Sam Swann – @SamSwanny99
Torquay United recorded a much-needed win against Woking. Goals from Hall, Reid, Whitfield and Keating sealed a convincing 4-1 victory.
Covolan replaced the injured MacDonald. Our backline consisted of Lewis, Cundy, Niate and Cameron. Hall and Lemonheigh-Evans made up the central midfield, Whitfield and Nemane on the wings with Keating and Reid upfront.
From the first whistle, Torquay were up for it. Keating’s early chance was a big opportunity. A free header at the back post was nodded over. Minutes later, Woking were inches away from the first goal. Covolan was rooted to his line allowing a free header. Nemane did well to clear it off the line. Five minutes later, Covolan came running off his line for a long free kick. He was easily beaten in the air and Woking scored from close range.
Torquay responded well and equalised in the 25th minute. Nemane’s pass at the 2nd attempt found Hall. Asa’s driven shot took a deflection to help it into the back of the net. Shortly after, naive defending from Cundy allowed Woking in behind, but luckily the shot flashed wide with a fingertip from Covolan.
Thankfully, the goal got in the heads of the Woking players and staff which led to a string of nasty fouls and yellow cards. The game was hotting up before Ben Whitfield cut inside, had a shot blocked, which was followed up by an attempt from Keating and finally Reid took command to put Torquay 2-1 up.
The second half started off in fiery fashion. The Gulls stood firm against Woking’s overall gameplan of physically intimidating our players (kicking them) and scoring from set-pieces. Another disgraceful tackle resulted in a second yellow for Godfrey Poku; as he caught Whitfield late resulting in treatment for both players. Poku rose only for a red to be waved in his face and a predictably joyful ‘cheerio cheerio cheerio’ chant from the Yellow Army.
The fight of the players was evident in this match. Hall made way for Andrews who was involved in a fantastic Torquay move. Reid’s deflected ball found Whitfield at the back post to finish for 3-1. The very least Whitfield deserved. Yes our goals were deflections, but at last, we were asking questions of the opposition again. The returning fitness and confidence of the Torquay players was enjoyable to see.
A crucial save by Covolan after lacklustre defending kept the score at 3-1. Woking had a couple of half chances in the 2nd half; however, their only threat was from our vulnerability from set-pieces. Lewington looked useful when he was introduced and James came on at a later stage. As the game came to a close Keating showed great composure to finish the game off and place a cherry on the top of a very sweet afternoon at Plainmoor.
Lucas Covolan 5 – After being stuck to his line from corners, he came rushing out for a ball which was never his. His weak attempt of a punch led to Woking’s opener. To his credit he did make a couple of decent saves as the game went on.
Joe Lewis 7 – A class act for me today. He looked calm on the ball and produced some excellent tackles.
Robbie Cundy 5 – He has baffled me. I was very impressed at the start of his spell. However in the last month, he seems to believe he can play with ‘an economy of effort’. Unfortunately he cannot read the game as well as defenders of higher standards, meaning he is often caught out of position. Still a weak link for us today.
Jean Niate 6 – A couple of mis-kicks but was overall quite solid. If I am honest, there weren’t many questions asked of him.
Kyle Cameron 7 – Played out of position again; however, he was solid overall. Similar to Niate in many ways without the mis-kicks!
Asa Hall 7 – It is great to see him back in position and close to full fitness. He won the midfield battle and scored a crucial, albeit deflected equaliser.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans 7 – Grew into the game. Was nice to see him in midfield with Hall again. Fantastic work-rate all game. Happy to see him getting back to fitness.
Aaron Nemane 7 – Inconsistent, however, I was impressed. It is tough to join and get up to sharpness mid-season. He had a couple of decent runs. I feel with an improvement in decision-making we will have a decent player on his hands.
Ben Whitfield 9 – MOTM – See below.
Ruari Keating 8 – Great work-rate and after squandering a few chances he scored a much-deserved goal.
Jamie Reid 9 – 1 goal, 2 assists from the main man. He linked up well with Keating and always looked a threat.
Jake Andrews – 7: Was involved in the 3rd goal and looked at ease in midfield.
Jared Lewington – 6 : Looked lively when he came on and was denied by a good save from the Woking keeper.
Lloyd James – 6 : Came on and produced a couple of decent tackles.
Man of the Match: Ben Whitfield
A fantastic performance again, his work-rate and skills were sublime. He was heavily involved in the 2nd goal and finished off the 3rd. His overall performance meant he just beats Reidy to my man of the match award.
A decent selection from Johnson. We went back to basics with a 4-4-2. Hall and Evans won the midfield battle meaning we could get away with playing two strikers in Keating and Reidy. Woking knew our weaknesses from set-pieces but didn’t trouble us elsewhere.
Was expecting a lot more from Woking. The only time they threatened us was from free kicks and corners. I take it as a compliment that their game-plan appeared to revolve around fouling our players all game. Clearly our 7 game losing run had scared them into this tactic!
It was an eventful game for the officials and the build-up to our 2nd and 3rd goals were both judged on-side, when you were half-expecting the flag to go up. Difficult to judge from the stands. Poku (who constantly moaned at the referee throughout his time on the pitch) deserved his second yellow, whilst Jake Andrews was lucky to avoid a red later on in a 50-50 challenge.
The 3rd goal, which ended Woking’s mini spell of pressure and all but confirmed 3 points would be staying at Plainmoor for a change!
Overall it was a good performance from the boys. Hopefully, we can sign a keeper, and some defenders in January. One win does not change the fact we need big improvement. We need to show this fight and mentality against every team from now on, not just our big rivals.
View from the Editor:
Now this is what Christmas footie should be like. After a tragic Boxing Day at Huish Park that had us all doubting our sanity, here was a Gulls performance to be proud of. Puffing chests out, attacking with gusto, refusing to buckle against a tough Woking side and also getting some lady luck for a change (working harder and a change of fortune so often go hand in hand don’t they!). Is this the start of a promotion charge in 2020? Who knows, but we have stopped the rut and can approach Yeovil (h) with some confidence…for now that is enough. GET IN THERE! DOM
Yeovil (H) – 1st January 2020, 3pm Kick Off