Sunday, 30 August 2015

Stunning

Let me start by saying that I wasn't at Torquay today - I spent the afternoon with my girlfriend and my kids at Cattle Country in Berkeley with the commentary on the radio - and loved every minute of it.
So therefore I can't tell you if it was sending-off or not - but I can still tell you even without having been at Plainmoor that to play for 83 minutes with 10 men and come away with our biggest away win in three and a half years is absolutely fantastic.
Not since we went to Dagenham and won 5-0 in February 2012 have we won so convincingly on the road -but seldom in our history can we have won so well with a numerical disadvantage for most of the game.
That's only our second win on the road in 2015 and our first in 14 matches - we haven't taken maximum points since Jack Dunn and Kevin Stewart's goals at Oxford in January.
It was a brilliant and much-deserved reward for the 277 who did make the trip - the vast majority of whom go absolutely everywhere and haven't had much to shout about over the past two seasons. They came over loud and clear on the radio and deserve all the credit in the world for sticking by the club. This one is for you lot.
Finally, they seem to have the team their loyalty over these recent dark times merits - one that matches their passion and players who appear to want to put shifts in for the club and its' fans.
In the five matches before today, we have seen work-rate, backbone, resilience and commitment, words which were alien to the vast majority of players last season, and the one before that.
Today's result under those circumstances only reinforces that further, and will send a message out around the league that we are a team which means business.
It should bring bundles of confidence and belief to everyone - directors, manager, players and fans - let's face it, if a 3-0 win with 10 men can't do that, then nothing will.
So far, we have dominated without winning against Lincoln and Aldershot, ground down a stubborn Southport and then hit back from behind against Chester and Barrow.
It was that never-say-die attitude from the latter two games which obviously came to the fore again today.
Past CTFC sides would have folded after the red card - even one of the best sides we have had in recent times did just that at Southend a few years back.
That Southend team are a better side by far than this Torquay one, but even so let's take absolutely nothing away from our win at all
To go away and win 3-0 with 10 men for 83 minutes is simply stunning.
This result might just dispel a few doubts that some CTFC fans have had about this team being capable of challenging at the top this season.
With results like this, we clearly are. This team is clearly made of a much better material than most of the ones which have gone before, definitely in the very recent past.
In the opening five games, we have especially seen the quality of Kyle Storer, Jack Munns, Aaron Downes, Jack Barthram, Daniel Parslow and Amari Morgan-Smith, while Danny Wright has led the line superbly. But all of them have played their part.
I have seen criticism of Wright for his failure to get on the scoresheet until now despite his hard work in every game. For that reason I was especially delighted to hear his two goals go in.
He has deserved them for his performances up to now - a number nine who is prepared to put a shift in is a refreshing and welcome sight. Not since Neil Grayson have we had a consistent hard worker leading the line.
So that's Wright, Storer, Downes and Morgan-Smith all with two goals each now - Munns and Dickie (who looks another decent Johnson signing) also on target, so six scorers of our 10 goals - another good sign in my view as it means goals are being spread round the side.
I know some fans want to see a 20-goal striker - but these are few and far between anyway and it can't always be good to rely too much on one player for goals.
That one player could get injured, or sold, or lose form - so for me it's always healthy to see a number of players weighing in with the goals.
There is still a long way to go but it is great to see smiles back on people's faces and such positivity coursing through the club as we get ready for the BT Sport TV cameras to roll into town on Monday.
We go into the game with confidence and belief, unbeaten in six games against a side who have won their last five. Two in form sides, on a Bank Holiday, on live TV. What more do you want? Should be a cracker!
At the moment, it's not just the players in the side displaying great confidence. It was great to see four loanees score seven goals between them this weekend - Harry Williams with three and Bobbie Dale two for Farnborough, Zack Kotwica one for Cirencester and Joe Hanks one for Gloucester.
There has been a lot of talk about these four players, as well as James Bowen, being sent out and whether it's the right decision.
My view is that at the moment it is, as they need regular games. With only five subs, there is less chance for them to be in the squad.
I certainly don't believe it is Gary Johnson writing them off as not good enough. He has talked positively about them, and I feel if he didn't deem them to be good enough or without sufficient potential, he would have listed them as he did with Deaman, Sterling-James and co at the end of last season.
The club's outlook is currently short-term - we need to get promoted this season. If we don't go up,we should be seeing plenty of them next season as first-team mainstays
I have great sympathy for these five lads in particular. I feel Mark Yates treated them poorly as he had chances to use them and get them into the squad in the past and he just didn't trust them - instead he opted to bring in loanee after loanee.
A small minority of them were okay, granted. But you cannot tell me that players like Lee Lucas, Billy Daniels, Eusebio and co were any better than Hanks, Williams or Kotwica would have been at the time. I still feel Bowen would have done no worse than our left-back did in the last two seasons...
I feel other clubs and managers would have used them. Williams, for example, had something like 40 goals in reserve and youth football two seasons ago. Yates opted to ignore that and bring in stop-start loans who didn't care rather than using 'one of our own'and giving our academy a shot in the arm. Why have an academy if you aren't going to pay any attention to it?
Over these past two seasons, these five players have, in my view, been let down a bit, and have become victims of circumstances. Yates could have used them, then at the start of last season but he marginalised them. As we slid down the table and manager after manager came in, a relegation battle was then deemed not the time or place for them, despite Paul Buckle giving a few of them a run-out.
So now, Gary Johnson still doesn't feel they are ready for a 'promotion or bust' battle - and I am delighted to see them going out and scoring goals. Hopefully they can all come back in January (or even before) and play a part for us.
But with better development and more exposure to the first team, they would already be in our side, or we'd know by now if they were good enough or not, and one or two might have been let go.
We should not still be here needing to still know if they are good enough or not, as they are all around 19 or 20. I think they have all shown little signs and I really think it would be a crying shame if they were all simply allowed to slip away without being able to properly show what they can do.
My feeling is that if that happens, a few of them could turn out like Marley Watkins or Sam Foley - going away and having decent careers somewhere, when they should have fulfilled their potential here.