A SLOPPY first-half display in Friday’s 2-1 defeat to Leeds in a pre-season friendly prompted United manager Martin Ling to identify five payers as way short of the mark.
Ross McCormack scored two fine goals in the first 10 minutes for the visitors, as the Championship side threatened to run away with the match.
The Gulls came back strongly after the break with a number of excellent performances from our younger contingent, culminating in a late consolation by first-year pro Kirtys MacKenzie
“As you’re building a team in games, it is about individual performances and I spoke to the 11 in the first-half because there were a few off their normal game,” said manager Martin Ling.
“I won’t go into names but four or five were told it wasn’t what we expect. I’m not being ultra-critical but the standards we set ourselves are what we need to maintain.
“A few struggled in the first half, gave them a two-goal lead and we never really got going. It was a lot better in the second half and that was with a lot younger side. There was possibly a few of them coming on and wondering whether that was the gaffer’s first 11 starting the game – it certainly wasn’t.
“When you look at the boys who come on [Tom] Cruise was excellent, [Craig] Easton was excellent, [Lloyd] Macklin was outstanding again, Nathan Craig was very good and Danny Stevens was as well, so the five subs have performed well.
“Even the young lads did well. Obviously Kirtys came on and scored, and Niall Thompson gave us some input in terms of pace and Ashley Yeoman did well, so the second half was more of what we expect.
“Some people need to be reminded of what got us near the top last year and I know it’s early, but if you set your stall out early, it runs all the way through.
“There were no league points on show, so it’s about performances. I want people to drive forward and make us better than last year. The squad of 22 is strong in all departments, apart from maybe centre-back.
“I don’t mean that against Brian Saah and Aaron Downes but we’re maybe one short in there, although young Kirtys might start thinking he can be the third choice and step up to the plate.”