TT MATCH VERDICT
Elliot Milner – @Elliotmilner33
TORQUAY UNITED 1-0 WREXHAM AFC
Money can’t buy you happiness. Well certainly not for Ryan Reynolds. Torquay’s heroic display silenced the Wrexham faithful; and their multi-million pound squad. A performance that was galvanised by raw grit and determination, only boosts the Gulls play-off chances. The very nature that we are able to compete with a side that just last week purchased a player for £500,000, only highlights the magic that Gary Johnson possesses. And with that magic the Gulls were able to slay the extortionately priced Dragons.
Apart from an early near-post chance for Ollie Palmer, the Gulls had a bright start. Stephen Wearne utilised his flair to win Torquay a free-kick on the left-hand by-line. The resulting free-kick was perfectly delivered by Armani Little, whose ball cannoned off the head of skipper Asa Hall into the top-left hand corner of the Wrexham net.
20 minutes in, fellow Welshman Joe Lewis, put his body on the line, to deny Ollie Palmer of finding the back of the Gulls net. A scrappy end to the second-half, illustrated the Gulls phenomenal work rate – not allowing the opposition to threaten the Torquay box.
Super Shaun provided a life-line for the Gulls, with 2 unorthodox saves early in the second half. Yet again, Ollie Palmer had a chance to equalise, however his shot slid wide of the far post.
From 80 minutes onwards, the Gulls had their back against the wall, and defended like warriors. The emergence of Ali Omar in the 90th minute only shored up the tight Torquay back 5, with this substitution and the dauntless defending from the Yellows, Torquay were able to claim a narrow victory over an impressive Wrexham side.
Shaun Macdonald 8 – A stalwart between the posts, despite some dodgy kicking in the first half, Shaun was pivotal in Torquay’s victory.
Ben Wynter 7 – What more than I need to say, Ben Wynter = Consistency.
Joe Lewis 8 – He is a football league standard player, his ability to control the defence, and somewhat dictate the tempo from the back shows his importance to the side, and why we struggled without him against Solihull.
Dean Moxey 8 – Similar to Lewis, didn’t give the Wrexham attackers a chance, so composed on the ball, and that little bit of calmness and class saw us through the game.
Dan Martin 8 – With Asa stepping back into defence, this allowed Dan more freedom to push on forward. He has really come alive in the last few months, and hopefully he is only going to improve.
Asa Hall 8 – Rising like a salmon to score the only goal of the game, Asa only added to the defensive strength. Won everything in the air, and maybe looking forward, we might see him playing centre-half more regularly.
Tom Lapslie 9 – MOTM – See Below.
Armani Little 8 – Nice to see Little get stuck in today, I think with his previous injury problems this would have been the kind of game he would have gone unnoticed. But his ability to beat a man and play it out to either full-back consolidated his already astonishing season. Just unfortunate for him to come off earlier than I think he would have liked.
Stephen Duke-Mckenna 7 – Another player which got amongst it, and inevitably contributed to the win, for a small lad he got stuck in, and showed glimpses of class throughout the game
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans 7 – Like Wynter, we have come to expect these performances from Lemons. Held the ball up well, and with such an almighty leap was able challenge the Wrexham centre-halves in the air.
Stephen Wearne 7 – His skill led to the free-kick being won for the goal. A somewhat quiet game, but he covered some ground, running for loose ball after loose ball.
Dan Holman 6.5 – An intelligent substitution by Johnson, held on to the ball well in the dying embers of the game, and had a mazy run which led to a late Torquay corner.
Ali Omar 7 – Another clever decision from Johnson, he seemed to win everything for the Gulls in the last 7 minutes. He has really come on leaps and bounds since seeing him at the start of pre-season, maybe with a more assured keeper behind him now we will start to see the ex-Barnsley man flourish.
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MAN OF THE MATCH: Tom Lapslie
“Our midfield maestro” What a signing. Another gutsy performance from the non-league Kante. He never stops running, he goes into every challenge 100%, and that is exactly what you want from a player in your team. I think as a football fan, you only ask from your players that they give it their all, and Tom Lapslie absolutely epitomises that. This combined with his crafty game management, and his shithousery towards the opposition is why you just have to love the man. Fantastic recruitment from Johnson, and a player United have needed for a long time, especially in this league. Hats off to Tom.
Faced against a team that has spent more money on transfers in the 12 months than Torquay have in the last 12 years, we knew it was going to be a tough challenge, thus Johnson felt that a tactical tweak would be preferable for the game. He slotted Hall into centre-half, creating a back 3 with the returning Moxey and Lewis. This allowed freedom for Martin and Wynter to get out wide, and bomb forward along the wings. The substitutions of both Holman and Omar, further consolidated our standing in the game, and both tactically perfect for the scenario we were in.
Everyone knows what is going on at Wrexham, so I don’t feel any more qualified to explain the situation. However yesterday, Wrexham were pretty quiet, and the Torquay performance only nullified this further. Ollie Palmer looked to be the Dragon’s biggest threat, whilst ex-gull Luke Young had a couple of chances goal-bound in the game. With a team that has +16 goal difference, you would have expected more attacking threat, and to be fair they did throw the kitchen sink forward in the last 15 minutes. They are only 9 points ahead now, and sit 7th in the play-offs, so if Johnson and his men can get a run together, this might not be the last time we see them this season.
The block in the first half from Joe Lewis, encouraged the players, and set the foundation for a heroic defensive display.
With the raucous nature of the occasion, and some of that flowing onto the pitch, I felt the referee had a very astute performance, and was fair in the decisions he made. He booked Lapslie and Holman for both silly fouls, but I did feel that Moxey’s yellow was a bit harsh in retrospect of the game.
You can only take positives from such a passionate and determined display from the gulls. I feel that we are only a striker away from a play-off standard team, both Wearne and Duke-Mckenna have added to our attacking threat, and with this back 4/makeshift back 5, I feel if we can keep everyone fit, the play-offs will be looking ever closer. This is the time where the fans need to get right behind the players, as seen today it has made a massive difference and pulled them through the last 15/20 minutes. So with a bit of momentum, and a good heap of luck I think Torquay have a real chance of reaching the play-offs by May.
COYY – Elliot
PROUD AWAY SPONSOR OF KLAIDI LOLOS