FANS' ZONE 30/04/2021
APRIL SHOWERS UNITED WITH AN UNBEATEN MONTH DROPPING ONLY TWO POINTS FROM A POSSIBLE TWENTY-ONE TO RECLAIM TOP SPOT
Torquay United’s recent matches against Woking and Notts County have brought into the spot-light two troubling issues. Firstly, now that the FA Council has finally endorsed the end of the Step 2 season confirming there’s no promotion into or relegation from the National League, clubs like Woking, who the Gulls beat 2-0 last week have no fear as their Premier place is secured for next season, whilst Saturday’s visitors still had everything to play for in their attempt to grab a play-off place. The difference between the two matches was clear to see. Woking manager Alan Dowson, already not endearing himself to Gary Johnson with his pre-match remarks about trying to do Sutton a favour, also admitted that had there still been the threat of relegation he would have been signing better quality players rather than playing youngsters.
The second big issue is about injuries - this is a current recurring topic on the various Torquay fans’ forums. For good reasons Johnson’s usual policy is to say very little but last week he was surprisingly more forthcoming providing the Nottingham media with stories to give Notts County a possible psychological boost.
United know all about having virtually a whole team of first choice players out at the same time earlier in the year and Woking last week were missing a similar number.
In the recent Yellow Army podcast Gary Johnson was under no illusion as to who to blame, although he wouldn’t actually name them, but we can guess he was referring to the National League’s relentless fixture planning with teams playing three matches a week on a regular basis.
Factor in travelling hundreds of miles to away games as well and it’s easy to see how players are suffering from muscle injuries having minimum recovery time.
Whether he intended to or not ex-Gull Mark Ellis figured in two key moments on Saturday. Early in the second half he popped up to score what looked like a match winning second goal for Notts County then, after having had a pretty easy afternoon at the back, he had a physical Josh Umerah sent on to challenge him.
Ellis knew he had a handful to contend with and following the second of two clashes between the pair, the referee, after consulting his nearest linesman, gave Umerah his second yellow. The circumstances of the two cards appears unusual and on the face of it he was unlucky to be sent off; it was the sort of decision that can then get managers into trouble in post match interviews and Johnson wisely kept his real feelings and opinion to himself - a model of restraint! In almost all of the player interviews broadcast on the pre-match streaming service, player after player has praised the squad’s genuine togetherness and team sprit and this was epitomised as Torquay salvaged a late, late draw with Ben Wynter’s 98th minute lifeline thanks to the very same linesman who was in the right place to signal the ball had crossed the line.
And that brings us back to Mark Ellis, but for his lengthy treatments there most likely wouldn’t have been a 98th minute!
As a result the Gulls returned to the top of the table, albeit on goal difference, to face, on Tuesday night, an Aldershot Town side clinging on to the hope of a play-off place. Following Saturday’s late, late show who could have predicted more late drama? A penalty given in the first minute of added time when visiting keeper Walker wiped out Lemonheigh-Evans which surely would have been a red card, only for the referee to change his mind after consulting his linesman.
Justice was served in the 97th minute with Scott Boden’s deft glancing header from another pin-point cross from the outstanding Adam Rendell.
Had the Yellow Army been inside Plainmoor the chant would certainly be “Gary Johnson’s Yellow Army.” His team’s never-say-die spirit is truly amazing.
What a boost it would be for the manager if he had a few more to pick a team from with Eastleigh on Saturday followed swiftly by a trip to Chesterfield on Bank Holiday Monday… we can only hope.
And to be fair it’s been a pretty good April for Gary Johnson as he’s got the best out of those players available to him, unbeaten with nineteen points from a possible twenty-one. That’s what an experienced manager gives a team.
Last week the football world was shaken by the news of the creation of a European Super League which quickly turned to anger with football fans venting their strong feelings. The Government quickly announced the setting up of a 2019 manifesto promise for a Fan-Led Review of football’s governance with wide ranging terms of reference under the chairmanship of an ex-Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch.
With the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) urging supporters’ trusts to contact their local MPs, TUST has done just that sending letters to Kevin Foster, Anthony Mangnall and Anne-Marie Morris.
Reform in football is long overdue and desperately needed throughout the football pyramid. And, as TUST was quoted in Sunday’s Non-League Paper, “ Football exists for fans - without them it’s nothing!”
“We endorse the fact that at last fans’ opinions are to be heard and taken into account.”
Since then the FSA have welcomed TUST’s offer to contribute to the Review.
Cooking, cycling, DIY were all popular hobbies taken up during lockdowns but probably the one which had the most votes was walking.
There might only be seven league matches left - we’re not going to mention play-offs just yet - and some in the Yellow Army are beginning to think about their Player of the Season.
So, who is in the running for POTS? Send your name to: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @FanszoneT
As always stay safe and, when offered, get your vaccination. COYY!
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