TT MATCH VERDICT
Matt Roberts – @MatthewVA438
Torquay served up a festive footballing feast for the crowd at Plainmoor and an audience across the globe watching the stream online, decisively exorcising the ghost of Christmas past from last year in a 6-1 demolition of West Country rivals Yeovil Town. Dean Moxey, Sam Sherring and Armani Little started their first league games since returning from injury and Gary Warren kept his place in the the centre of defence. Jake Andrews and Fraser Kerr dropped to the bench and Billy Waters was not in the squad.
From the word go United were clearly well up for the game and wasted no time going on the front foot, winning a corner in the first minute. The first goal came only a few minutes later after Little was foolishly fouled on the edge of the box. The resulting free kick curved round the wall and nestled right where the goalkeeper couldn’t reach it. Before Yeovil had time to regroup, they found themselves another goal behind, a characteristic Whitfield run down the left saw him waft the ball across goal where Danny Wright was ready and waiting, pouncing on the opportunity to stab the ball home from close range. A classic poacher’s finish.
The die was cast, and it wasn’t long before a third was added. A corner caused carnage in the Yeovil box with Sherring swinging his leg at the ball which hit a defender and bumbled over the line. So far, so perfect but an otherwise splendid afternoon (despite the awful weather) took a bit of a hit when Little pulled up with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. Lightning struck twice when Wright went down with a similar looking problem. Hopefully neither are as bad as they seemed.
Little’s replacement Josh Umerah showed real commitment when he refused to stop chasing a ball which the Yeovil defence and goalkeeper thought had gone out of play. Aaron Nemane, ever the tireless worker, took full advantage and met Umerah’s lofted ball, rounded a frozen Smith in goal and passed it straight into the net. Great teamwork and typical of the relentless style of play this season.
Yeovil came out after the break with purpose, forcing United onto the backfoot and grabbed a scrappy goal following a complete lapse of concentration at the back. Despite the setback the Gulls almost immediately regained a four goal lead. The superb Nemane intercepted the ball and drove his way through the Yeovil half, delivering an exquisite pass to Whitfield who in turn played it to Lemonheigh-Evans in the box. Somehow, he managed to jab the ball past Smith, who was once again beaten at his near post.
Anyone for a sixth? A rather petulant and unnecessary foul on Cameron resulted in Andrews swinging a free kick into the box which was met by the aforementioned Geordie who towered above all others, notching another goal for his increasingly impressive tally this season. That brought the goal scoring to a close. Six goals, all by different players and a thoroughly professional and dominant performance.
Shaun MacDonald: 7 – He didn’t have a huge amount to do and was characteristically quick off his line to gather the ball. Some slightly nervy moments though, including one where he parried the ball straight in front of a Yeovil player who somehow missed an absolute sitter from a few yards out.
Sam Sherring: 7 – Fairly solid deputising at right back on his first league game back after a short spell out with injury. Was credited with the third goal but it received more than its fair share of help from the leg of a Yeovil defender.
Kyle Cameron: 7 – A typically strong performance. Shows his commitment to the cause by sprinting back from corners to deal with counter attacks and got another goal to add to his tally for the season.
Gary Warren: 7 – His potential lack of pace proved not to be much of a problem and he was decent enough, completing a rare and important 90 minutes. Looked a threat from set pieces and shows the depth we have in defence with Wynter still to return.
Dean Moxey: 7 – First league game back since his injury and he slotted in well, looking fit and quickly rekindling the partnership down the left with Whitfield. Dean’s an assured presence in defence and provides valuable experience. Great to have him back.
Aaron Nemane: 10 – Man of the match, see below.
Adam Randell: 7 – Assumed the role of Hall with the latter serving the final match of his three match suspension. He was quietly effective in linking play and showed characteristic industriousness. Hope Plymouth don’t want him back any time soon.
Armani Little: 7 – Was really on it from the start and gave the Yeovil goalkeeper little chance from his free kick in the opening minutes. Just when you think it’s all going perfectly, he went down with what looked like a hamstring injury after 34 minutes. Hope it’s not as serious as it looked, as his sheer quality is obvious for all to see.
Ben Whitfield: 8 – A familiar story this season, give the ball to Whitfield on the left wing and he glides past defenders and pings the ball across goal causing havoc in the box. This was the story of the second goal when his pass found Wright in the box who made no mistake. Can be relied upon to constantly threaten down the wing.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans: 9 – Assisted one goal and scored another. He’s becoming the total package and showed today why he so valuable. Yeovil couldn’t handle his skill, control or pinpoint passing.
Danny Wright: 7 – Was giving the Yeovil defence a hard time and got his reward very quickly, arriving in the right place at the right time for the second goal. Worryingly went off five minutes after Little, and with what looked like the same sort of injury. Would have got another goal if he’d not been injured.
Josh Umerah: 7 – Good performance from Umerah, probably one his better games that I’ve seen. Hassled the Yeovil defence and held the ball up well. The highlight was keeping the ball in play for Nemane from a seemingly impossible position for his goal. Still gets very little protection from the officials which is a consistent irritation this season.
Jake Andrews: 7 – Worked hard when he came on an and showed his quality on set piece delivery, when his pinpoint free kick found Cameron’s head for the sixth and final goal.
Fraser Kerr: 7 – Came on for Moxey after 76 minutes and had relatively little to do as the game was well beyond doubt by this point. If we have options like Kerr and Andrews on the bench, we’re doing very well.
Do you agree with Matt? Rate the players here – TUFC PLAYER RATINGS
MAN OF THE MATCH: AARON NEMANE
Tough decision as there were some fantastic performances. Nemane though was unplayable, never giving up and chasing down balls you think are lost late into the game. When he plays like this, he is a nightmare for opposing players as his positioning is incredibly fluid. He drifts into the centre with ease and some of his passing is sublime, creating goals and getting one himself while the Yeovil defence was staring into space.
I would’ve given him man of the match if Nemane hadn’t been so brilliant. He’s fast becoming one of our most important players and has grown immeasurably since last season. He scores goals from difficult angles and is instrumental in playing others in on goal.
United lined up with a 4-4-1-1 with Lemonheigh-Evans in his customary role in the hole behind Wright who ploughed a lone furrow up front. This changed to a 4-4-2 when Umerah came on for Little but switched back to 4-4-1-1 after Wright departed. Torquay pressed high up the pitch and were quick to try and win back possession, harassing Yeovil right until the end. This allowed Yeovil to get in behind us a few times and on other days could have led to more goals being conceded. I’m happy to see us take the risk though, as our goal difference speaks for itself.
Yeovil are a side looking utterly bereft of confidence and ideas, a long way from the side that battered us last season. Whenever United went forward or looked like they would trouble the box, the opposition defence looked liable to collapse, and did on multiple occasions. They should have scored more than they did, missing at least two absolute sitters, but the difference between the two teams was stark.
With the number of cards given, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a dirty and ill-tempered contest. The referee though was far too happy to brandish the yellow card, when a simple talking to would’ve sufficed for incidents involving both teams.
Yeovil’s goal. Torquay had failed to start the second half with any sort of urgency and fell asleep at the back which allowed Yeovil to make it 4-1. Whilst a comeback was unlikely it could have been slightly uncomfortable if they had capitalised and got another. In the end though the goal (and a swift vocal reminder from Gary Johnson) spurred United into life and the fifth was soon added.
The tables have been thoroughly turned since this time last year, though neither side has changed much since. Despite the result I think Yeovil will be alright, they missed a couple of absolute sitters and hit the post or saw shots squeeze past the woodwork. On another day they could’ve scored at least three. This is a result of Johnson’s high press up the pitch which sometimes leaves gaps in behind. It reminded me of some of our National League South matches where by the time we conceded, we were already out of sight. Nine points clear of second place and a far superior goal difference to any other team, United looked every bit the title contenders that we know this team can be. The perfect late Christmas present from Gary and the lads.
COYY – Matt