FANS' ZONE 05/11/2020
OH DANNY BOY - WHAT A WONDERFUL WEEK WITH WRIGHT ON SONG AS UNITED GO FIVE POINTS CLEAR
On Hallowe’en on live TV, the Gulls ghosted through a static Hartlepool defence five times to cement their place as early season pacesetters in the National League. Surely that was the perfect team performance to show on national TV. And to add to the spooky nature of the evening the developing W- formation continued with further strikes from the W-lads, as in the last two fixtures - both away - the goals have come from Wright 5, Whitfield 2, Wynter and Warren. So big pressure on Waters when he gets the nod.
Danny Wright, at 36, showed his class and experience, to record United’s first hat-trick since Jake Andrews against Oxford City in January 2019 and, of course, it was the perfect one: left foot, right foot and header. Not surprisingly he was named in the NL Team of the Day. This was Hartlepool’s joint heaviest home defeat for 26 years and United’s first win there since 1989.
Not only is United’s boss showing his vast experience in game management but also he knows how to motivate, with a smile on his face, as he explained to the BT Sport audience that he tells his defenders to “ defend like your mother’s in goal - you’ve got to protect her!”
Great news that both Sam Sherring and Adam Randell have had their loans extended into early 2021 as they have established themselves as key players in the Gulls’ rise to the top.
On Friday on the club’s website an official TUAFC statement acknowledging receipt of the National Lottery grant, said, “ This funding is a lifeline for our club and all National League clubs, it will assist to mitigate the effects of behind closed-doors matches.”
However, as mentioned here last week the allocation of the £10million grant has not gone down well with a host of NL clubs and the Chairman of Hereford United has written, on behalf of 12 other clubs, including Notts County, Wrexham and Yeovil, asking for a funding review and the NL board is to meet this week to discuss the issue. But, with the first instalment already sent to clubs it’s difficult to see how the system can now be changed.
Of greater concern is, will the season be completed? Although we are about to enter another lockdown it’s been confirmed that elite football will continue but every week matches are being called off due to Covid-19 related issues. And, as this column has touched on, clubs appear to be calling off matches pretty quickly.
Three NL matches were postponed on Saturday and Tuesday’s re-arranged Barnet v Hartlepool fixture was called off on Saturday, not because either side had coronavirus infections but because Barnet had just played Wrexham who subsequently had a positive case. At this rate to avoid a fixture pile-up the NL will have to consider extending the season. In Scotland, St Mirren are to be investigated by the Scottish Professional Football League for allegedly breaching Covid-19 rules which led to the postponement of two matches.
And leagues below Step 3, including the Northern Premier, Southern & Isthmian leagues look likely to postpone their fixtures until December 2. But for how much longer could any club below Step 3 survive should lockdown be extended?
With clubs throughout the football pyramid at risk of outbreaks of Covid-19 and having to play three matches a week, shouldn’t the special rule allowing five subs, introduced during Project Re-start, be re-visited? Gulls boss Gary Johnson is on record wanting this to be part of the National League and now Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, is on the case as he’s pressing the Premier League to put it back on the table. As Klopp explained, with teams playing every three days and the danger of a rise in muscle injuries, “ I thought it should have been in place in the first place.”
Sadly with the introduction of a second lockdown the return of fans to football stadiums has obviously suffered a serious set-back but many thanks to those of you who sent your vote to last week’s question - a 100% yes was the overwhelming consensus for the Yellow Army happy to return to Plainmoor.
Now let’s look forward to Sunday’s FA Cup clash with League 2 Crawley Town on the BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website. Crawley clearly are not good travellers on the road losing not only their goalkeeper to injury but also the match, 1-0, to Walsall on Tuesday evening.
Last season, before it was curtailed, their away record was: Played 18, Won 1, Drawn 10, Lost 7 with their only win away from home being 3-2 at Leyton Orient on August 24 2019 This season their away record is: Played 7, Won 1, Drawn 1, Lost 5 with the only win, 3-2 at Oldham on September 26.
Last time United met Sunday’s visitors was in League 2 in March 2012 with the Gulls winning 1-0 at the Broadfield Stadium thanks to a 79th minute strike from Eunan O’Kane.
The one and only meeting in the FA Cup was in 2011 - and that disappointing result losing to, a then non-league side in Round 4. Sunday should see a competitive test for both sides but what a pity the Yellow Army can’t be there to create a cup upset atmosphere.
So can you predict the score on Sunday? 2-1 to United? Send yours to: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime to all the Yellow Army stay safe.
SUPPORT TUST - ATTEND THE VIRTUAL AGM ON 25TH NOVEMBER AT 6.30PM.
Details to follow