TT MATCH VERDICT – DOVER AFC 1-3 TUFC, 12th Feb 2022

TT MATCH VERDICT

Thomas Kelly

Thomas Kelly – @tommyktufc

DOVER AFC 1-3 TORQUAY UNITED 

MATCH SUMMARY:

It took until “Gary Time” to seal the three points, but Torquay United overcame the bottom of the table Dover Athletic to continue our good run of form in the National League, with our seventh league win in ten matches. That’s not to say it was all plain sailing. A battling Dover side made us work for it but thanks to goals from Asa Hall, Joe Lewis and Stephen Duke-McKenna, the Gulls quest for the play-offs continued to build up momentum.

It started out perfectly. Only two minutes in and Asa Hall, on the half volley from just outside the eighteen yard box slammed in the opener after Dover failed to properly clear the ball away. It set the tone of the first twenty five minutes, Torquay controlling the play, passing the ball well and creating the better chances. Holman should have done better on eleven minutes, his shot well over the bar and closer to finding Calais than the goal. Soon after Joe Lewis, unmarked from a corner, headed just wide of the post.

Dover’s defensive frailties were already showing and Ben Wynter found himself with a chance which went well wide in the end. Little, Wearne and CLE were linking up nicely in the midfield and almost created a second goal that would have been well deserved.

Instead, Dover’s first corner of the game on twenty six minutes brought parity to the game. It was sloppy from us and Jake Goodman was able to slide the ball home for the equaliser. 1-1.

Suddenly, Dover were in the game and our lovely football started to become more hoof ball. Dover began to believe they could get something. The two wingers for the hosts looked to be the biggest dangers. After a few half chances, we could and should have gone in ahead. Two great chances in the space of seconds from Wearne and Hall were wasted. Wearne’s effort saved at close range and Asa, having shown great quality with his goal, skied the rebound over the bar. Sitter.

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The second half started slowly but the Gulls grew into the half as it progressed, despite some early Dover pressure. Holman was denied what looked a clear penalty after showing some great control and skill to work his way into the box. Just as he was about to pull the trigger, he was taken out but the officials remained unmoved. Wynter hit a shot wide soon after and it got you wondering if it would be a frustrating afternoon in Kent.

It almost became that when Lewis misjudged the flight of the ball and Gyasi somehow with just MacDonald to beat, failed to put any proper power or control to waste a glorious chance. They would be made to pay for the miss.

The introduction of Danny Wright created the impetus we needed to go ahead. After seeing his free-kick saved, Armani crossed in a beautiful ball which Joe Lewis emphatically headed in from close range to restore the Gulls lead.

With the hosts pressing late on, Torquay sealed victory on the counter. Little set up sub Duke-MeKenna, who slotted the ball home in injury time to seal the points and send the 150 or so Torquay fans into delight. 3-1 win, three points. Get in there!!  

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PLAYER RATINGS:

Shaun MacDonald: 7 – In all honesty, I don’t recall a big save that he had to make. Typical Shaun MacDonald performance really. Will be frustrated to have conceded but did everything well.

Ben Wynter: 7 – Solid Ben Wynter performance. I love how he tries to get up the pitch and tries to create something. He had a few chances himself to score but not to be today. 

Dan Martin: 7 – What a rise it’s been since I saw him at Havant a few months ago. He had to work hard against the pacey wingers and was caught out a few times at 1-1, but on the whole he was pretty good. Good shift from him.

Joe Lewis: 8.5 – This guy is something special isn’t he? Bullet header for our second goal, put in a sterling performance at the bag and despite almost letting Dover in at 1-1, he was superb. He’s almost taken up the Asa role of being a threat some corners and set pieces and to have five goals this season as a defender, that’s some good going. Football League quality player.

Dean Moxey: 6.5 – Standard Dean Moxey really. A game where I didn’t notice him much, which from a defensive standpoint is probably a good thing. Maybe caught out of position a few times but overall steady.

Tom Lapslie 7 – Like Ben Wynter, it was a typical Tom Lapslie performance. That lad doesn’t stop running. Made some critical tackles, especially towards the end of the first half when Dover got themselves through on goal. Maybe not his best performance in a Gulls shirt but I like this guy a lot.

Connor Lemonheigh-Evans: 8 – Good performance from the Lemon. Set up the third goal for Duke, played some lovely balls, linked up well in the midfield with Little and Wearne.

Asa Hall: 8 – Brilliant Asa Hall. Great strike for the opener, although should have done better with the rebounded effort from Wearne towards the end of the first half. Otherwise like the majority, very solid performance from the skipper.

Armani Little: 8 – Played some good stuff, almost scored again from a free kick, set up the cross from the corner for Lewis to head us back in front. I wonder if those who booed him in the home fixture still want to boo him now?

Stephen Wearne: 6.5 – Started well, missed a really good chance late in the first half, maybe didn’t quite get into the game as much as he wanted but still a good effort from the Sunderland loanee. Subbed after an hour.

Dan Holman: 6 – Should have had a penalty without question but I’m not sure he’s our answer upfront. A few times he was muscled off the ball with ease and never really got himself into decent areas. That said, he showed his quality just before he got taken out and I think there’s a good player there that needs coming out. More of Yeovil (a) would be good.

Subs:

Stephen Duke-MeKenna: 7 – Sealed the win in “Gary Time” with a calm and cool finish. Very surprised to not see him start but a very good loan signing for us so far.

Danny Wright: 6.5 – Good to see Danny back and you could immediately tell once he came on that it was the change we needed. Did the basic things well and fingers crossed he stays fit for the rest of the season.

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MAN OF THE MATCH: JOE LEWIS

His celebrations when he headed us back in front were brilliant. He loved it and so did we. Five goals for the Welshman is a very good return for a defender and you can tell he will be an EFL player in the not too distant future, hopefully with us. One thing we’ve missed this season was a danger man from set pieces and Joe should have had at least two goals from corners in this game. It was a game where no-one really stood out for being fantastic, but Joe definitely was man of the match for me.


HONOURABLE ME NTIONS:

Asa Hall for the way he took his goal. It was a vintage performance from the captain and it’s been said that if Asa has a good game, most times we come out on top. Like I said above, it was a game where not many players stood out as an individual, but as a team we played pretty well for most of that game.

Another mention to the Yellow Army as well for their excellent support. Estimated around 150 or so – fair play to everyone who made the long journey east.


TACTICS:

3-5-2 as we’ve come to expect in recent weeks.img_7899

THE OPPOSITION

With relegation almost certain since the opening game, Dover struggled to contain us early on and despite getting back into the game and having a few chances, I think overall the better team won and they could be thankful we only scored three goals. That said, they’re definitely a better side than the one we faced at home a few months ago and I’m sure they’ll get a few more wins under their belts as the season reaches the final few months. Decent food and good atmosphere from the home fans once they got back into the game. They “hate Torquay” as the song goes and I’m sure they hated us even more once the third goal went in.  Not sure on the clubs financial state but I’m sure they’ll give the NLS a good go next season.

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KEY MOMENT:

The result could have been so much different had Guasi managed to bury his chance that sailed over Lewis at 1-1. Thankfully a combination of not getting enough power and poor control of the ball spared us and five minutes later, Lewis’ thunderbolt header put us back in front and on course for victory. Fine margins.


THE OFFICIALS:

Standard National League fodder. Seemed reluctant to give us many free-kicks until midway through the second half of the game. Failed to speed their keeper up at 1-1 although didn’t do anything to speed Shaun up at 2-1, so swings and roundabouts I guess. Seen better.


CONCLUSION:

In the end, a potential banana skin was avoided and our charge up towards the play-offs continues to gather steam. To win seven from the last ten league games is a great return after a slow start to our league campaign and although I still think we’re a striker short, the Gulls continue to quietly rise up the table and with a few clubs having to balance FA Trophy and league duties, the pressure will be on them to keep us at arms reach. The gap is now down to six points to that coveted final play-off spot. Could we? With Gary in charge, anything is possible!

COYY – Thomas


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