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274 Miles From Sleaford!
By: Trevor Hewson
ITâ€™S a long way down to both Torquay and the depths we are currently trawling so it was quite understandable that yesterday evening started with a couple of beers in The Yacht by the harbour. The singing of â€˜Marinersâ€™ to the incoming boat crew was met with bemusement but we thought it was funny.
After a quick run up to the ground with a taxi driver who was tuned into the Archers on many levels, the walk to the gate was accompanied by a couple of locals pondering the imminent scrapping of their own fishing boat. Thus a homely pre-match atmosphere was well and truly created.
Trouble is, the stripier Mariners were also seduced by the Devonian welcome, so much so that within three minutes they were behind. A ball that was hopefully looped into the night air found Barnes at the edge of the box who flapped/punched clear all of 10 yards, straight to a Torquay player who, sensing Neweyâ€™s obvious bemusement at the thought of having to mark an opponent, played the ball to the said unmarked opponent (Ward) who tried his best to let our Tom recover before slamming the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle. Big yellow and blue hugs all round, smelt like team spirit to me.
For the next 10 minutes or so Torquay pretty much kept the ball to themselves and no matter how hard they tried, Town could not make an impact. In fact the most notable and telling GTFC contribution over this period was the rollicking Buckley gave to Poor Tom for dithering over a throw-in. Would have been nice if the players had shown as much passion as their manager.
On 20 mins Ward gimped off and there was a glimmer of hope that this useful looking player leaving the field would aid our cause. Indeed shortly after this town had their first real attack of the half. A great ball released Patterson down the right channel, he looked across in the vain hope that anyone in black and white had kept up with him and on seeing no team-mate within 30 yards, did well to get a shot in that flashed across the face of the goal. A huge swipe of the ball by Bolland which I suppose was a shot went out for a corner and normal service was resumed.
Torquay were able to amble through the town defence on a number of occasions, one producing a tidy but comfortable save by Barnes.
Newey then joined Ward in being subbed before half time where he appeared to be getting some strong words of advice from AB. This may or may not be the case as the writer also understands that Tom had been suffering from illness all week and probably should not have played. As far as I am concerned though, you are either fit enough to play or not, and with Macca again sat on the bench with Fenton, I'm sure there were better options than someone who for whatever reason was not up to the job.
Town did force a corner but the ease with which Torquay used a corner for us as an opportunity to launch another counter attack, showed again how the game was going. This trend was epitomised in the final moments of the half when a shot by Bolland was followed by a punt into the Town half, straight to yet another former Mariner who scored neatly in the bottom corner. Well done Lee Thorpe!
Half time had come and the travelling fans were in a state of utter shock at such an abject effort against the 92nd team in the league.
During the interval my travelling companion used my visit to the steaming tea bar as an opportunity to use the power of art to illustrate a fuming AB in the dressing room. If ever there was a time for his magical skills to return it was now.
Bore replaced the anonymous Hegarty at the break and Town did start the half in a more positive manner, a few decent passes from Croft and Bore led to the latter being fouled and the former playing a ball into the home box where it ping-ponged around and gave rise to an unconvincing appeal for a penalty which our officials for the evening chose, not for the last time, to ignore.
Torquay attacked again and forced Croft into a sharp clearance off the line. Town regrouped and attacked again, this time a Torquay defender caught the ball with both hands and after trying to shove it up his shirt, hacked it away past the oblivious referee and his assistant. We'd have missed it anyway but hope is everything.
Shortly afterwards the game was over in an instant, a great run by Patto, a shot against the bar, another rejected handball appeal all led to another sharp counter-attack by Torquay, who in turn hit the angle of the goal by a shot that deceived, Barnes. The ball rebounded to our Old Mr Thorpe to calmly slot home. Contest over!
The final ignominy was preceded by a period of sheer nothingness, a long ball into the Town box resulted in a Torquay penalty after a silly challenge by I think Fenton but it was a long way away. Up steps Lee Thorpe to complete his hat-trick. He didn't look this good for us but then the opposition were much better than we were last night.
One of Townâ€™s few bright players, Patterson, forced a decent enough save from the safe but sizeable Miller, who shortly afterwards had the rarest of tasks. He picked the ball out of his net after a fine Patterson goal. A strong run down the Town left, a cut inside and a fierce shot into the roof of the net.
Sadly however due to your reporter's over-enthusiastic but misunderstood and very ironic celebrations on the edge of the pitch, the remaining 3 minutes of the match are described to you through a 4 inch gap in the gate. The only point worth any mention was a free kick from a promising position that was off target and wasted.
Thatâ€™s it, itâ€™s too early for post-mortems, the corpse is still warm, beer and curry are calling very, very loud. All I will say is that myself and the other 121 visiting Town fans witnessed a low far in excess of anything I can think of and things have to improve with immediate and significant effect.
MOM: Martin Patterson : Never gave up, battled and finally ended the goal drought.
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