Sam Jones – @samuellejones
Boxing Day football, you can’t beat it. The feeling of dragging yourself to a game with both a meat and booze induced hangover has become a Christmas tradition for millions round the country. You always hope your team delivers, to give you something to enjoy before going home and munching down on the previous day’s leftover, whether you like it or not. Fortunately for the bumper crowd of 3863 at Plainmoor, the Gulls delivered just that, as they overcame a dogged Truro City side in an enthralling game of football.
The Gulls started on the back foot as Truro looked the side more up for it. Both sides fashioned a couple of early half chances, but it was the Cornish side who took the lead first. Riley-Lowe beat Kalala too easily and swung the ball in. It went all the way through to former Gull Niall Thompson on the right. He dinked a lovely ball back in to Tyler Harvey, whose emphatic first-time volley left MacDonald with no chance.
This seemed to be the shot in the arms that the Gulls needed, as only ten minutes later they equalised. Some beautiful build up play sent Kalala free on the right. His shot clattered the bar and was only half cleared by the home side. The ball fell to Davis, who fed Lemonhaigh-Evans on the left. He took a couple of touches and curled a beauty into the far corner of the goal.
It only took five more minutes for the Gulls to take the lead. A beautiful run by Kalala, beating half the Truro team, finished with him trying to lay it off for Janneh. He was dispossessed, and it popped back to Kalvin who lashed it first time over the keeper and into the back of the net. Advantage Gulls.
Despite the fact there were already two contenders for goal of the season, the best was still to come. A long ball over the top from MacDonald was cushioned into the path of Reidy by Lemonhaigh-Evans. He was dispossessed by a strong challenge and the ball found its way to Asa Hall who took it first time with his left. The ball curled over the keeper and into the far corner. Cue limbs everywhere by the Plainmoor faithful. The half fizzled out and Torquay went into the break with a 3-1 lead.
It only took four minutes of the second half for The Yellows to add another. Janneh received the ball on the edge of the box, shimmied effortlessly past two Truro defenders and planted a shot in the bottom left corner leaving Harvey Allen in goal with no chance. It was a finish that oozed confidence from one of the most natural finishers we’ve had at the club for a while (since Yeoman, apparently).
The rest of the half was a non-event. The Gulls took their foot off the gas but still could’ve scored a few more. Reidy, Wynter, Koszela and Niate should all have done better when well placed, however none of them could find that elusive fifth goal (when was the last time we could say that?!?!). Keats did pull one back for the Cornish side with 6 minutes to go as a bit of overplaying on the left from Davis and Cameron got them in some trouble. Harvey won the ball, who drove into the box and whipped a delicious cross for Keats to tap in at the far post.
Not much happened in the last five minutes and the Gulls finished the game 4-2 winners. It was a great performance from the Gulls who stay top of the National League South for another week.
Shaun MacDonald – 7: Not much to do and could do nothing about either goal. Distribution is improving too and is becoming a very solid keeper.
Ben Wynter – 7.5: Solid and unspectacular again. Excellent defensively and a threat going forward. Our most improved player this season.
Kyle Cameron – 8: Solid as ever. The Northern Lion was a rock at the back and refused to be bullied by Truro forward Harvey. Loses half a mark for faffing about for the away side’s second.
Jean Yves Koue-Niate – 8.5: Monstrous at the back again. Won everything in the air and on the ground.
Liam Davis – 8.5: Solid enough at the back and superb going forward. What a player he is.
Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala – 8: Brilliant and infuriating in equal measure. Has loads of ability, and scored a great goal, but needs to be more decisive.
Connor Lemonhaigh-Evans – 9.5: Rolls Royce of a player. More on him later.
Asa Hall – 9: Our captain. Commanding performance in the centre of the park.
Jake Andrews – 7.5: Tidy on the ball, but looked a bit lost on the left. Will have better games.
Saikou Janneh – 8.5: Constant menace to Truro’s defence. Seems to be able to score however he wants to.
Jamie Reid – 8: Made lots of dangerous runs and held the ball up nicely. Should have had a goal or two himself.
Jamie Sendles-White – 7.5: Came on for Andrews in midfield and shored up the middle of the park. Great passing range too.
Olaf Koszela – 7: Another outing for the 16-year-old, who did not look out of his depth. Could be a star.
Man of the Match:
Connor Lemonhaigh-Evans must be the best player in the division. The Welsh U23 international just oozes class with everything he does. His passing was superb today, and his work rate was even better. Scored a peach of a goal as well to equalise for the Gulls. Too soon to call him the new Eunan O’Kane?
It’s great to see Asa Hall back in the side. Despite a slow start to life as a Gull, he is another excelling under Johnson. Commands the team brilliantly, properly enforces the middle of the park and probably scored the goal of the season.
Koue-Niate is a great defender, maybe #Owersrecruitment wasn’t that bad? Only joking, it really was. He wins everything in the air, is outstanding on the ground and is the perfect partner for Cameron. One of the first names on the team sheet now, especially as away teams can’t say his name.
Johnson started with the same line up as the win at Hampton and Richmond Borough, the only exception being Cameron in for Sendles-White. Andrews started on the left of midfield, with Kalala on the right and the terrifying two of Janneh and Reidy up front. Torquay sat back and looked to hit Truro on the break using the pace of Kalala, Reid and Janneh. This worked wonders as the skill of the midfield three meant plenty of service for our attack. The first two goals came on the counter, as Truro couldn’t deal with our pace and movement. It’s a tactic that is proving devastating for the Gulls this season and is providing plenty of entertainment.
Leigh Robinson’s side played much better than their lowly league position would suggest. For the first 25 minutes they were the better side, full of energy and winning everything. The midfield of Keats and Allen buzzed around the pitch, picking up every loose ball and well supported by Rooney and Richards out wide. The combination of Harvey and Lewington up front were a real handful and used their physicality and pace well at times. They collapsed when we got the first, but if they play like that again this season, they’ll be fine.
Today’s referee was about par for the course. Inconsistent with some of his calls but didn’t affect the result. Missed a clear penalty for Torquay in the second half after Janneh was unceremoniously shoved over, but apart from that had no big decisions to make. Seen worse performances than his today.
Torquay were not at the races for the first 25 minutes, and Truro took full advantage. However, a stunning finish by Lemonhaigh-Evans changed that and the Gulls never looked back. After Kalala raced through and smacked the crossbar with a thunderous effort, which we all thought was in, the ball was not cleared properly by Truro. It fell to Davis, who fed the man with the second longest name in the squad. He twisted and turned Truro silly, then curled the ball beautifully past Allen in the away goal. Two more goals in the next 10 minutes followed for the Gulls, but it was the beauty by the Welshman that set up the win.
Back in September if you had told me that Ben Wynter would be our first choice right back by Christmas, I would have laughed at you. The man looked shot of confidence and it showed on the pitch. He simply didn’t look like he was enjoying his football. Fast forward 3 months and he looks a completely different player. He’s become incredibly solid at the back, making countless tackles and interceptions, and is a real threat going forward. His end product needs work, but he’s getting in the right positions and overall making the right decisions. All he needed is an injection of confidence, and he’s enjoying his football again. The Gary Johnson effect.
After being top of the tree on Christmas, the Gulls really needed to keep the good form up if they want to win promotion back to the promised land. They certainly did that today! Three goals in 10 first half minutes blew Truro away, who couldn’t cope with our pace. It wasn’t perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but 3 points is 3 points and Gary Johnson’s Yellow Army have now won seven games in a row. We’re playing outstanding football, are scoring goals for fun (53 in 19 games) and are top of the League. What’s not to love?
The squad isn’t perfect, far from it. Our bench is painfully short of options and our back up striker is a 16-year-old Youth Product (no offence Olaf). We only have one fit winger, no back up midfielders and no obvious plan b. We may be top, but Woking keep winning and are only two points behind us with two games in hand. We need to keep winning, and hope that Woking’s FA Cup tie against Watford distracts them enough to forget about the League. With Billericay self-imploding (what a shame), it’s looking like it’s going to be a two-horse race between us and the Cards. Saying that, we have the best squad in the League, the best manager in the league and by far and away, the best fanbase in the league. I believe we can win it this season, so please keep making us dream boys.
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