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FAN ZONE 27/08/2022





UNITED PAY THE PENALTY WITH SECOND DEFEAT WHILE THE REFEREE HAD AN INTERESTING DAY OUT


What began on a bright, sunny August Saturday as an afternoon of happy anticipation with Torquay United’s second home game of the new National League season against Boreham Wood ended in frustration and disappointment.

After 50 plus years of supporting United nothing should come as a surprise but the Gulls were chasing the game from the third minute when a fortunate mis-hit pass found Jamal Fyfield totally unmarked by the far post - and he wasn’t going to miss. He might well have been offside but the goal was given.

From that moment on Torquay huffed and puffed without really dominating the game as Boreham Wood out-muscled the home side in almost every department. In fact it looked at times as though the visitors were the home side.

United came to life around the hour mark when Goodwin seemed to have won a stone-wall penalty but inexplicably the referee, more of him later, allowed play to continue maybe, in his mind, playing advantage as it looked easier to score with two great chances both of which were blocked with desperate defending.

Certainly Nathan Ashmore in the Wood goal played his part in keeping a clean sheet and for the three points to return to Hertfordshire while at the other end, Mark Halstead made yet more outstanding saves.

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National League referees, if they have any ambition, must be working towards promotion to the EFL but Saturday’s ref, Matthew Russell, is a long way off realising his target. He was bullied as much by the street-wise Wood players as were Torquay’s.

And, it appears, much of Mr Russell’s experience comes from officiating matches in the Premier League 2 where games do not have the same intenseness and importance.

Last year he refereed 17 National League matches with the last one being in April between Dover Athletic and Notts County; Saturday’s Plainmoor encounter was his first of the season.

He issued 90 yellow cards, averaging 3.33 per game, and seven red. On Saturday it took him until the 87th minute before giving one for time wasting.

Yes, it sounds like sour grapes complaining about the standard of the officials and, yes, it’s the same for both sides and no, the performance of the man in black doesn’t excuse the lack of ability from the home players but passionate fans will always feel hard done-by in these circumstances.

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Clearly, the manager is not happy with the team’s start but Gary Johnson is experienced enough to know how to fix it. And it’s too soon to press the panic button, after all nothing is decided in August. However, he did for the second time inside a month, keep the squad locked in the dressing-room for an instant inquest and some home truths.

Finding some fire power up front would, though, be a start as one goal in 360 minutes of football is not going to win you promotion.

Saturday’s match attendance of 2,222 was only the second time in the club’s history the figure was the repetition of the same number, the previous time was in April 1951 v. Gillingham when 6,666 attended.

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National League Crowd Watch: In mid-week the Chesterfield / Wrexham clash, which the home side won 2-0, drew 8,057 while Oldham, beaten at home by Wealdstone were watched by 6,869.

At the weekend, Wrexham played in front of 9,862, Notts County had 8,287 and Southend 5,414.

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To my generation it is amazing how much abuse is generated on social media platforms about the performances of certain footballers. There has been a lot of vitriol directed at some Liverpool players, so much so that Jurgen Klopp, the manager, issued this statement, “If you’re sending these messages (online abuse) while claiming to be a Liverpool supporter, be it to our players or an opponent, you’re not welcome at our club or in our sport. If you’ve got this hate in your heart and your head, you can walk alone, because you do not walk with us.” All credit to him for this.

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Torquay United’s Women’s team kick-off their league campaign next month and in the meantime continue to add to their squad with the latest recruits being defender Gemma Anderson re-joining from Axminster Town and forward Hannah Drummond.

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TUST supports the club’s two latest community initiatives: with National Lottery support and Torbay’s Children’s Services, Torquay United are donating fifty season tickets in order to provide Torbay Council with the opportunity to distribute these tickets to children and families throughout the local community. Councillor Cordelia Law, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Torbay Council said, “This is a fantastic example of community spirit and a wonderful opportunity for some of Torbay’s most vulnerable children to create happy memories with their foster families.”

The second is the launch of the Community Group where local teams or groups of up to 12 can enjoy a home league match in style: 12 match tickets for the Family Stand, ‘Meet and Greet’ by a member of the media team, tour of Plainmoor, a welcome via the club’s stadium announcer and on Torquay’s social media channels plus photos taken during the visit as a memento. All this costs £150 with additional numbers charged at £10 each. Could be suitable as a team’s club raffle prize.

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The GoFundMe fundraiser on behalf of 15-year-old Ben Oliver who tragically died recently has reached nearly £4,000.

The Yellow Army can, for £2, buy a raffle ticket, with a chance to win a signed 2022-23 shirt. All proceeds go to Ben’s fund. Details from www.torquayunited.com.

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There’s a busy double header coming up this Bank Holiday weekend. First, United travel to Kent to take on newcomers Maidstone United, the Gulls will have to overcome a dismal run of five straight defeats against the Stones over the past six years, the last being an FA Cup defeat 1-0 in November 2019. League 2 defeats, two at home and two away, took place between 2016 and 2018.

Then on Monday rivals Woking come to Plainmoor for a 3pm holiday kick-off. Those with BT Sport can watch their game with Wrexham on Saturday evening to see what’s in store. Hopefully, there will be a decent crowd to encourage the players to find some form. For professional footballers it’s very much a results business.

Seems losing the classified results at 5pm is another casualty on the road to progress but this week what’s your opinion of Torquay’s start? Too soon to say? Wait until ten games? Send your view to: fanszone.tu@gmail.com or Twitter: @FanszoneT

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