REFLECTION | "Every point is one closer to our target"
Assistant coach Matt Saunders was pleased to see the evolution of this Wealdstone side continue with what he felt was a fully-warranted point at home to Torquay.
The visitors finished second in the league last season, narrowly missing out on promotion to the Football League via the playoffs, and were unbeaten in their last four heading to The Vale, but the Stones took the lead through Jaydn Mundle-Smith and it took an 82-minute equaliser for The Gulls to rescue a point. The performance and the result showed just how far the boys in blue and white have come since they were beaten 5-0 by the same opposition earlier in the season.
"Every point is one closer to our target," said Saunders. "We always go out to win the game, but a point was fair. They edged the first half, they pressed high but once we got the lads in at half-time and spoke to them tactically about how to take the press and the impetus away, I thought we controlled the second half. We deserved the goal and it was a brilliant goal, too. It was disappointing to concede but that's where we are at as a team. If you take the next step, and avoid goals like that, you end up being a playoff team."
Saunders and the manager, Stuart Maynard, have taken great pride in ensuring their side have been highly competitive in just about every game this season, with most games against big-spending opposition being decided by the odd goal.
"The fact we are limiting a side like Torquay, with the quality they have, to one goal and even taking the lead is a massive positive," said Saunders. "Conceding late on is an annoyance but it's something we want to learn from. Our defensive record is good. I was more concerned earlier in the season when we went behind first as it then becomes an uphill battle. Up until recently we only got one point after falling behind and that was at Weymouth."
After shoring up last season's leaky blackline and make the team a compact unit, the management team are now adding a layer of attacking play on top.
" We are exciting attacking team now," said Saunders. "Having Brownie back is great. [Charles] Clayden, on loan from Charlton, is exciting and [David] Sesay is getting up to speed. He can go one v one and then we don't have to rely so much on the patterns of play. We can now work on overloads and be able to exploit them. We are doing the same thing as we were two months ago, but we are now adding quality in those key attacking areas. We look a good attacking threat. We're in a good positon and it's an exciting time. I'm so excited about what we are doing on the pitch. The leap we have made from last season is massive. We've got to keep being hungry and keep getting better."