TT MATCH VERDICT
Clive Hayward – @Byehorse
Torquay United 4-0 Aldershot Town
On a beautiful, clear evening with just a hint of residual winter freshness Torquay dismantled woeful opposition with an incisive attacking display.
It was a rare evening when nearly everything went right for the home side.
Early pressure from Torquay earned a right wing corner at the Babbacombe End on 13 minutes. The low cross was met by Dean Moxey with a diving header flat and low back into the bottom corner.
Stephen Wearne got a valuable second just three minutes later. Good feet from CLE got Duke-McKenna to the byline. His low cross was met emphatically by his fellow loanee for two nil.
Aldershot, a military town with a love-hate relationship with its noble Gurkhas, found themselves with a mountain to climb. They needed Sherpas. They only had donkeys.
The game was over as a contest when an unchallenged Aldershot defender sliced one past his keeper from close range after 24 minutes.
Before the end of the first half their coaching staff could be heard using the word “embarrassing” and they employed the old trick of sending their team out early for the second half and chucking on two substitutes.
But they were farting in a hurricane: on 47 minutes a laughable counter-attack broke down with a misplaced pass across midfield. Wearne intercepted it, drove on unchallenged, played Danny Wright in through a gap the size of the Tamar Estuary and our elder statesman made no mistake in sliding a cross to The Lemon, who arrived at the back post. He couldn’t and didn’t miss, and it looked like a big score was in the offing.
The extent of Torquay’s domination can be illustrated by the fact that Aldershot didn’t win a corner until about 10 minutes from the end and that their fans celebrated it like they had won the league. It stayed at 4-0 until the referee put the hapless Shots out of their misery.
Shaun MacDonald 7- He had one save to make all night. He comfortably caught a shot hit straight at him. Technically, I suppose he could get 10/10 but in all honesty this must have been one of the easiest paydays the big Geordie has ever had.
Ben Wynter 8- Didn’t give his opponents a sniff on his 150th appearance in a yellow shirt (obviously they haven’t all been yellow: he’s played in whites, pale blue, cyan, and black & stripes too, but you get the picture).
Joe Lewis 8- Dominant in the air. Better on the floor than most bruisers, he would be welcome back next year. I fear money may talk though. It usually does.
Dean Moxey 8 – Another I would keep if we can. Not a lot to do at the back and absolutely nailed his diving header for the opener.
Stephen Duke-McKenna 8.5- One of his best performances since arriving from QPR (see below). We have to factor in the very poor opposition but he looked a class apart.
Tom Lapslie 7- All effort as always. Given a rest after 65 minutes.
Armani Little 7- Got around the park well. Used the ball efficiently. Didn’t really stand out for me, and I was surprised when he was announced as the sponsors’ man of the match.
Stephen Wearne 7.5- He was anonymous at best at Halifax on Saturday. Tonight he was bright, on the front foot & deserved his goal.
Opi Edwards 6- Another who did better tonight than he had at the Shay, but Opi looks a very average right-sided player. No longer a flying winger. I don’t want to be too unkind but I hope this loan spell is his last.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans 8- A bright and effective performance. Not hard to find space and time tonight but you can only beat what’s in front of you.
Danny Wright 7- Won a good share of his headers. Decent with back to goal. A younger, fitter Danny would surely have got on the end of a cross or two but he did produce what I believe the fantasy footballists insist on calling an assist and he deserved the rest he’ll have had when withdrawn early.
Martin 7 (for Lapslie, 65)- Standard energetic performance from next season’s first choice left-back.
Holman 5 (for Wright, 65)- Standard shot-shy ineffectual contribution from next year’s Isthmian League journeyman.
Omar (for Moxey, 81)- No dramas!
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Man of the Match: Stephen Duke-McKenna
Wonderful feet, quick turns and decent vision. This young man plays with heart on sleeve and was a potent threat all night. Regularly turned his opponents inside out with drag backs and flicks that most of us can only dream of. Plainmoor is way too big to show off his skills properly: he’s more suited to a five-a-side pitch. Or a phone box.
Stephen Wearne had a good game tonight. He deserved his goal and looked confident. Champagne moment, however, came from the lad just along from me in the front row of Bristow’s. Late in the game Aldershot hammered a clearance hard and high in our direction. Craig Langley was up like a salmon to head the ball miles back on to the pitch. We clapped. Gary Johnson scribbled Craig’s name on his “one to watch” list and Ali Omar tried to swap shirts with him at the end!
Wynter, Lewis and Moxey were largely untroubled at the back. When out of possession Lapslie would play just in front of them with Little, McKenna & Wearne buzzing around. Opi Edwards patrolled the right flank to little effect and Wright led the line with CLE playing off him.
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You can see why Aldershot fans are leading lights in the Drinking on Trains community. Honestly, Shots were one the worst teams I’ve seen at Plainmoor since our NLS days. They gave the ball away in dangerous midfield areas and showed less intent to win it back than shell-shocked Argentinian conscripts shivering their way backwards across the Falklands. Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain was about as effective as Neville Chamberlain despite his family’s football pedigree and in central midfield near-Liverpool-star-namesake Mo Scylla stood out less for his work rate and finishing, and more for his resemblance to an emaciated version of Patrick Vieira.
Wearne’s second gave a great cushion and there never seemed the remotest chance of a comeback after that.
We could (maybe should) have scored more tonight against opposition who looked limited at the Recreation Ground before Christmas but are in freefall now. A defeat for Weymouth preserved their 7 point cushion from the relegation places but Aldershot’s long suffering fans must be tearing their hair out. Four nil will do nicely. though.
COYY – Clive
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