Booking cramped Nathan Craig's combative style for Torquay United
HE still picked up the Man Of The Match award, but young midfielder Nathan Craig admitted that his 44th minute booking cramped his style in the second half of the 0-0 Devon derby against Plymouth Argyle at Plainmoor.
Former Everton starlet Craig, 20, produced a mature display as Torquay United's midfield 'anchorman' and was then cautioned, harshly many thought, by referee Roger East just before the interval.
"I didn't think the challenge merited a booking, but the ref said it was my third foul when I didn't even remember one of them," said Craig, who was making only his second League start.
"I was told at half-time to stay on my feet and watch the tackles, which made it difficult in the second half.
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"It played on my mind."
Manager Martin Ling saw Craig's performance – he's come into the side after injuries to Damon Lathrope and Craig Easton – as one of the major plusses from a slightly frustrating day.
"I can hardly remember Nathan giving the ball away in the first half," said Ling.
"I think we may have unearthed another real diamond, and we'll keep rubbing it until it sparkles."
Craig, of course, has followed a similar path to Plainmoor as that taken by Eunan O'Kane a couple of years ago – released at Goodison Park, returned 'home' to play part-time football before securing a trial and then a full contract with the Gulls.
O'Kane, who was sold to AFC Bournemouth for £175,000 this summer, went back to Ulster and was playing for Coleraine before joining United.
Craig was turning out for his hometown club Caernarfon in North Wales when Ling gave him his chance last New Year.
Mr. East's decision – he made his 'debut' in the Premier League (Swansea-v-Sunderland) the week before – to book Craig was one of many that disappointed Ling.
"The game wasn't helped by the referee blowing his whistle every few minutes," said Ling.
"He's got to understand that there will be some physical contact in any game, especially one like that, but there's a difference between physical contact and a foul.
"I thought that Plymouth came and played for the draw and got it.
"They will enjoy the point more than us.
"We're still unbeaten after five games, but we've had four draws now and there's too many of them.
"There were some pleasing points as well.
"We only expected to get an hour out of (winger) Danny Stevens after his lay-off, but I was really pleased with the 65 minutes he had.
"I thought we were the better side in the first half, but the game went a bit scrappy in the second and we never really got at their goalkeeper then."