Torquay United's efforts are all in vain as Parkin seals victory for Fleetwood
They never have handed out points for "shoulds" or "maybes", and the fact that Torquay United did not deserve to lose 1-0 to Fleetwood Town at Plainmoor on Saturday will mean less than the information on a supermarket ready meal when they tally up the points at the end of the npower League Two season.
The 1-0 scoreline at half-time was the proverbial travesty of justice – only Fleetwood goalkeeper Scott Davies had kept his side in the game set against Jon Parkin's lone 26th-minute header.
United were not quite as good in the second half, even though only the crossbar stopped Aaron Downes equalising at the end. But the Gulls' assistant manager Shaun Taylor, running the show for the third game in the absence through illness of Martin Ling, has seen it all before and probably has a drawer-full of T-shirts to prove it.
In United's situation – they have taken only five points out of 24 – the last thing they can afford is to feel sorry for themselves. So Taylor quickly pointed out that any credit of offer for this display would go out of the window if the team did not produce more of the same, hopefully with a goal or two to show for it, when Rotherham United come to Plainmoor tomorrow night.
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The easy thing to assume is that United must have missed suspended leading scorer Rene Howe. They would have liked him to be available, on Saturday and tomorrow, but even Howe would have been hard pressed to improve on some of the play which opened up Fleetwood's miserly defence.
The League new boys have conceded only 12 goals in 14 away games, but how they survived intact for the first 45 minutes must have been a source of wonder on their long journey home.
United, who gave Ryan Jarvis the Howe "target man" role and recalled young striker Ashley Yeoman as support, had eight efforts on target to Fleetwood's one in the first half. Billy Bodin gave his best performance for months on the left wing, beating Town right-back Conor McLaughlin inside and out.
Jarvis, lacking the physical stature of Howe, still battled manfully against visiting centre-backs Rob Atkinson, who was booked for taking out Yeoman as early as the tenth minute, and Alan Goodall.
The result was that Fleetwood had to keep out serious shots or headers by Jarvis, Lee Mansell, Yeoman, Bodin twice, Kevin Nicholson and Nathan Craig. United still also believe that they should have had a penalty when Mansell's early shot clearly hit Goodall's raised hand.
Referee Paul Gibbs turned that down and, after penalising the first challenge by Atkinson on Jarvis, he then ignored a whole series of much worse incidents, on both sides, throughout the rest of the match.
Quite how much money Fleetwood have invested in their strikers, big Jon "The Beast" Parkin and Jamille Matt, probably only ambitious chairman Andy Pilley knows. And he is likely to keep it to himself.
Matt cost £300,000 from Kidderminster Harriers last month and Parkin, who makes Howe look under-nourished these days, will not be playing for your average League Two wage.
Neither made much impression on Brian Saah and Aaron Downes, Parkin making it until the 39th minute before injury forced him off, and Matt withdrawn early in the second half.
But a look in the book will tell you that, when it counted, Parkin delivered.
In the 26th minute, just after Downes had returned from treatment for a nick over his right eye, Fleetwood left-back Dean Howell hung a long high cross to the far post.
Parkin hauled his considerable frame up and between Downes and Nicholson and directed a clever header back across goal and just inside the near post from eight yards.
It was a tough scoreline to take and Fleetwood deserve credit for adopting attack as a good way of defending their lead. Ryan Crowther had a headed goal disallowed, Michael Poke pulled off one excellent save from substitute David Ball and only a top block by Downes stopped Ball from hitting the target inside the area in the 85th minute.
Downes went close with a header from Nicholson's 58th-minute corner, Jarvis was inches away from getting on the end of a raking diagonal ball by Craig and Nicholson unleashed a 30-yard volley which Davies did well to hold.
But United must have known it was not going to be their day when, in stoppage-time, Downes rose at the far-post to meet Nicholson's free-kick from the right.
Davies was beaten at last, but the ball thumped against the bar and went away.