Jonathan Jones – @Jonny_Jones
Torquay United gave the travelling faithful an early Christmas present on Saturday as goals from Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala (x2) and Saikou Janneh were enough to take all 3 points from Hampton and Richmond Borough.
The game got off to a scrappy start and although United looked the more threatening, it took a quarter of an hour for them to create their first real chance. The ball found its way to Kalala on the right and his deflected shot was well-saved by Lovelock in the H&R goal.
United, and Kalala were not denied for long. A minute later, Reid fed Kalala again and this time the Frenchman made no mistake, planting a right foot shot into the top corner. Lovelock had no chance, and the Yellow Army beside the goal went wild!
Bar a brief spell of H&R pressure, United were the better side for the rest of the half and should have got a second. CLE almost latched onto a Janneh through ball, before Janneh very nearly poked home a rebound following an Asa Hall effort from the edge of the area. 1-0 to the Gulls at half time (yes, 1-0 ;)).
H&R came flying out the traps after the break and almost drew level. A mistake at the back let H&R’s Dickson in, but the number 10 could only dink the ball over the outrushing Macdonald and onto the post. It was a let-off for United, but their response was immediate. A long cross-field pass wasn’t dealt with by Connors, and Kalala, with the bit between his teeth, nipped in and slotted it under the keeper. 2-0 to the Gulls and a sucker punch for the home side.
H&R still didn’t roll over and responded with a good spell of pressure. They had a half-decent penalty claim that may have been awarded on a different day (seen them given!). But it was to be United’s day, and the 3 points were sealed 20 minutes from time. Lemonheigh-Evans pinged it long to Janneh, who took it down brilliantly, and with only the keeper to beat, stroked it into the bottom corner. Get in!
United saw the game out comfortably enough. It was nice to see Olaf Koszela come on for his league debut and although it would have been icing on the cake for Reid to have put a late chance away, I, along with over 400 merry Gulls, was not complaining on the way out of the Beveree Stadium.
Top of the league, you’re having a laugh.
MacDonald – 6: Didn’t have too much to do, more down to H&R’s poor finishing! Kicking wasn’t as good as it can be.
Wynter – 6: Solid, and much improving right back.
Niate – 6: Looks dependable at the back overall.
Sendles-White – 6: In for Cameron, did okay. A few shaky moments and let off the hook early in the second half.
Davis – 7: Class on the ball, kept possession well and very sound defensively. Had a good game.
Kalala – 9: Constant threat. Two lovely finishes. Oozes class on the ball. Is he as good as people think he is? On today’s showing, he could be.
Lemonheigh-Evans – 7: Kept things ticking and has that extra gear we need in the centre of the park.
Hall – 7: Mopped things up nicely and worked well as CLE’s enforcer.
Andrews – 7: Did very well on the left of midfield. Great vision. Did try a silly long ball instead of keeping possession at 3-0 that lead to a nervy moment, but I’m being picky.
Reid – 7: Deserved a goal. Runs are a constant threat. Link up with Kalala and Janneh very good.
Janneh – 8: This lad looks a player! Took his goal with aplomb and his pace causes defences problems in every game I’ve seen him play.
Koszela – (N/A): Not on long enough for a full rating but didn’t look out of place.
Nabi – (N/A).
Essuman – (N/A)
Man of the Match:
Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala. Best game in a Torquay shirt. Beat his man every time he got the ball. First goal was a tremendous finish and took the second was as cool as you like.
Reid and Janneh look to be forming a formidable partnership at this level.
Reidy and Saikou leading the line, Jake and KK on either wing. Hall sat a bit deeper than CLE and let him get forward. We looked to hit channels at every opportunity, and it worked for 2 goals; defences seem terrified of our front line’s pace.
H&R weren’t too bad and will feel a little hard done by for not getting a goal. However, you always felt we had another gear to go into if we had to. It seems strange to be saying that about a Torquay side!
Daniel Lamport was a little inconsistent. Both sides will say he got some decisions wrong. United will feel that a high lunge on Kalala in the first half deserved a straight red card; as mentioned, H&R could have had a penalty. In general, he let the game flow okay. Not the worst I’ve seen this season, although that’s not particularly high praise.
The game was defined in the space of 2 minutes. Dickson was clean through and hit the post for H&R. United immediately went up the other end and doubled their lead. After that, you never felt that Torquay would let it slip.
Jamie Reid. Picking Reidy because I’ve always stood by him and it’s a joy to see him flourishing under GJ in this side. He must be averaging about 7/10 each week and you can’t argue with it. Always stretching defences, keeps the ball in tight situations and has added finishing to his game. How good would it be for a Reid-Janneh 1-2 at the top of the scoring charts at the end of the season? I’d take promotion first though!
Class away day with a brilliant following from the Gulls. Let’s get Plainmoor bouncing over the next few games and see what happens. This team is something to get excited about and I am loving every minute of it.
Right, I’m off to sing GJ’s version of Last Christmas.
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