Photo courtesy of Jon Taffel.
TT MATCH VERDICT by Rob Dand
United held their lead at the top of the National League this evening, thanks to a second half comeback in Ruislip. After showing some early promise, with winger Ben Whitfield firing a shot over after just 30 seconds, Torquay were largely restricted to set pieces and long-range attempts – although there were plenty of those. It looked like the Gulls were going to regret not taking their chances, however, when a Wealdstone attack saw a saved effort bundled into the path of striker Danny Parish. His rising strike evaded the defender on the line and bulged the roof of the net. 1-0 to Wealdstone.
Half time was marked on the streaming service by what looked like a test of the emergency broadcast system followed by a painful Clockwork Orange-style looping rerun of the Wealdstone goal. The interlude saw a belter of a double substitution from Gulls boss Gary Johnson, who brought on supersubs Josh Umerah and Billy Waters for Adam Randell and Danny Wright. That changed the nature of the Torquay attack, and when Jake Andrews lofted the ball goalwards from a free-kick just inside his own half, it was the Westcountry Cavani, Billy Waters, who guided the ball home from close range, following a clever downwards header from Asa Hall. 1-1.
The Gulls weren’t done yet, though, and for the second time in successive games they were looking for the goal that would nab them all three points. Two minutes from time, it was once again Billy Waters who turned home a dangerous ball across the goalmouth from Conor Lemonheigh-Evans. 2-1 to the Gulls.
Shaun MacDonald – 7 – Didn’t have a lot to do but made a decent save from a bending shot in the first half and had to be alert to rush out and head the ball away from danger at one point. Good, quick, distribution if sometimes a little too excitable.
Ben Wynter – 6 – Sometimes looks to lack decisiveness under pressure, and playing in a back three doesn’t suit his adventurous tendencies. Looked to be targeted on a couple of occasions in the second half.
Sam Sherring – 7 – Could have left for MacDonald in the build up to their goal, could have cleared the ball into the car park – didn’t do either, unfortunately. Decent game apart from that.
Kyle Cameron – 7 – Solid at the back as always, and popped up in the penalty area to cause problems a couple of times.
Asa Hall – 8 – A quietly confident performance from the skipper. Rarely caught out of position and is quick to cover for Wynter on the occasions when he gets magnetically drawn to the opposition penalty area. Always a threat from the edge of the box, and headed down well for Waters’ first.
Adam Randell – 6 – Would guess the booking would have played a part in his substitution at half time, but hadn’t really made an impact on the game in a crowded midfield.
Jake Andrews – 7 – Played a great looping free kick in for the first goal, and released CLE with a fantastic pass in the build up the second. Those two moments alone get him a 7 from me. Didn’t do too much wrong elsewhere, popped up on the left a couple of times in the first half to cause problems.
Aaron Nemane – 7 – Seemed to be deployed centrally again, but drifted out wide from time to time. Quality with the ball at his feet and just needs to be consistent with his end product. Defended awkwardly but capably when asked to, as well.
Ben Whitfield – 8 – Tired in the second half but was a lively creative outlet for United’s attack, creating chances and finding one or two of his own as well.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans – 8 – Lovely ball across the goal for Waters’ second and a constant nuisance.
Danny Wright – 6 – Showed some early promise, linking up well with Whitfield after about 30 seconds. Sacrificed (in a metaphorical sense) at half time in order to change the shape of the team.
Billy Waters – 7 – Looks to be a bit of an Elliott Benyon figure. Two fine poacher’s goals to his name, and even had time to stray offside.
Josh Umerah – 7 – Didn’t get many opportunities to trouble the opposition net, but got involved in the build up and chased down well when off the ball.
Fraser Kerr – N/A
MOTM: Connor Lemonheigh-Evans
I’m going to give it to Connor for yet another driving, industrious performance, and an assist. Drew some clever fouls when we needed to slow the game down as well.
A strong team performance really, you can see from the ratings who I thought played well but Jake Andrews deserves a shoutout for his involvement in the build up to both goals, I particularly enjoyed the ball out wide for the second. The kind of pass I used to make all the time in my 20s – that’s how I remember it anyway, and none of you are going to contradict me.
I’d also like to give an honourable mention to the Wealdstone commentary team, who became oddly obsessed with the amount of Torquay corners, referred to ‘Connor Lemony Heavens’ at least twice, and spent the whole of time added on waiting for the fourth official to bring out the board he’d literally just held up and put away. Final honourable mention for the Wealdstone manager, who after the game explained without a hint of irony that his team was suffering from the same fixture congestion that Klopp and Guardiola have been bemoaning of late. Very enjoyable stuff.
You know when you see those memes going around about how the hmaun biran can raed any wrod as lnog as the fsirt and lsat lertets are the smae? That’s our midfield sometimes. I think we started with a 3-2-3-2 formation or perhaps a 3-2-4-1. Who the hell knows. We had a goalkeeper, a striker and a few players in between, that much I could deduce. Let’s call it fluid. A jazz midfield.
The switch to two strikers for the second half paid off, and Wealdstone didn’t really look like they were comfortable dealing with the different threats that Waters and Umerah posed. Good call, Gary. With the injuries that we have, it’s encouraging to see that there are still options on the bench that we can bring on to change the game. We had a few dark years at Plainmoor not so long ago where we might as well have had a selection of cardigans on the bench, so we’re going in the right direction.
Wealdstone were in a decent position at kick-off and have some good players among their ranks, so needed to be respected. They defended our 3 million corners quite comfortably and Dennon Lewis in particular looked a threat coming forward.
Gulls fans would have also recognised Michee Efete, who played 26 games in a spell Plainmoor during The Season We Try Not To Talk About Too Often.
There were very few decisions for the officials to make today. I missed the Randell yellow (I was genuinely scribbling down some test formations trying to work out what our midfield was doing), so I don’t know if that was fair or not but beyond that it was a well-contested but quiet game.
Has to be the half-time substitutions. I love a good double sub, and this one changed our attacking shape for the second half, eventually yielding two goals as well. We created a lot of chances in the first half but weren’t clinical enough, and although we were perhaps a little more measured in the second half we were able to exploit the gaps a bit more and not just shoot from range.
A very handy three points, and another win away from home. If we are going to be a success this year, we are going to need to have a Plan B, and the players on the bench to carry out that plan. Tonight, we had both, and that was the difference.
Next Up: Wrexham (h), 5th December
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