FANS' ZONE 19/03/2021
UNITED SLIP TO THIRD, EIGHT POINTS ADRIFT - OR WILL IT BE ELEVEN AS THE GOALS DRY UP? But for the thickness of Shaun MacDonald’s left hand post, in a four minute spell, in front of the BT Sport cameras, United would have been 2-0 down in Saturday’s late kick-off at Boreham Wood following Asa Hall’s second consecutive penalty save in the first half. Fine margins!
Gary Johnson’s after match verdict, “ We know we’ve still got to improve a little bit ”, must rate as one of the biggest understatements for a while. Even the most biased Gulls’ fan would have been thankful for the point as, despite the build-up play the lack of a cutting edge up-front was once again in evidence, three blanks from the last four So a lucky point or a valuable one keeping United tucked in third behind the top two?
With the mid-week Aldershot game called off many were hoping a few more first choice players might have returned from injury but in the end only one, keeper Lucas Covolan, appeared. Seasoned Yellow Army watchers recognise the absence of key players, Kyle Cameron, Aaron Nemane, Danny Wright and even Dean Moxey are hampering the return to the fast, free flowing football that took United to a commanding lead in the first three months of the season We last saw Nemane on February 2 in the home defeat to Altincham while Moxey’s last appearance was in the FA Trophy win at Southport on February 6.
Monday’s arrival of Plymouth Argyle’s left back Ryan Law on loan suggests Moxey isn’t returning anytime soon. Law played 18 games for Truro last season before it was voided.
Johnson talks of now being the chasers but with the goals drying up - on Saturday there were only three shots on target - compare those stats with the Boxing Day rout of Yeovil Town when the Gulls had nine shots on target and five off, at this moment there seems more chance of Bradley Walsh’s TV quiz chasers catching Sutton.
If United want automatic promotion they cannot afford to lose many more of their remaining matches, they have seven losses to date. In 2018 Macclesfield were promoted having lost only eight and in 2019 Leyton Orient went up with seven losses. In a curtailed season, both Barrow and Harrogate each lost nine times before joining the EFL. So far Sutton have only been beaten four times.
In last week’s YA podcast the manager tells us that most of the injured will be back for the last ten games, we can only hope he’s right.
What to make of our two outfield loan players who can’t get a game? Max Sheaf, from Hull City made 22 League 2 appearances scoring five when on loan at Cheltenham in 2019-20 and has started three times for his parent club in League 1.
Rob Street has less experience with only ten Premier League 2 starts for Crystal Palace so that could explain why he’s only had 184 minutes pitch time with the Gulls.
So, what’s to be made of Tuesday’s 4-1 thumping at Maidenhead? The manager says he takes full responsibility and quite right. Chesterfield had lost there 2-0 on Saturday with their manager confessing he’d picked the wrong team. It was a shocking performance with not one ‘regular’ playing to their potential, only the three second half subs showed they were up for the fight. And to be honest, four was kind as it could quite easily have been double that.
In National League news it’s the end of the season - or is it? - for all North & South clubs following last Friday’s decision by the Alliance Committee to support the termination and reject the proposal for an alternative competition in order to protect the “ integrity of the National League system.” Whilst the rules allow an appeal it looked like the FA Council would ratify the committee’s ruling but at their meeting on Thursday, the result of a vote was delayed giving rise to speculation that maybe there’s been a change of heart. After all no promotion from or relegation into Step 2 makes a mockery of the integrity of the whole National League.
Dorking Wanderers did issue a strongly worded statement saying they will publish their legal findings as well as meeting with other clubs to discuss taking the matter to arbitration.
To the average football supporter all this seems very strange, how can such an important proposition be decided on the day when the Dover situation is now into its seventh week, having last played on January 30? Surely the integrity of the league has been severely compromised by Dover’s refusal to play? And what does the NL board propose to do about it? If there’s no promotion from Step 2 how will Macclesfield be replaced?
Last week saw three managerial changes: Wealdstone appointed caretaker Stuart Maynard to the role, Barnet replaced Tim Flowers with former manager Paul Fairclough coming in to advise while Solihull Moors ‘borrowed’ Mark Yates from Stourbridge to the end of the season.
Last week also saw Vanarama renew their sponsorship of the league for £4m until 2025.
Last week’s question, should Gary Johnson stay or go, brought the biggest response so far with 100% replies saying he must stay. Readers Dave Sellman and Richard Cox felt strongly that the question shouldn’t have been asked!
This week’s poser: Should it be Dover and out? Should the National League expel the Kent side? Send your yes or no to: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @FanszoneT
To all the Yellow Army stay safe and, when offered, get your vaccination.