Torquay United 2 – 5 Gillingham

See the goals from this game at http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/b0167znt/?t=1h01m26s

So, the first time I had seen Torquay play in a while. Martin Ling has been quite critical of the defence recently, particularly in the 9-1 reserve defeat to Swindon in the week, and the problems were all too apparent on Saturday.

Torquay played quite well going forward in the first half and in some ways were unlucky to go in two goals down at half time. Howe and Atieno were causing a handful up front and Stevens looks to finally be coming into his own much more on the left. But there were defensive frailties clear for both Gillingham goals. The defence was caught square for the first goal, ex-United player Jo Kuffour the first to get to a header over the top, and then against the first to react to a free kick in behind the defence to the back post.

Torquay came me out much stronger for the second half and got back level very quickly. A good header by Robertson from a corner, then a great finish by Stevens, latching on to a ball over the top from Howe providing the goals. But then a clumsy penalty, a breakaway goal which could have been stopped and a fluke cross.

Defence

There are definite frailties, which Ling has pointed out. The crowd behind me were calling for Mark Ellis on Saturday and putting much of the blame on Brian Saah. Whether it his is fault, or they see him as Ling's man, I am not sure. He is not the same kind of defender who attacks the ball in the same way as Ellis, or Guy Branston, and maybe that is what they are after.

Ling has said that Ellis will get his chance next week, which I think is good. Whether Saah will give way or not is undecided. Personally I would make that change. But I would also consider the right back slot, and maybe move Mansell back there to steady the defence, making the back four the same as last season (minus Branston). Oastler could move into holding midfield, or Lathrope could come in. 

Going Forward

Torquay looked promising going forward until the final touch. Howe and Atieno are both strong and hold the ball up well. O'Kane is measured and Stevens becoming more of an influence. What we're missing is a poacher, someone to get the final touch and score the goals, someone like Elliot Benyon. If we can get this final part of the jigsaw sorted out, aand the defence strengthened, this season can still be promising.

Next game: Torquay v Hereford on 29th October.

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