buying a season ticket?


Send yours to: fanszone.tu@gmail.com or


Twitter: @FanszoneT.


COYY








 


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