TT MATCH VERDICT
Danny Burnell – @dannyburnell92
YEOVIL TOWN 1-2 TORQUAY UNITED
Alexa, what is the definition of grit, determination and uncontrollable passion……….. ‘This is what I’ve found, Torquay United Football Club were formed……..’. You get the drift. This club does things to you, things that football clubs shouldn’t. Why anyone would want to be a Man City fan with the expectation of winning so….. well, expected is beyond me. Torquay United FC put you through the rafters, year after year, but do I care, do the 1,034 Gulls fans at Huish Park care, do the Plainmoor regulars care, do the exiles care, no of course not. This is TUFC and I for one bloody love them.
The Gulls produced yet another ‘Gary Time’ special to come from behind to beat Wes Country rivals Yeovil at Huish Park. Johnson Snr was forced into 3 changes, as the suspended Little and injured Lapslie, were replaced by the isolation-free Joe Felix and Sinclair Armstrong. Sparkes was out and whether he returns remains to be seen. Felix slotted into a midfield 2 with captain Hall, whilst Sinclair had to settle for a place on the wooden stuff.
It was deja vu (Barnet away) as the team coach made a unfashionably late 2.15 arrival in Somerset. Not ideal by any stretch, it certainly didn’t aid us at Barnet, and it had me and my Dad utter the very same 4 words to each other, ‘this doesn’t bode well’. It rarely does. A late arrival, a rushed warm-up, all the ingredients of a first half meltdown.
As it goes, my fears were quickly quelled as the Glovers and the Gulls played out a fairly uneventful first half. A half in which neither side threatened much. I was left with a sense of, well, this report won’t be very long, I’ll have it up by 5 past 7. Chances were few and far between, Yeovil had some half chances, their best being a deflected shot which MacDonald did superbly well to save with his feet. The adjustment of those limbs was paramount to ensure the game remained goalless. Yeovil semi-threatened with some good set piece deliveries, but United rose to the challenge, and comfortably dealt with the aerial threat. At the other end, the Gulls seemed shot shy. Lolos had chances to shoot, as did Wright and Evans, but reluctance set in, and the on loan Dillon Barnes was untroubled.
The ever-willing Dan Martin providing promising deliveries, one met with the head by Danny Stevens-sized Joe Felix and flashed just wide. Hall’s volley equally found the advertising boards just left of the goal, and 0-0 was all it was ever going to be at half time. Moxey had every Gulls fan wincing when he hobbled off 3 minute before the break, but the soldier within him carried on.
0-0 at the interval. Sausage to pastry ratio in the sausage roll was very satisfactory. First half – 3/10, sausage roll – 9/10.
United came back out unchanged, the weather was anything but. One minute the standing contingent of the Yellow Army were shielding their eyes from the very mild winter sun, the next they were doing their best Gene Kelly impression of singing in the rain.
United started the second half like a house on fire. More great work from the Lemon saw his precise cross met by the galivanting Wynter, who volleyed into the side netting. Wright went even closer a few minutes later as his header crept wide after some good hustling by Lolos and Connor once more. United had their tales up, the Yellow Army were in fine voice, so it’s only inevitable the unthinkable happened….
Yeovil upped the anti ever so slightly as they tried to force a way through, chances were creeping in, but much to the relieve of the Gulls fans, it was only ever Row ZZ that was threatened. That is to say, when moments later a loose Danny Wright pass gifted possession to the home side in an advanced position, the ball broke to #3 Jordan Barnett who unleashed a pile-driver into MacDonald’s top left hand corner. On a six-pence. I don’t know this lad, but I’m sure he has never, or ever will hit a better shot in his life. The Gulls deflated but not dis-spirited.
Commander Johnson rang the changes. Armstrong replaced Lolos prior to the Yeovil goal, Felix made way for O’Connell and Holman replaced Moxey. The Gulls shape tweaked, whilst personnel were shifted as Torquay tried to find the right formula. Wynter moved in alongside Lewis, Chiori to RB, O’Connell and Evans occupying the wings with Armstrong partnering Wright and Holman. Individual errors were creeping in, misplaced passes, possession lost in dangerous areas, Torquay were behind only of their own doing.
However, that’s not to say that when the goal came, it wasn’t deserved. United were hunting for that equaliser. A quick counter attack from a wayward Yeovil free kick allowed the fresh O’Connell to slot in Armstrong, only for his shot to be saved well by his fellow QPR club mate. Undeterred, Torquay won a corner, and it was only fitting the corner taker himself, Lemonheigh-Evans, to find the the back of the net as his delivery drifted nicely beyond the keeper, who chose a completely inconvenient time (from a YTFC perspective) to channel his inner Clark Kent and flap the ball into goal. Gulls buoyed, 1-1.
It was end to end stuff, but United had the better chances. First Holman from an acute angle, and Armstrong’s ever willingness to batter and bruise (fairly) his opponents was getting the Yellow Army excited. The QPR loanee had the ball in the net, only for the the linesman to raise his flag. Was he offside? I don’t think so. If he was, it was millimetres. The attacks kept coming, the possession was being won, the balls were finding their men, so when Armstrong latched onto a neat line-clipper from Chiori, United sensed something special….
Shouts of ‘take him on’ and ‘do him’, mainly from me, were hounded as Sinclair carried the ball, did he listen to me, no of course not, and I’m glad he didn’t. The ball found its way inside to CLE, who delightfully, and I mean delightfully, scooped the ball into the positioned Holman. His control, not the best. The shot…. the best, the very best. A fantastic effort from a tight angle saw his shot crash past Barnes and into the net. Euphoria soon followed!
Scenes! Absolute first class scenes. A delirious and wet Yellow Army made noise that could be heard all the way back to the bay. Dan Holman, the man who’s not been at his best, the man who’s had to play a bit part role, provided the Gulls fans with a moment of sheer joy and elation. It may not have been as important as that Ben Wynter moment at Woking, but boy, did I celebrate it like it was. As did 1,033 fellow Gulls. Young and old alike.
There was a young boy and girl behind me. I hope that was their first game. I hope that was their first experience of Torquay United. Cherish those moments, you’ll look back on them fondly one day!
Shaun MacDonald: 8 – After a shaky start with a few wayward kicks, found his class again, including a superb first half save with the feet. Claimed well under pressure in the closing stages.
Ben Wynter: 8 – A typical strong display from Wynts. Continues to play his way into legendary status. Best RB since Canoville in my opinion.
Joe Lewis: 8 – He’s just great isn’t he. Many feared when Cameron and Sherring departed last season, but Joe has proved time again his importance to the team. Will be EFL player in no time, just hope it’s with us.
Dean Moxey: 8 – Continues to show every bit of his class and composure which once got him to the Premier League. Assured alongside Lewis and his experience is imperative.
Dan Martin: 9 – Very, very unlucky not to get MOTM. Some would argue he was and I wouldn’t disagree. Gets better by the game. Always an option on the left and has pace in abundance. Has come on leaps and bounds and fast becoming our best summer signing.
Johnson: 8 – Best game in a TUFC shirt I’ve seen from Chiori. Assured, did the simple things well and always battling. Tenacious player who showed his versality by occupying the wing and in at full back.
Hall: 7 – Solid performance from the captain. A few wayward passes in the first half, but also showed some class on the ball. Made some crowd-roaring challenges to boot.
Felix: 7 – Struggled early on but couldn’t knock his work rate. Thrusted into the midfield due to absentees. His figure may indicate he’s suited to the wing, but think he will be a good addition to the squad.
Lolos: 6 – Not for the want of trying. On the ball, skilful, and when he gets his head up, can pick a pass. Decision making still needs improving, but didn’t shy away. Kept working hard and put in a decent shift.
Wright: 7 – Decent usual performance from the big man. His misplaced pass led to the goal, but won his fair share in the air causing their defenders headaches.
Lemonheigh-Evans: 9 – MOTM, see below
Sinclair Armstrong: 9 – Could be the highest scores you’ll see from 3 subs this season. Came on and owned it. Always running, always chasing and causing problems for the Glovers backline. Changed the game no doubt about it.
Dan Holman: 9 – I’ll be the first to admit of my criticism to Dan, but yesterday I gladly ate humble pie. Came on and was busy. Unlucky with a shot moments before his winning goal, which he took superbly. Yellow Army will look back on that in years to come and it will provide a wide smile, so for that, Dan gets a 9.
Keelan O’Connell: 7 – Busy when he came on, provided pace on the breaks and slipped Armstrong through superbly which should have resulted in a goal. Good cameo.
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MAN OF THE MATCH: Connor Lemonheigh-Evans
It’s hard to oversee a player with a goal and assist for MOTM. Back to his best today and thought he controlled the game well. Upfront with Wright before the subs came on, and provided a strong work rate. Very quick to nip in and nick balls in dangerous positions, and delivered his set pieces well. Can’t recall a bad corner or free kick all game. The assist by the way…….WOW. He’s got that in his locker and some. Superb vision and execution to find Holman. Supplied Armstrong for the disallowed one as well. Solid.
As mentioned above, Dan Martin was superb on the left. Showing his true quality now which has seen him on the books at Fulham & Cardiff. Has the pace to cover round the back also. Played his way superbly into the starting XI. A word for Chiori as well, Gulls fans often not knowing his best position, but proved he’s a very versatile player. Played really well yesterday which only bodes well for the second half of the season.
Thought we defended set pieces well from some good Yeovil deliveries. Not always the case this season.
A good old fashioned 4-4-2 for the Gulls. The Lapslie injury and Little suspension would have forced the hand of GJ. Surprised to see Lolos out wide at the expense of Connor. Re-shuffling aplenty when the subs came on but our players showed their versatility, with Wynter to CB, Johnson to RB and Evans to the wing. Changed to a 3 up top with the subs.
Meh. Not overly impressed with the Glovers this season and would be disappointed to finish below them this season on this showing. Maybe they had Bournemouth on their minds. Will play worse teams this season, but mid-table seems likely.
Fairly anonymous from the man in the middle, which is only ever a good thing. Sometimes, well, most of the time, you get the whistle crazy, power hungry ref’s who like to be the centre of attention. Didn’t feel that with him today so kudos for that. Liked to hound Chiori late on for his time-wasting. Bit harsh considering Yeovil’s throws were taking an age. Near-side lino had a few iffy moments. Flagged for the offside goal, and again when Sinclair was through. But all in all, a satisfactory display from the officials.
I write this conclusion with a smile on my face. Drink in hand, watching the darts after a fantastic display, it was the joy and elation we needed to start 2022. The festivities are all but over, but Torquay have proved January isn’t so miserable after all! My ratings might indicate we outplayed Yeovil, and we were superb, but I don’t think that’s the case. What is the case is that we battled and never let our heads dropped. United rallied and ensured the 3 points headed back west. We will play better and lose, no doubt about it, equally, we will play worse and win 3-0. But that’s TUFC. Very, very happy with yesterday’s events, and the players know they have the greatest fanbase around to share those special occasions.
Stand up if you love the darts, stand up if you love the football!