Torquay 1 Blackpool 0 - full match report

Share this article

IN 1984, with money at Torquay tight, the board put pressure on young manager Bruce Rioch to sell star player Colin Anderson to balance the books.

Rioch agreed, admitting it was the only way to save the club, but became infuriated when Anderson's form nosedived.

Frustration growing, it culminated in Rioch punching the player on the jaw after Anderson nutmegged him during a training ground five-a-side match.

Faced with the prospect of Anderson going to the PFA, the club suggested Rioch resign, which he promptly did.

Twenty years later, Rioch stated: "What I did was inexcusable. It was a period of my career which I deeply regret, but I learned from the experience."

A fairly interesting tale and quite apt too for I wager Tony Parkes and Steve Thomspon felt like punching something or someone both during and after this embarrassing and dire FA Cup exit at the hands of Torquay.

First let us congratulate the non-league side.

The Gulls, who made what for the fans must have been a truly heartbreaking exit from the Football League two years ago for the first time in the club's history, played well, were the better side and completey and utterly deserved their victory.

Blackpool, on the other hand, were awful.

Aside from a bright spell at the start, which lasted approximately 12 and a half minutes, they were second best and created little of note.

Home goalkeeper Scott Bevan, a man who if he'd taken up boxing looked like he could have given the likes of Joe Bugner and George Foreman a hell of a fight, did not have a single shot to save all afternoon.

As one observer commented, Bevan had more chance of contracting frostbite than conceding a goal.

The Seasiders just never got going, passing the ball badly and failing to get any cohesive moves going. The players get the plaudits when things are going well so let us pull no punches here – they were woeful.

Then again is it really the players' fault? That might sound a daft statement to make but even I, a below average Sunday Leaguer, know that making five changes to any team from one game to the next will result in a disjointed and weaker performance.

And that's what happened.

Due to the exit of the loan players, the suspension of Gary Taylor-Fletcher and an injury to skipper Rob Edwards, Pool faced Torquay with only half a dozen of the players who were so impressive in holding runaway Championship leaders Wolves last time out.

That is bound to cause disruption.

However, they should have performed better than this because the basic fact is that Torquay bossed proceedings and created much the better chances.

They would have won by a wider margin had Lee Hodges' late free-kick gone in rather than strikinng the inside of the post with Paul Rachubka beaten.

A makeshift 11 it might have been (especially with the likes of Stuart Green and Daniel Nardiello brought in from out of the blue) but the 11 were still Championship-standard players and should have been able to at least match a team 60 places below them in the football set-up.

Are Tony Parkes and Steve Thompson are to blame? Not really. Maybe it was odd that Green was preferred to Claus Jorgensen but were the new management duo responsible for defeat? No.

The pair have inherited a nightmare situation. They've lost all eight loanees and at Torquay were struggling even to fill the bench (hence the inclusion of an unfit Rob Edwards and Stephen Crainey, neither of whom would have been risked under any circumstances).

Like Max Moseley on a night out, the managers' hands were tied.

It was most apparent up front where Nardiello and Ben Burgess were the only fit strikers. When things were going badly, and with an understandably rusty-looking Nardiello tiring rapidly, Parkes and Thompson couldn't change it.

The only attack-minded player they had among the seven substitutes was Dominic Merella, a teenage youth team player.

To be fair to Merella, he managed to do more in his 15 minute spell on the pitch than most of his team-mates had done in the previous 75. A lad who did well pre-season deserved his chance and on this brief evidence deserves further opportunities.

The bottom line is this though: Parkes and Thomspon have to make at least two signings this week and freshen things up for Birmingham.

The squad suddenly looks alarmingly thin and has as much firepower as a knackered cannon.

It could also do with chairman Karl Oyston saying to the pair "the job's yours", and giving them some cash and his full backing.

Either that or give the job to someone else but either way the air of uncertainty surrounding the club can do nothing but harm in the long term. As well as affecting perofrmances and results on the pitch, it could also hinder attracting players to the club.

The gap over the bottom three in the Championship is only seven points.

That can soon be whittled away if there is a poor sequence of results.

All that said, let's not forget that the last two results prior to disaster at Torquay had been excellent. Hopefully, with new players brought in, it will prove to be a blip.

It seems unecessary to depress ourselves with the details of what actually happened at Torquay so let's keep it brief.

Pool actually had a couple of decent openings early on, Green's cross headed wide by Burgess and then David Fox, teed up by David Vaughan, slashed wide with the goal at his mercy. That turned out to be the clearest opening the Seasiders would have.

By this point Rachubka had already made a terrific save to stop Wayne Carlisle's pointblank volley.

But the Gulls weren't to be denied and delighted the home fans by taking the lead on 31 minutes. And what poor defending it was.

Left back Kevin Nicholson thumped a routine long ball over the heads of Danny Coid and Shaun Barker (the latter playing as the right-sided centre back) and striker Matt Green smashed in an angled drive from 18 yards.

Quality finish from a player who caused Barker and Ian Evatt problems all afternoon and was easily man of the match.

For the remaining hour, Parkes and Thompson did what they could.

Vaughan and Green swapped flanks, Jorgensen and Merella came off the subs' bench and Evatt even played centre forward for the final few minutes.

But try as the players might – and in fairness they did try pretty hard during the final quarter of an hour – they couldn't muster much more than a blocked Merella shot and Green failing to connect properly with Nardiello's centre when he had a clear sight of goal.

At no point did Torquay really have to panic or slash at anything because they didn't come under that much pressure.

Indeed it was they who came closest to scoring, a combination of Rachubka and Jorgensen scrambling Carlisle's header off the line, Wroe almost chipping in from the halfway line, and Hodges superb free-kick halted in its tracks by the woodwork.

In a town made famous by the antics of Basil Fawlty, Pool turned in a rather slapstick performance of their own – except nobody from the Fylde was laughing.

Through no fault of their own, Parkes and Thompson have it all to do to rebuild a team which has been torn apart and suddenly looks worryingly vulnerable.