TT MATCH VERDICT
Chris Wade – @ChrisWa29068639
A frustrating four days culminated in a 1-0 home defeat to Dagenham and Redbridge at a blustery Plainmoor on Tuesday evening in a game where the injuries finally caught up with us – we could still be playing at the time of reading and still not have scored. United made two changes to the starting eleven from Saturday’s 0-0 draw at King’s Lynn. Matt Buse came into right back to replace the injured Sam Sherring and Garry Warren replaced the ridiculously (sorry) suspended Asa Hall. In a reshuffle, Warren joined Fraser Kerr at centre back, Kyle Cameron switched to left back and Jake Andrews moved into central midfield alongside Adam Randell. It was brilliant to see Armani Little back amongst the substitutes along with academy prospect Owen Price.
It was a bright start to the game as both sides tried to move the ball around the pitch. In the 13th minute following a scramble in the Dagenham box, the resultant Jake Andrew’s corner was headed against the crossbar and over by Gary Warren. Dagenham took the lead from the ensuing goal kick, as the ball dropped on the right flank and Ben Whitfield and Kyle Cameron couldn’t stop Myles Weston cutting in onto his stronger left foot and delivering a wicked ball into the United box. Ex Gulls loanee Paul McCallum got in between Warren and Kerr and nodded the ball beyond Shaun MacDonald and into the bottom right corner. It was a shock to the United system.
United nearly responded straight away, as a delicious left-wing cross from Randell was inches away from finding Danny Wright sliding in at the back post. But, as we pushed for an equaliser, Dagenham should have gone two up. Hesitation in the back line enabled McCallum to nick the ball, round MacDonald but inexplicably thud the ball against the post with the goal at his mercy. It was a huge let off.
The game looked to have swung Torquay’s way in the 40th minute when Dagenham were reduced to ten men. Adam Randell challenged for the ball in the air on half way, and Mitch Brundle jumped with his forearm and crashed into Randell. After several minutes receiving treatment with the referee standing over him, red card in-hand, he was dismissed.
Gary Johnson didn’t wait to make a change. The hesitant Matt Buse was replaced by Billy Waters at half time, with Randell moved to right back. What followed was a very good second half performance that somehow did not produce a goal. Scoring early was going to be the key to winning, and Waters should have scored within three minutes when he was played in after some delightful play from Aaron Nemane only to drive his shot against goalkeeper Elliot Justham’s legs.
United came flooding forward time after time. Wright had several aerial opportunities only to be denied by Justham or a defender, Whitfield marauded down the left wing, delivering several crosses that couldn’t find a yellow shirt, and Randell got forward at every opportunity. On 67 minutes, Armani Little was introduced and immediately showed all United fans what we have missed from him. He sprayed the ball around, finding his man at every turn and delivered some gorgeous crosses into the box.
When Little’s corner was headed against the right post by Cameron with ten minutes to go, it summed the night up. Still United came, with Whitfield and Andrews going close towards the end, but it wasn’t to be. A final Waters header sailed over during five minutes of stoppage time.
The final whistle was met with screams from the Dagenham bench as Torquay’s unbeaten home record was over.
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MAN OF THE MATCH: Adam Randell
Adam Randell – Tough night to pick a man of the match as everybody gave everything. But Randell is just class. His touch, vision and combative edge are a delight to watch, and didn’t even look out of place at right back in the second half. Delivered some wonderful crosses.
Aaron Nemane and Ben Whitfield – They are just so lively in every game. Their fitness is unbelievable and they never give up. What they are offering to our team in invaluable.
With the players available, it was all we could do. Buse looked out of sorts and was rightly replaced, but we were so dominant in the second half, we had our back man half way inside Dagenham’s half!
Dagenham were combative and worked hard. They pressed the space in midfield well as had King’s Lynn on Saturday and limited the space for our ball players to influence the game. They had one moment of quality and their big money striker delivered. They then held on for dear life in the second half with ten men, but credit to them as they got their body in the way of everything.
Scott Tallis had a solid night and the red card was clear, and nobody complained. He tried to let the game flow, although he gave a lot of cheap free kicks to Dagenham in the second half.
The Dagenham goal, as it was the only one. Had we been able to pull the game around, it would have been the red card.
A disappointing night that kind of feels may have been coming with all of our injuries. But it was by no means a poor performance. It was good to see that we didn’t just hoof it in search of a goal. We stayed true to what we do and played some nice football and tried to play through Dagenham. It just wasn’t to be.