Danny Burnell – @dannyburnell92
With 2021 coming to a close, I take a look at my top 5 matches of the calendar year, starting with……
5 – GULLS 5-0 Wealdstone (2nd October)
United provided the Yellow Army with a hugely impressive performance back in October. With lacklustre performances and a slow start to the season, which saw then pick up 8 points from their opening 8 matches, it was important for Torquay to grab the three points as an expectant Plainmoor crowd awaited.
Stones should have been 1 up when a free header went whistling wide from just 6 yards out, but from then on the Gulls grabbed the game by the scruff. In wet and windy conditions, Holman went close with a effort which struck the post, and then moments later, good work from midfielder Tom Lapslie made the first goal. The former Colchester man won the ball high up, which eventually broke to Little, who’s delicious cross found the on-rushing midfielder to nod home his second goal in as many matches.
Dan Holman’s sharp turn and finish 6 minutes later gave the Gulls a 2 goal cushion and put them on course for a second successive home victory. Further high pressing from the Gulls was rewarded as goal number 3 arrived on the half hour. Moxey’s deflected cross found Little at the back post who’s clever header beat Stone’s keeper George Wickens once again.
It should have been 4 when United were awarded a penalty for a foul on Holman. The resulting spot kick was comprehensively nestled into the back row of the Woollens away terrace. But when #4 did arrive, it was worth the wait. Joe Lewis duly obliging with never mind a goal of the season, but goal of the century contender, to put United 4-0 up at half time for the second time this season.
Holman completed the rout with his brace after a misplaced pass from the keeper. His neat finish made it 5 for United in their biggest win of the calendar year.
4 – Wrexham 0-1 GULLS (5th April)
For sheer importance, grit and determination this makes the #4 slot. After a tricky couple of months, Torquay re-discovered their form heading into this clash in North Wales. Wright’s late goal a few days earlier on Good Friday over Woking made sure it was 3 wins from 4 approaching this six-pointer.
The Gulls had dropped to 3rd, six and eight points off Hartlepool & Sutton respectively. With games in hand over the former, it was a real chance to assert some pressure on the top 2. Wrexham themselves occupied the last play-off spot as they vied for promotion to the FL.
Chances were few and far between as both defences were on top. A stalemate was looking the only option as the clock ticked over 90. But in true Gary time style United made the breakthrough when Joe Lewis’s header wasn’t dealt with. Sam Sherring was on hand to lash home from 10 yards out to send the Yellow Army, from the comfort of their own homes, into raptures and secure a fantastic 3 points.
3 – Sutton Utd 0-1 GULLS (13th April)
The Gulls headed to London on this Tuesday night as the form team. 5 wins from their last 6 matches put them right back in the mix, and it was just 8 days ago they were 8 points behind their opponents. Now they had an opportunity to draw level on points with a win.
Sutton were forming a ‘draw specialist’ tag as they drew 4 of their last 5 entering the match, and the winner of this game knew it would give them a massive physiological boost, as they approached the last month of the season.
United took the game to the hosts and were unlucky not to go in front as Lemonheigh-Evan’s shot was well saved. The chances kept arriving and it was perhaps Adam Randell who had the best one as his snap shot from close range was denied. The Gulls were pressing and weren’t content with the point. And so it proved. Adam Randell with a fantastic left foot cross found captain Asa Hall who’s scooping header beat Bouzanis in the Sutton goal to secure the most vital 3 points of the season, and condemn their opponents to the first defeat in 15.
2 – Chesterfield 0-2 GULLS (3rd May)
With United back on top of the pile, they once again faced a tricky opponent as they headed to Derbyshire. Chesterfield were occupying 7th place and needed a win to keep their promotion hopes alive.
It took just 11 minutes for United to break the deadlock. They looked to have missed the opportunity as a misplaced free kick went wayward, but the chance was kept alive as the ball broke to Andrews. Jake’s marvellous eye-of-the-needle pass found Connor, who empathically finished on his left foot to give the travelling side the lead.
The Spireites pressed for the equaliser and it was the United stopper Covolan who was to be thanked the lead was intact. Striker Kairo Mitchell saw his header saved brilliantly by the Brazilian’s feet and United needed to be strong. The Gulls were under the cosh for large periods of the second half and should have been pegged back, but for the sheer brilliance of Dean Moxey. His goal-line clearance was superb, before Chesterfield missed another chance from close range.
The Yellows needed a get out, and that’s exactly what they got. A rare attack in the home side’s half saw the ball drop to Billy Waters who rifled the shot past Smith to once again grab a massive 3 points, and wild celebrations, from management and players alike. Oh, and Boden enjoyed it!
1 – GULLS 4-2 Notts County (12th June)
Absolutely no doubt which match tops the charts for 2021. Sometimes with the big occasions and big matches, they will often flatter to deceive. Well, I can assure you this match didn’t.
With home fans back in and the summer sun in full shine mode, it was an occasion of absolute hysteria inside Plainmoor which 1700 lucky souls had the pleasure of being apart of. In terms of atmosphere, the Yellow Army made the sound of 5x the actual crowd, and utilised the 12th man to its absolute maximum. The players entered the pitch knowing a play off final was up for grabs, and the memo certainly reached the home side as they started in imperious fashion.
A Joe Lewis cross found the head of veteran Danny Wright who gave the Gulls the lead after just 35 seconds. A response to that atmosphere was needed, a response was well and truly supplied! Evans went close with a header moments later as United smelt blood in this ever changing game. But it was the Magpies who got the second goal as Kelly-Evans cross was diverted goalward by the ever-threatening Ruben Rodrigues. 1-1 at HT it remained.
Quick starts aplenty, and the second half was just 3 minutes old when Danny Wright doubled his tally. Superb work from Adam Randell saw him carry the ball into a crossing position were his pass found the big man with devastating affect. United were leading, Plainmoor was rocking! The lead lasted just 3 minutes however when a County corner wasn’t cleared, and the ball found left-back Adam Chicksen who lashed home into the roof of the net. If the neutrals wanted a game, they had one! Both sides had chances but 2-2 is how it finished as ET loomed.
County forward Kyle Wooton had a glorious chance to put the away side ahead in the first 15 minutes of extra time, but thankfully for the Gulls, his shot was just over. Down at the other end, CLE was causing problems and his battling endeavour earned United a corner. With one arm raised from Andrews, his cross was met superbly by the always impressive Captain who’s salmon-like leap ensured the ball glanced home, to put the Gulls in front for the third and final time. Moments later, a chance to seal their passage to Ashton Gate came when CLE was fouled by defender Mark Ellis. With Asa on the pitch, and Wright on a hat-trick, few eyebrows may have been raised when Moxey stepped up. But those fears turned to jubilation as his penalty was tucked away to the delight of the 1700 Plainmoor crowd! 4-2 it stayed as United were one step away from a return to the FL.
COYY – Danny
HAPPY CHRISTMAS FROM ALL AT TORQUAYTALK!
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