TT MATCH VERDICT
Rachel Malloch – @RachelVillavox
While not quite a maiden voyage for season 2021/22, the Truro midweek home game watching the new signings blend in with the squad who remain from last season had given us all a chance to see Gary Johnson’s new boys after the away win at Poole Town, but this was our first chance to see the squad up against League 1 neighbours Plymouth Argyle. A decent crowd of almost 2,400 created plenty of noise particularly from our old adversaries housed in the Babbacombe Road end, a stand that has been a talking point over the last couple of seasons in its benefits for being used by the home crowd, and for the first time in those couple of seasons it was well populated by a vociferous green army, gleefully claiming there’s only one team in Devon, Adam Randell is one of their own and resurrecting the old ‘aaaaaaaaargh you’re……..’ chant aimed at Gulls keeper Mark Halstead at every goal kick. Still, when it comes to singing, quantity not quality it seems.
The game started brightly, Torquay having much of the ball without creating too much to bother Callum Burton in the Argyle goal. Armani Little wearing the captain’s armband looked busy and had an early snap shot that was well wide, while the familiar face of last season young Adam Randell found his curling free kick headed over the bar.
Former Argyle forward Klaidi Lolos was chasing and scurrying for every ball without any joy, winger Keelan O’Connell was constantly showing willing and throughout the game found himself with plenty of the ball, but so often his final ball was wanting or his attempt to take on his marker found the ball out for a throw or a Plymouth player charging off up field with the loose ball. A hard working if somewhat luckless afternoon for the young player.
Argyle player Camara was keeping the Torquay back-line busy, Mark Halstead had to be alert to a good Plymouth move orchestrated by that lad Randell that brought out a good save from the new Torquay keeper. Then another Argyle attack following a loose pass from Little saw Joe Lewis dash into action with a timely tackle and the danger was cleared. Away from play, his centre half colleague Ali Omar fell to the floor unchallenged, seemingly twisting his knee, and looked to be in some pain. Both teams took this as an opportunity for a drinks break but after some treatment, Omar was unable to continue and was replaced by Jake Andrews.
With Ali Omar off the pitch, Torquay suddenly looked vulnerable and moments later direct from a Torquay corner, Argyle countered and Niall Ennis neatly slotted the ball past Halstead. Then moments later, the impressive Camara tapped in a rebound following initial good work from Halstead after Ben Wynter had found himself out of position. 2 clear chances, 2 goals, both clinically taken.
So onto the second half with the introduction of Trialist A (15) replacing Lolos and Trialist C (17) replacing another steady performance from Trialist B (14). A lovely in-swinging cross from Jake Andrews found Trialist A (15} in space but his shot is high and wide and finds the Plainmoor swimming pool. Plymouth by now despite a coach load of changes still find plenty of possession and with so much clever, pacey movement off the ball, make Torquay look slightly pedestrian. The disappointing Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, having a subdued game, manages to wriggle his way past the defence only to see the ball safely gathered, then the busy O’Connell rounds his marker only to fire his shot straight at the keeper.
Another change for Torquay with the impressive Joe Lewis and a well-marshalled Danny Wright, who toiled with very little reward, make way for young academy lad Alex Moyse and Olaf Koszela. Immediately Moyse shows some delectable play, finding Ben Wynter who can only manage to send his shot wide. Torquay certainly had their fair share of corners, and with the game entering the last 15, a Armani Little floating corner finds the head of Trialist B [15) who can only direct his header high and wide.
A further corner, this time met by O’Connell, who attempts the spectacular but gets his legs tangled and his overhead kick falls flat and comes to nothing. Then from some good passing play, Argyle’s Ryan Hardie was given far too much room to turn in the box and slot the ball past Healstead to make it 3. With minutes remain the hard working Armani Little made way for Scott Piper, but with the final whistle looming Argyle still had a chance to make it 4, and were foiled by Mark Halstead.
A decidedly unfit looking referee blows for full time and a thousand or so Argyle fans leave Plainmoor brimming with smiles and bragging rights. There was no disguising the gulf in quality, fitness, movement and ability from a League 1 Plymouth squad, who are veritable veterans of pre-season football while Torquay mere infants who still have time to tune this squad of players, and one would hope with 2 or 3 further additions. Let’s hope the absence of Tom Lapslie, injured in the Truro game, isn’t for too long, Ali Omar tweaking his knee today and subsequently going off was merely precautionary and the return of the vital experience of Asa Hall isn’t too far away.