Rachel Malloch – @RachelVillavox
Rachel looks back at the win over Taunton Town
TORQUAY UNITED 4-2 TAUNTON TOWN
A re-scheduled Tuesday night FA Trophy 4th round tie under the Plainmoor floodlights against a lowly National League South local team Taunton Town was a kill or cure antidote certainly for this Torquay United supporter following an already hectic working week, yet once the bright lights streamed the approach along the TQ1 streets and Wifi signal had been restored after much waving of mobile phone in the air yards from the Popside turnstiles to obtain ticket QR code, strains of children nearing its conclusion and the usual relative comfort surroundings of Bristow’s bench seat exchanged for the terraces (as is the tradition for cup games) and like that, it was kick off.
Taunton Town brought a lively 137 supporters with an array of claret & blue flags, a figure that most definitely would have been a fair few more had the game not succumbed to the elements Saturday afternoon, with another 1,300 home fans braving a quite perishing, cold evening.
Torquay fielded a strong if defensive looking XI which included both new loan signings Ricky Aguiar and young defender from along the south coast Nico Lawrence, a player who arrived with positive reviews from Saints supporters.
The early stages saw both teams splaying the ball around quite tidily, Torquay edging the midfield supremacy with the always eager Tom Lapslie biting and snapping at every loose ball, a more forward Shaun Donnellan too the more prosaic and both Kieron Evans and Ricky Aguiar adding plenty zest and the lone forward Aaron Jarvis largely untroubled by the Taunton centre halves, winning his own aerial battles. 2 relatively quick goals, a beauty from Dillon De Silva and a well taken header from Ali Omar, the latter whom celebrated as we would expect as if he’d scored the cup final winner and it was (seemingly) cruising into the last 16.
The script is very often written and ripped up with this Torquay United team though and after an attack was broken up and what looked like a heavy foul on Kieron Evans with the Torquay defence gormlessly staring incredulously at the referee, play continued. Taunton swept through with ease and reduced the deficit and again, the defence breached far too easily and the game was level again. Taunton player turned hero to villain when what appeared a similar assault on Evans saw the often pedantic whistle happy referee brandish a straight red card.
This Torquay United squad are a Jekyll and Hyde set up, moments of quite lovely football followed by misreading, casual sloppiness, static play, only to resume with more pass and go fluency, often a compliment is quickly followed by exasperation. Finding any consistency would be welcome.
The 11 men of Torquay started to find the inevitable gaps in the 2nd half and a terrific run and cross by the impressive Ben Wyatt met the leaping Aaron Jarvis for a precision header to restore the lead and later Jarvis executing the penalty after a handball that saw the afflicted Taunton player stay down for a considerable time clutching his crown jewels…..with one or both of the hands that had made contact with ball in the box.
A far from assured performance but some bright moments, a solid looking Nico Lawrence in defence, a joyfully taken goal from the ever popular Ali Omar, steady play from Player of the Month Shaun Donnellan, an excellent performance from Aaron Jarvis upfront, Tom Lapslie as always giving his all like his life depended on it, Mark ‘safe hands’ Halstead largely untroubled, some encouraging football from full back Ben Wyatt. Still question marks about loan midfielders Kieron Evans and Ricky Aguiar, the former showing busy industry around the box but a largely disappointing final ball or shot. Interestingly the introduction of Ryan Hanson brought a fresh wave of attacks and the player did well with some surging runs and good quality through balls. Dillon Da Silva is now firmly a fans favourite with the 7 Nation Army styled song belted out at intervals and one particularly Rodney Jack like run through 3 Taunton players in the 2nd half rolling out the plaudits from the terrace.
Credit as well to Taunton for providing a good test for this squad of players, even when down to 10 men they continued to ping the ball about and never really allow Torquay to step off the gas, despite the 2 – 0 lead.
Still work to do in certain areas and some training ground shooting practice in the 6 yard box wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Into the last 16 and a tough but winnable contest versus Barnet at Plainmoor awaits. If we can overcome Ben Wynter’s orange and black army, we enter dare to dream territory. Wembley, Wembley, when we’re all rather refreshed and we’re off to Wembley………