The Gulls live to fight another day after a hard-fought victory over Halifax Town at Plainmoor. Torquay dominated the first half against a tired-looking opposition but could not make their possession in the final third count. Shaymen stopper Johnson made a couple of smart saves and Owers promises us that \’next season will be 100% better.\’ Making sure that every player who takes the pitch gives 100%- as we saw today- is a good place to start.efenders threw their bodies on the line in resilient fashion to frustrate the home faithful.
The second half started in the same vein with the ever-growing fear (and time-honoured tradition) of a goal against the run of play materialising the longer the game stayed at 0-0.
GOAL – However, Jamie Reid broke the deadlock on the hour mark, sending a half volley back towards goal after a dangerous cross had only been half-cleared, the ball was adjudged to have crossed the line by the assistant referee.
Balatoni 6 Gowling 6 McGinty 6
Barnes 6 Davis 6 Young 6 Evans 7
Reid 6 Williams 6.5
Subs: Dowling 6 Keating 6
MAN OF THE MATCH: RHYS HEALEY
Rhys Healey was a constant threat, giving a dynamic performance in the free role, linking the midfield and strikers together effortlessly. You can clearly see that he is playing at a couple of levels below himself by the positions he takes up and the way he uses the ball. A smart turn and shot in the first half nearly produced a fine goal and he was at the heart of most of our best moves in the second half too.
It was a massive, benevolent gesture from Mr Warnock to lend us Rhys and had it come just a couple of weeks earlier we might be a lot closer to safety.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans is really starting to look comfortable at this level, keeping the ball moving, strong in the tackle and a good engine to get around the pitch. He and Luke Young worked well as a partnership today and looked to keep United on the front foot against a side showing effects of fatigue.
Jamie Reid has been much maligned this season, certainly more so than players more deserving of abuse. Whenever I see him he always puts in 100% effort, which is all I ever ask for, and which is something I can’t always say of others. It was a shame that in scoring the crucial goal he felt he was not able to celebrate in a way that scoring a decisive goal should be celebrated. He did well to put the ball back into the danger area and was, as always, a willing runner.
Torquay appeared to throw a bit of caution to the wind today perhaps trying to exploit a Halifax team playing their fourth game in eight days by pinning them back. Indeed, I can’t recall so many efforts at goal in a first half for a long time and a ‘shoot on sight’ and ‘cross it early’ policy appeared to be adopted in order to keep the pressure on the Halifax defence.
Ironically, that approach would have been well served against their ten men when the decisive second goal was there for the taking but for better decision making in the final third.
Ultimately, this result should not have any bearing on their season with survival all but sewn up – and that represents a fine season from a team who have been relegated and bounced straight back at the first opportunity: perhaps a blueprint we would be fortunate to replicate?
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: LIAM DAVIS
Liam Davis has earned favourable reviews all season (not difficult in our sea of dross, admittedly) but I am not so sure he has been as effective as others make out. Undoubtedly, he carries the ball forward well, and he works tirelessly running the line for 90 minutes, but his end product is virtually non-existent.
Despite constantly getting into threatening positions in advanced areas, his crosses often fails to beat the first man, or more often than not is over hit and bypasses the whole box. Wing-backs offer our sole width and I cannot remember a single goal scored all season from their deliveries. If Gary Owers is to remain with this formation next season then their final ball has to be better.
Today‘s result makes our position in the table all the more galling, this relegation was eminently avoidable if we had not thrown so many easy points away to mostly average opposition. It has been confirmed that Gary Owers will be in charge throughout the summer and into next season.
We must hope that he is learning from these matches to ensure that the simple mistakes that have plagued us all season are not repeated. Owers promises us that ‘next season will be 100% better.’ Making sure that every player who takes the pitch gives 100%- as we saw today– is a good place to start.