FAN ZONE 25/06/2022
TORQUAY UNITED TAKE THE WOMEN’S SIDE UNDER THEIR WING AS NEW BOSS STEVE ELSWOOD SPEAKS ABOUT HIS HOPES FOR THE NEW SEASON AND TIME WE HEARD FROM UNITED’S OWNER?
Newly appointed Torquay United Women’s manager Steve Elswood has acted quickly to appoint his staff with Alan Wyatt, who has a wealth of experience in women’s football in Devon, working alongside him as well as Strength and Conditioning coach Clare Williams. Elswood, who stepped up as interim manager towards the end of last season, was in charge of the team’s historic Devon FA Women’s Cup Final penalty shoot-out victory over local rivals Exeter City back in April.
In an exclusive interview Elswood told Fans’ Zone of his plans for the coming season starting with a list of pre-season friendlies running through July and August, the first of which is a tough fixture against National League Cardiff City, two divisions higher on Sunday July 10.
Elswood reasons, “I prefer to test ourselves against a higher level team so we can learn more about ourselves and our opposition can give us that conditioning test we are looking for.”
Other friendlies include matches against Portishead (H), Liskeard Athletic (A), Plymouth Argyle (H), Barry Town (H) and Weymouth Town (TBC).
The manager has kept virtually the same squad from last season with a couple of new recruits replacing the departures as their aim is promotion.
“We are very focused on an even more successful campaign with our Devon cup defence and promotion to the National League our priorities.”
The Yellow Army will be able to see a lot more of the women’s squad at Plainmoor, maybe one day being able to play on the pitch. One big change will see the women’s side play in the same kit as the men’s team as the club takes the women under its wing.
We certainly wish them a successful season.
There has been a notable rise in popularity in following the women’s game and this is likely to increase with the Euro Championships starting next month. England’s first fixture is at Old Trafford on July 6 against Austria, followed by Norway at the Amex Stadium on July 11 and Northern Ireland on July 15 at St Mary’s.
This time a year ago United owner and chairman Clarke Osborne had this to say after ‘that’ devastating play-off final disappointment, “Defeat is just a moment; it will not halt the Yellow Army.”
He added, “It is one step on our journey that we have delayed until next season. A season where we will all give our best, work hard with determination to take the next step to Division 2.”
Well, as we are all aware, after a difficult start Gary Johnson got his squad firing in the second half of the season but to no avail.
This time around, with greater time to recruit to re-build, Johnson, in his latest interview, talks about ‘spinning plates’ with a number of possible deals up in the air. So, again fans have to be patient until any news comes out of Plainmoor next month. However, one player who looks to be signing is 20 year old winger Kieron Evans on loan from Cardiff City.
In the meantime is it too much to ask Osborne for his plans for the club for the coming season?
As fans we appreciate he chooses to remain in the background leaving the day-to-day operation of running the club to the two directors. However, a statement from the owner would not only be welcome but also reassuring.
Many supporters are disappointed to see the bulk of the side move on but as Johnson has said more than once, Torquay United is a transitional club, taking on players with prospects and turning them into ‘marquee’ players. It is comforting in a sense then to see the likes of Armani Little (Forest Green Rovers in League 1), and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans along with Joe Lewis joining League 2 Stockport County. Some reports estimate the compensation fee for Lewis to be as much as £50,000.
Johnson’s staff should be pleased to have seen these players join EFL teams rather than, like last year’s leavers, move sideways to National League rivals. We still await to hear the destinations of Ben Wynter and Shaun MacDonald.
Stockport boss Dave Challinor had this to say about Lemonheigh-Evans joining, “He’s been a standout player in the National League over the last two to three seasons and was highly sought after this summer. He has a great profile in terms of his age and playing attributes. This is a big move for him and his young family.”
Last week we asked - throw-ins replaced by kick-ins - what’s your opinion? The International Football Association Board (IFAB), at its annual meeting last week, agreed to setting up trials of FIFA’s Head of Global Development, Arsene Wenger’s proposal. It seems this is all to do with making the game quicker for the younger generation whose concentration spans are apparently limited.
IFAB also confirmed plans to test the reduction of matches from 90 to 60 minutes - with the clock running only while the ball is in play.
IFAB did, though, much to the anger of those who have been advocating their introduction, decide not to allow temporary substitutes for players taken off thought to have concussion. They did, however, agree that trial protocols should continue.
Back in January this column reported on some sobering Premier League stats about the average ‘ball in play’ times, for 2021-22 this was 54 minutes 35 seconds.
So should, as IFAB are to trial, matches be reduced to 60 minutes? Should we also see the return of ball boys at Plainmoor?
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