Friday, 16 December 2011

Torquay 3-1 Argyle; Derby Day!!

Today was the day in which most fans have been waiting for a very long time. United haven’t beaten Argyle in the year for over 40 years so surely it was time to turn the tables.

Like always, me and dad met all the others in our home gulls nest bar for a drink and to talk about general chit chat and of course the match ahead. Views we’re mixed feelings as majority of thoughts including myself was that the bad luck was going to be on our side. I mean we all knew that Argyle were hanging on at the bottom of the table but that doesn’t mean it was going to be a walk over for us. We’ve seen it all happen before where the bottom of the table have turned over even teams at the top! So noone really knew what to expect or to predict. As soon as you stepped into the ground, the atmosphere from both sets of fans was absolutely electric. There was no doubt about it that both sides we're determined to get one over on one another. As everyone had predicted, it was going to be frantic and hectic. 

The lineup for the game ahead was as followed;
United; Olejnik, Oastler, Ellis, Saah, Nicholson, Mansell, Lathrope, O’Kane, Bodin, Howe, Stevens. Subs; Morris, Robertson, Mcphee, Rice, Atieno
Argyle; Larrieu, Bignot, Nelson, Gibson, Bhasera, Daley, Walton, Young, Atkinson, Sutherland, Feeney. Subs; Lecointe, Cole, Berry, Blanchard, Bassell.

There was just one change in the United squad as Billy Bodin was bow back from international duty with Wales U'21's. That meant that his temporary replacement Ian Morris was placed onto the bench. On the other side, Argyle manager Carl Fletcher was forced into four changes with a suspension of Robbie Williams, Conor Hourihane, Fletcher himself and Matt Lecointe dropped to the bench.

Kick off and both teams seemed to be struggling and connecting together a passing rhythm. The first opportunity on goal was from the United side as the players put together a string of passed together which gave Nicholson the chance to fed the ball to Bodin but the cross was far too deep. Within moments, United was awarded a corner which was taken by Nicholson who this time was far more accurate with his cross but the header from Saah was blocked from the team in green to prevent a threat on Larrieu. Argyle was next up with an opportunity on goal when Sutherland introduced himself with a superb from through three of the United players but the last man to get through before goal was Mark Ellis who was luckily positioned perfectly to execute a tackle and clear the ball from danger.

Things soon took a change when after just 25 minutes, Martin Ling had to make a change to the United squad when Brian Saah was taken off injured which what appeared to be a groin injury. This meant that Robertson was able to step up and gain his rightful position back! Seconds after the change, Argyle had a quick brief of attack where they threatened the United midfield with Atkinson racing down the left win and passing in a low shot but was stopped by Nicholson and blocked the effort before it even worried Gulls keeper Olejnik. However, it wasn't easy all game for Olejnik who was called into action moments later when a splendid fire of pace from Sutherland released Daley as he scooted past Nicholson before taking a shot on target but was unfortunately the right height for Uniteds number one. We had now reached half time!

It was a matter of at least two minutes from the restart when Rene Howe made a surging run down the right to then fed the ball over to O'Kane on the edge of the box who made a first touch before smashing an unstoppable strike past Larrieu into the bottom left hand corner. It was a fabulous goal which was well deserved. 1-0 United. 

United we're now in front but they weren't just going to stop there. United had more to deliver when just two minutes from his last goal, O'Kane received the ball in the area and instantly noticed that Argyle keeper Larrieu was standing a way from his line, this gave him the perfect chance unleash an extraordinary strike from 35 yards which sailed past the keeper and to the back of the net. 2-0 United.

A hatrick looked on the cards but this time it was in hands of Stevens who made a superb run down the left hand side who then confirmed that the Yellow's were certainly giving this match there all by dominating and striking a 68th minute goal. That still didn't stop Torquay from wanting more and was determined not to give up and end it here. But it was enough for Ling to have to reconsider his options and replace a fatigued Bodin for Morris but the fresh legs had only just came on before the ball was run down the left channel by Sutherland who ended Argyles misery with a shot past Olejnik. 3-1
The final whistle was blown and it was without a doubt an excellent second half performance from United. But credit to Argyle, they didn't give up and gave it there all but on the day it has to be said the best team won and got three points well deserved!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Welcome to Plainmoor Tom Aldred!

Tom-AldredTorquay have today signed 21 year old defender Tom Aldred from Colchester on a loan deal which will last until 2nd January 2012.
Martin Ling has brought Aldred in due to a nasty groin injury for center defender Brian Saah which occurred during United's match against Argyle last weekend. Although there is Chris Robertson, United currently have no back up available.
Ling says "He is a tall lad, Watford saw massive potential in him but it didn't really take off for him there."
"I watched him play for Watford reserves three times last year when I was scouting for Walsall and he really impressed me.
The powerful Scot moved to Colchester from Watford in the summer after also enjoying loan spells with Stockport County and Inverness Caledonian Thistle. He began his career at Carlisle United, joining Watford in the summer of 2010.
Tom will be given the squad number 20 and the deal has now been confirmed by the Football League.

Torquay 2-0 Hereford

Torquay completed yet another happy double-header in confident fashion against Hereford. What with the fantastic 4-0 result on the Tuesday before against Wimbledon, United we’re certain not to stop there.

Like always, I meet my dad and we head up into the bar to meet the other lads who we go with. I think it is fair to say that we were all quite confident with the game ahead. Not saying that just because they’re currently battling down the bottom of the table but we don’t usually have a good run against Hereford but the way our matches we’re going and performance, we felt that luck was on our side!

The line up for both sides for the evening were;
United; Olejnik, Oastler, Saah, Ellis, Nicholson, Mansell, Lathrope, O’Kane, Stevens, Howe, Bodin. Subs; Rowe-Turner, Mcphee, Halpin, Rice, Atieno
Bulls; Cornell, Green, Todd, Stam, Dalibard, Purdie, Featherstone, Clist, Elder, Leslie Barkhuizen. Subs; Mcquilkin, Hoult, Heath, Townsend, Arquin

Martin Ling made one change within the squad after the previous Tuesday night match against the Dons and that was Daniel Leadbitter who’s past injury had reoccurred. That meant that Lathaniel Rowe-Turner was able to take his place on the bench.

The clock had reached 3pm and the game had kicked off. The three top men at the front Stevens, Howe and Bodin almost immediately shook up Herefords defence by stinging together a good set of passes in towards the penalty area but was unfortunately repelled by veteran Bulls defender Any Todd. If anything, both teams had come out in full force but it has to be said that United were looking like the contenders to soon get the lead as the United midfield were belligerently pestering the Bulls but the finishing just wasn’t there

Time was ticking away and we had approached the half way mark of the first half. Stevens looked keen as he struck a stunning cross field pass to Bodin who instantly reacted quick and shot a low shot in which the Bulls goalkeeper Cornell was only able to palm which led United to a throw in. Hereford soon had there moment to shine when there meaningful attack was superbly created, however thankfully, United defender Saah stepped in for a sturdy block on the edge of the area to clear the ball from Nathan Elders ambitious shot. Bodin wasted no time in restoring and collected the cleared ball and took an instant shot from 25 yards only narrowly skimming past the far post.

You could see that the pressure from both sides was starting to kick in just to get that first goal. However this was in United favour as Nicholson notched a low direct free kick which Cornell failed to grasp and fumbled. This was enough to convince the referee that the ball had crossed the line and Gulls were in front within the 40th minute. 1-0.

United didn’t stop there, four minutes after Nicholson’s splendid strike, Ellis had cleared the ball to Stevens up the wing who raced into the clear to feed the ball to O’Kane who ran out to the left corner and crossed into Howe who rounded the hapless Cornell before centring the ball to Bodin who stabbed the ball into an empty net. 2-0

Second half started and Hereford were the first to have a shot on goal but it was the speed of United’s defence that was simply too much for the visitors to cope with. The Bulls had made two changes in refreshment and switched their formation in hope to change their fortunes. However, it wasn't enough for United’s back four as they were admirably firm. Hereford were understandably pushing and throwing men forward but the unfortunate effect for the Bulls was extra space for United to push and gain more opportunities. 

Within 15 minutes remaining, Ling welcomed a fresh set of legs onto the pitch by taking of the spectacular Danny Stevens for Chris Mchpee. Not long after Taiwo Atieno was called off the bench to replace an injured Rene Howe.

Joe Oastler was the next United victim to exploit space on the flank and placing a delightful low cross but was unluckily cleared by Herefords Stefan Stam. The final whistle blow and it was  three points well deserved from the Yellows. Olejnik completed another satisfactory afternoon and another clean sheet. That now means United take home six points in a matter of four days!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Torquay 4-0 AFC Wimbledon

As the saying goes 'good things come to those who wait' and that certainly was the case for Torquay last night. We had currently gone a difficulty of eight games without a victory so tonight meant everything.

As I arrived at the ground with my dad, we brought our tickets for the next three upcoming matches all for a reasonable price of £35 which we considered to be a bargain! We made our way up into the gulls nest as pure usual where we met Olie and Sam and like usual, the banter with them two vs my dad was in full swing. What with our current form and performance, I was definitely pessimistic about the result ahead. Wimbledon weren't doing too bad themselves so I saw nothing other than a defeat.

The lineup for both teams were;
Torquay (4-3-3) Olejnik, Oastler, Saah, Ellis, Nicholson, Mansell, Lathrope, O'Kane, Bodin, Howe, Stevens. Subs: Leadbitter, Rice, Mcphee, Halpin, Atieno
Wimbledon (4-4-2) Brown, Hatton, Stuart, Mcnaughton, Johnson, Jolley, Porter, Moore, Wellard, Midson, L.Moore. Subs: Ademeno, Bush, Minshull, Turner, Mulley.

Robertson was dropped for this game as he had failed a fitness test on his hip, which allowed Oastler to revert back to right back. The first thing I noticed as I stepped into the ground was the fantastic support that Wimbledon had brought seeing as it was a cold and horrible Tuesday evening. A staggering 385, so fair play to those who traveled down. 

As soon as the whistle was blown, Wimbledon were certainly the dominant of the two sides and first to break the defensive line. A cross from Moore met Jolley in the right position but was unfortunately unable to deliver the a finish as the ball fell straight to the hands of Olejnik. In fairness, credit where it is due, this is the best in which I have been our defense so far this season. They looked strong and held it together well. 

Wimbledon had another chance on goal but lucky Saah had it covered and finished with a perfect clearance which fell to the feet of Stevens who was able to escape up the wing and strike a wonderful shot on goal which flew past the hands of Seb Brown and into the top left hand corner. 1-0 Torquay.

Although the Dons were a goal down, that didn't stop them as they maintained their moderate pressure. That wasn't enough though to stop the Gulls as Eunan O'Kane fought the ball from Mcnaughton and raced towards the goal before striking a delightful shot over the Dons keeper. 2-0 Torquay

First first half was fast approaching the close, but Torquay weren't finished yet. Three minutes into injury time, Stevens fed the ball to O'Kane who crossed over to Howe who was superbly on the far post to volley the shot in to make it 3-0. That meant it was three shots on target and three goals well deserved.

Half time and it was definitely one to remember. Normally, they announce the winning ticket number of the 50/50 draw and then pull another ticket out for someone to come and do the crossbar challenge. However, on this occasion no-one came forward to claim it. Therefore, Dean Edwards the commercial director picked someone from the fans, and who better to do it than Olie! (@oliemarles10) Fair play to him, he was up for it although, slightly puzzled as to why he took his shoes off but nevertheless he showed amazing tekkers! Unfortunately he didn't hit the crossbar.

There was one change in the second half with the superb Stevens taking a seat on the bench. He's been suffering with flu all week and tonight really had drained it out of him. Therefore, he was replaced with Taiwo Atieno. Wimbledon still weren't going to let the score line get the better of them and still continued to push forward. However, it finally come to an end when in the 56th minute when O'Kane intercepted a sloppy pass from their defense with enabled him to play the ball to Atieno who was unfortunate to lay the ball back but that didn't stop Howe picking up the pieces and smashing a tremendous low shot towards goal from 25 yards. 4-0 Torquay

The closing minutes were just around the corner and the atmosphere when the final whistle was blown was something else. The Gulls really had stepped up their game and just proved that we are capable of stringing together a result. Thoroughly deserved!

MOTM; Eunan O'Kane

This Saturday, we take on Hereford at home. Match report to follow...

Monday, 10 October 2011

Interview with Chris Hargreaves - Tarzan!

I feel quite privileged to have the opportunity to interview Chris Hargreaves. If it wasn't for a company called @fridayproject who happened to see a conversation on twitter with @DaveWeeks16 about suggesting to interview him, I don't know how I would of achieved this!

Chris Hargreaves has played for a number of clubs throughout his career such as Grimsby Town, Scarborough, West Brom, Hereford, Plymouth Argyle, Northampton, Brentford, Oxford and Torquay. Chris made 105 appearances for Torquay scoring 14 goals. He scored Torquay's first goal as he captained them in a 2 - 0 victory over Cambridge United in the Conference play-off final at Wembley. The victory earned Torquay promotion back into the The Football League. 

1) The playoff final was a big day for everyone, therefore what thoughts and emotions were running through your head when the final whistle was blown?
It was a case of pure relief, so much had happened that season whether it was on or off the pitch. For me, it had been 57 games of blood, stitches, injections and a lot of ups and downs! It was an amazing feeling when the whistle was blown. I was more delighted for my family than myself and the fans at Wembley that day. It was a great day for their brilliant support.

2) It came a shock to everyone when it was announced you would be leaving Torquay, was it your decision and how did it all come about?
It was a shock to me when I realised that I would be leaving the club as I had thought I would be seeing my career out at the club, but Paul Buckle wanted a different team and I didn't feel that I could sit on the bench or in the stand and just pick up my money after having such a brilliant time at the club. Myself and the manager had a great rapport on and off the field but it just became tense at the end but that's just football. It soon becambe clear that Oxford wanted me and I decided that another job needed finishing. Football can be a bit ruthless but it didn't matter as I had achieved exactly what I had set out to do at Torquay, to lead the team back into the league. I will admit it was a wrench to leave though!

3) You later joined Oxford in January 2010 but after making 10 appearances and Oxford getting back into the league, you left. What happened?
I was very proud to have gone back and help Oxford and achieve promotion. It was a tough decision rejoin the going club from one club as captain to another club and being made captain, it was bizarre. It was always going to be a short term deal as I wanted to stay in Devon. Ultimately, those ten games and travelling to and from Oxford probably finished my career, but I always felt there was some unfinished business at Oxford and I wanted to help the club achieve promotion.  

4) What is your most memorable footballing memory and achievement during your whole career?
Scoring on my debut will always remain special but scoring at Wembley and leading the team up the steps to lift the trophy takes some beating. The relationship I had with the fans at Torquay was something which I shall never forget.

5) Your worst memory/experience?
Standing on any pitch after any relegation is a dark day but having to retire has easily been the worst part of my career. I still find it tough now.

6) You've just released a book called 'Wheres your caravan' - What is the logic behind the title and what is the book?
I decided to call it that as a bit of a laugh really. As I have been at so many clubs and have such long hair, I think the title worked! My locks have now been chopped though!

7) If you weren't a footballer, what other career choice would you have liked to have done and why?
I always find it hard to answer this question as I had nothing else in mind other than making it as a footballer but I would have liked to give tennis or motocross a go had football not been an option.

8) What are your plans for the immediate future?
I have a sports shop in Sidmouth called Chris Hargreaves Sports Republic which has gone really well. The support I have had has been brilliant and I am so thankful for that. It would be fantastic to be able to open another one somewhere else (hopefully Torquay!!)

9) What are your plans for the long term future?
I really enjoy doing a a few bits for TV and radio and you never know what may crop up there. Writing is obviously a passion so I hope that continues, and fingers crossed a football job is around the corner.

10) Finally, name 5 people you would least like to have round for a dinner part
Bin Laden, Gaddafi, Jedward, the referee who wrongly awarded a free tick to Mansfield in the play-off semi final that cost us the game and the chance of promotion (not that I'm bitter!) and probably Jeremy Kyle for being such a weasel.

You can get your copy of Chris's book 'Wheres your caravan' from Amazon for a smashing price of £5.29 -