Andy Charles – @CapitalGull
Andy blogs about Saturday’s game at Plainmoor
TORQUAY UNITED 1-0 EXETER CITY – MATCH SUMMARY
And that was that.
Three home pre-season friendlies in barely the blink of an eye and plenty to talk about from all of them, although not everything from Saturday’s 1-0 win over Exeter City will be positive.
After the drubbing at the hands of Exeter’s soon-to-be League One rivals there might have been a sense of “here we go again” but, on this occasion, one of Tuesday’s supposed villains became a Gulls hero in front of more than 2,500 inside a rocking Plainmoor.
Backed by an unmoving (at least in terms of where they stood throughout) and noisy Pop Side crowd the performance was a step up on midweek at the back and although going forward things were a little stagnant, victory was achieved in the closing stages with a first Plainmoor goal from Brett McGavin.
Inside a couple of minutes, it was obvious this Exeter side – with absolutely ZERO new faces in it – was going to be a different test to Plymouth; more physical, slower moving the ball and lacking in the kind of quality provided by Danny Mayor and Adam Randell in midfield.
United had the best early chances with Ryan Hanson having his most impressive game of a slightly delayed pre-season, while Ross Marshall was angry at himself at missing a chance to open the scoring before coming to the rescue at the other end with the aid of Mark Halstead…more of him to follow.
Strikers on a different wavelength meant a couple of further chances for Torquay to break were passed up, but we have to give Corie Andrews and Will Goodwin time to gel – and of course one of them might have to sit on the bench if Aaron Jarvis is okay for Oldham in a couple of weeks.
But it’s a nice problem to have – all three are different and once they are fully up to speed, I’d be hopeful they can all compete at National League level.
Exeter took half-an-hour to get properly settled in and, when they did, they found Halstead on a going day – a couple of decent saves from Tim Dieng and Sam Nombe before a third from the latter striker somehow saw him claw the ball on to the bar and away from imminent danger.
Nombe and Dieng were again denied early in the second half, with one of the saves producing an exasperated response from Exeter’s social media officer.
Soon after that there was a fairly lengthy delay to proceedings and concerning allegations (only allegations for now) of racist abuse aimed by Andrews by one of the Exeter defenders, who was booed constantly thereafter.
The referee came over and spoke to both managers so hopefully, if there was anything to it, action will be taken. Andrews looked visibly upset by what happened and Exeter boss Matt Taylor took time to come down to the Torquay dugout when he was subbed off in the closing stages to have a chat with him. Nothing said after the game in Gary Johnson’s club website interview.
Dean Moxey, cheered by both sets of fans, almost set Goodwin up for an opening goal with 13 minutes remaining and soon after came the second flashpoint when Hanson and former Gulls loanee Jack Sparkes went head-to-head inside the box. Cue much arm-waving from Exeter’s players and a yellow card for Hanson.
However there was to be something for the 1,700-odd Torquay fans to cheer as the game entered the last 10 minutes with a goalmouth scramble seeing the ball fall to McGavin and his volley beat Scott Brown and rippled the net. A goal, at last a Plainmoor goal for the brave Yellow men!
Time after that merely for a Marshall yellow card for, let’s just say, an agricultural foul to stop a rampaging Grecian attacker and the final whistle which was greeted by cheers the likes of which we hope to hear against Oldham in 14 days.
Halstead – Barely a mistake all game and some very big saves.
Crowe – Had his moments going forward and looked more solid at the back.
Evans – Not a wing-back for me but didn’t really impact the game that much when moved forward.
Marshall – Looked much more like the defender we need to replace Joe Lewis. Slightly concerned by his lack of pace.
Omar – Very good display and cut out the mistakes which marred Plymouth game.
Moxey – Again much improved from Plymouth.
Donnellan – Didn’t really get to pace with the game and might be the odd man out from the new signings when Lapslie or Hall returns.
Hanson – Harassed opponents throughout which was what I expected of him when he signed. Looked sharper and fitter.
McGavin – He’s the most creative of the midfield trio but Newport performance was better…extra credit for the winner.
Andrews – Still getting to grips with his new teammates.
Goodwin – Same as Andrews but I’ve taken a point off for some really poor balls into the box. Needs some end product
Wyatt (Trialist A) – Decent start for him given his lack of knowledge of his new (for now) teammates.
Koszela – Didn’t have much chance to get going.
Definitely some better signs today – Ali Omar was outstanding, Hanson made a number of key midfield interceptions and Halstead was a clear man-of-the-match – good for him after some fairly nasty comments from supporters following the Plymouth game. A decent 45 minutes too from Trialist A, former Sutton left-back Ben Wyatt, who looked composed and could be a decent addition to back up or supplant Dan Martin.
Now, the matter of a training game for season-ticket holders and a trip to Plymouth Parkway’s Bolitho Park, where we’ll take on Truro City in a hastily-arranged game on Saturday. Hopefully a chance for the injured Gulls and those who have enjoyed less playing time this month to get a good run-out before the points start to go on offer.