Rachel Malloch – @RachelVillavox
Any concerns about a New Year’s day hangover were reassuringly dispelled by a Jamie Reid brace – making it 18 goals for the promotion push cause this season from the in-form forward – and a sweet strike from the lively Kalvin Kalala, as Torquay United took 6 points off Truro City over the festive fixtures and it’s now 9 league wins in a row for Gary Johnson’s resurgent side.
Much like the corresponding home game, a slightly sluggish opening start from Torquay saw Truro take the lead, after Liam Davis lost his player, an unmarked Lewington was there to head home at the far post. But this is a Gary Johnson team, typically dogged and attacking in style, and on the 20 minutes mark Reid equalised from tidy build up play and a well struck shot outside the box.
The game saw plenty of attacking play from Torquay with occasional counter moves from Truro that Cameron and his well marshalled defence dealt with well, with good efforts from the busy forward Tyler Harvey and Lewington that goalkeeper Shaun MacDonald swept up with ease. The return of Connor Lemonheigh-Evans in midfield was a welcome sight and on 30 minutes a long range shot had the Plainmoor crowd cooing as it whistled inches past the post. Some lovely interchanging play between Saikou Janneh and Reid was broken down by the Truro defence and Janneh again beat his marker only to be hauled down which resulted in the Truro player going into the referee’s book. Truro full back Niall Thompson was finding a lot of space on the wing and looked a danger and the half time whistle saw the scores even.
The second half sees unchanged teams and Torquay attacking the empty Plainmoor away end. A snapshot header from Nick Hurst is gathered by MacDonald and there are half chances from both teams notably Jake Andrews and the energetic Kalala causing the defence no end of problems with his foraging runs and some sublime footwork. On the 60th minute a rash challange on Liam Davis has the crowd incensed and results in a card for the Truro defender. The yellow cards are flashing like the London Eye on New Year’s Eve now, and Gilchrist goes into the book for a heavy challenge.
The first sub of the day sees Gilchrist replaced by Dan Rooney on the 70th minute. A lofted ball into the box saw Truro bundle keeper MacDonald over the goal line but the referee deems it a foul. The days of shoulder barges are a long time legal play as much as the Truro players protested to the referee. Frustration set in with the 2,800 crowd and Gary Johnson makes his first sub of the day, Ruairi Keating on for Jake Andrews. A sublime through ball from Kalala sees Reid unlucky with a sharp angled shot that blazes over the bar. Torquay at this stage are toiling away against a stubborn, strong Truro. The break through finally comes for Torquay, a Kalala cross, a neat touch from Janneh and Reid nonchalantly stroking the ball goalwards on the edge of the area to give Torquay the lead.
The influential Thompson for Truro crudely pulls back Kalala and having already been booked, is given his marching orders with 15 minutes remaining. Truro then make a double substitution in an attempt to claim something from this game. A lovely build up move involving 4 Torquay players finds Reid knocking the ball in the path of Keating and with the goal at his disposal, the centre forward somehow manages to fire his shot against the crossbar, and with this afternoon’s half-time crossbar challenge absent, any contender would have been proud of that! 5 minutes to go, another lovely build up sees the skilful Kalala sweep a shot in from 10 yards out having wriggled his way through the Truro defence. A
late substitution seems Ryan Dickson come on for the impressive Liam Davis. A goal mouth scramble from a corner for Torquay and Keating shooting straight at the Truro keeper and then immediately a Rooney shot is well held by MacDonald. Minutes later, an effort by Rooney beats MacDonald but is ruled offside. The referee blows for full-time and a combative game comes to a close and a rewarding result that keeps Torquay United at the top of the National League South table.
MacDonald 7 – A steady unfazed performance by the reliable keeper.
Wynter 6 – Looking more confident going forward, some lapses defensively but a relatively comfortable game.
Davis 7 – Some good attacking wing play and dealt with the strength of Truro forwards well.
Cameron 7 – A competent performance.
Sendles-White 7 – Covered for the injured Niate very well.
Hall 7 – Won the midfield battle and equal to the physical approach, held the ball up well and as ever, a neat and tidy performance.
Janneh 7 – Didn’t make the score sheet but always a threat and caused problems for the Truro back four.
Lemonheigh-Evans 7 – Dealt with the physicality of the Truro midfield well.
Andrews 7 – Along with Lemon-heigh Evans, kept the middle motoring.
Reid 8 – 2 goals at vital points of the game, his industry and fitness is a credit to the player he is this season and always a thorn in the Truro defence’s side. MOTM.
Kalala 7.5 – A lovely struck goal and always available and busy, some beautiful footwork and while occasionally his touch deserted him, he is still a joy to watch. Very nearly MOTM.
Keating 5 and Dickson N/A – Ruairi will have 3am cold sweats and flash backs for his second half miss but he is such a hard working player and pulls the midfield and defence wide making those spaces. Dickson came on late and so not much chance to make an impact.
Man of the Match: Jamie Reid
Scored 2 lovely goals, the all important equaliser and the 2nd goal to give the breathing space we all needed. His runs off the ball, the deft knock-ons and touches and all round contribution that his game brings is always valuable but today, it was both pivotal and vital.
A moment in the match when Kalvin Kalala ran through the Truro midfield and defence with deft touches, the ease of being a 2 footed player with pace and very nearly ending his solo run with a goal. He might occasionally show erratic finishing but when he’s on song in a game, he is a joy to watch.
Attack, soak up the counters, attack! Even at 3-1 against 10 men and the game looking safe, this team still go in search of another goal. It is a wonderful thing.
Truro City are a strong side, resorting to a physical approach more so in the 2nd half, but they have some good players and a decent forward line. The coaching set up are doing a very good job with this squad and at 1-1 it really was that old cliché of the game going either way.
Inconsistent and frustrating. It seems to be a common trait in NLS officialdom. He got a few calls right but too often blowing for very minor incidents, but all in all, he wasn’t too bad and a no-nonsense approach to some of the more direct Truro tactics. 6/10.
The 2nd goal from Reid. At that stage the players, the manager and the 2,800 Torquay supporters were getting frustrated and in danger of being overwhelmed by the physical stuff Truro were imparting. A collective sigh of relief when we took the lead and at that point, felt that the game was ours.
Player Spotlight: Ben Wynter
A young full back who has come into his own in recent games and while I may have been ultra critical of him in the Christmas fixtures, he is looking more confident and assured as the games go on. I feel he is gaining confidence in this defensive unit and along with Liam Davis, we have good attack minded full backs.
The confidence that is imbuing Torquay United is thanks to a style of football that is exciting, pacey and very pleasing to watch. Despite both the Gloucester game and today not being up there with the standard that Gary Johnson has set and the objective, the Torquay directive for promotion rests on the fast-moving attacks and steady reliance on a back four that stealthily has improved game upon game. I feared we would feel Niate’s absence today but Sendles-White was an admirable cover for the big centre half. Today was a big test and with Woking continuing their rich vein of form, it was vital that we started the New Year with a win to keep the momentum. 9 wins on the bounce. and the Gulls go marching on, on, on!
View from the Ed:
I expected a difficult afternoon at Plainmoor and so it proved. Truro City were no pushovers and despite only having a pitiful 52 fans to cheer them on in Bristow’s, gave us a proper test of our new-found character. It was a test that we passed..just about – with Jamie Reid scoring a sweet second that seemed totally beyond him just over 4 months ago and then Kalvin nonchalantly wrapping up the 3 points. The White Tigers fans who did bother to turn up felt hard done-by with the ‘Mac over the line or not?’ incident, but overall we just had too much for them, even with the midfield and attack lacking the usual thrust and precision (with Andrews struggling on the wing and Janneh having a very frustrating game upfront). I just hope City are playing back down in Cornwall soon, rather than muddying up our pitch – surely that would be best for all concerned? Anyway job done – wins on the board, top of the league, Reidy and GJ serenading the Pop – what’s not to like?! Dom
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Slough Town – 5th January @ Plainmoor