Just over a month since that day at Ashton Gate, Torquay made the trip along the south coast to Poole in the first pre-season friendly of the new campaign. With such a short turnaround for much of the squad to grapple with, how would the (relatively) new look Gulls side contend with Poole Town on what was a baking hot day?
The opening 45 minutes passed by and large without incident. New United goalkeeper Halstead wasn’t called into action a great deal and the centre back pairing of Slough and Omar looked comfortable against a spirited Poole attack, spurred on by about eight Poole ‘ultras’ behind the goal. We saw glimpses of Torquay’s attacking flair as the half wore on, notably from Lolos who danced past the home defence on a couple of occasions, but his eventual shots were too high and went over. 0-0 at the interval.
The second half began similar to the first, but things quickly changed. United got into a rhythm early on and started to get forward in numbers, with players beginning to stand out. Raking cross-field balls from Martin, who looked composed at left back, found one of the trialists (15) and then his replacement, new pro Scott Piper with ease. Much of the attacking threat was going down the right, but the final ball often eluded Lolos and Olaf who’d replaced Wright up front. These two were quickly forming an effective partnership though and sure enough both of them got among the goals.
The opener came from some nice play from the two forwards as Lolos was bearing down on goal but unselfishly set up Olaf who buried it with no hesitation. The second came soon after when an absolutely delicious ball through the middle of the pitch found Lolos who breezed past the Poole defenders, but then found himself one on one with the ‘keeper who was rushing out. No problem, just dribble around him and pass the ball into an empty net. Nicely done. A special shout out to Omar who sprinted the length of the pitch to leap into Lolos’s arms after the goal, it must take some serious strength to hold up a bloke as well-built as our new centre back!
Overall, it was your standard pre-season friendly where getting fitness levels up was more important than giving Poole a thumping. I liked the pairing of Olaf and Lolos in particular and hope they get the opportunity to have another go in the remaining games. A decent day out topped off with a stop for a drink and some tea at a pub overlooking the splendid Wiltshire countryside bathed in evening sunshine.
TUFC Starting XI: 1. Mark Halstead, 2. Ben Wynter, 4. Tom Lapslie, 5. Ali Omar, 9. Danny Wright, 16. Keelan O’Connell, 19. Klaidi Lolos, 21. Dean Moxey, 26. Louie Slough, 14. Trialist A, 15. Trialist B.
Substitutes: 23. Marcin Brzozowski (GK), 3. Dan Martin, 10. Armani Little, 18. Olaf Koszela, 20. Scott Piper, 22. Alex Moyse, 31. Joe Lewis.
THE NEW SIGNINGS
Halstead: Largely untroubled but was quick to react when he needed to. He’ll face much sterner tests.
Brzozowski: Had even less to do than Halstead, as the home side tired in the second half.
Omar: A giant of a man, looked solid enough at the back although his long balls forward were sometimes a little wayward.
Martin: Impressive debut, has a wand of a left foot and made switching the ball between the flanks look easy.
Lapslie: Some decent passing but not a huge amount to say. We’ll find out more about him as the opposition improves.
O’Connell: The winger can whip in a decent corner and cross.
Lolos: Skill and ball control in abundance, came into the game and got a deserved goal. Looking forward to seeing what he’s capable of against tougher opposition.