Drummond o.g. 28
UNITED claimed their fourth away win of the season to take another step towards Football League survival, with a 2-0 victory over Morecambe at the Globe Arena.
The game turned following a four-minute spell midway through the first half, with Chris Doyle’s red card providing the prelude to Stewart Drummond’s bizarre own goal.
The Gulls secured victory with a goal of their own in the second half, with Ashley Yeoman providing the calm finish seconds after stepping off the bench.
United manager Alan Knill unsurprisingly picked the same side that secured the vital 3-2 home win over Barnet on Tuesday night. Injuries prevented Jim Bentley that luxury, so the Shrimps boss made three changes to the team which went down 2-0 away to Accrington last time out, with Will Haining, Chris McGready and Jordan Burrow being replaced by Doyle, Lewis Alessandra and Ryan Williams.
The game began in scrappy fashion, with neither side able creating anything in the way of clear-cut chances. United’s Ryan Jarvis had the only attempt of the early stages, but his long range effort missed the target by some distance.
Without warning, the game burst into life on 24 minutes with two incidents which turned the game in United’s favour. Firstly, Rene Howe flicked the ball forward towards the onrushing Elliot Benyon.
Just as the Gulls’ frontman looked set to exploit a clear path to goal, Morecambe’s young centre-half Doyle took the matter into his own hands with a clear trip which left the referee with no choice but to brandish a red card.
As if that wasn’t enough, four minutes later, the Yellows were given the ultimate present – Howe, after receiving the ball from a throw-in, flicked the ball over Drummond. The Shrimps’ defender managed to recover enough to divert ball back to his keeper, but somehow Barry Roche missed his kick and the pair could only watch in horror as the ball bounced under his foot and rolled into the net.
A horrible moment for Morecambe but for Torquay - after what seems like a season of waiting for some - a rare slice of luck.
The manner of the goal said everything about the quality of the game, and the remainder of the half produced little in the way of constructive football, as both teams tried to come to terms with the bizarre nature of proceedings.
Just before half time though, Morecambe gave a warning that despite their generosity, they weren’t prepared to hand over three points without a fight, as Williams’ long-range free kick forced the previously untroubled Michael Poke into a full-length punch to safety.
Early in the second half, another Williams free-kick found Drummond, but despite his determination to put the goalscoring record straight, he could only flick his header wide of the target.
On 53 minutes, a goal-kick from Poke fell fortunately into the path of Howe, who then played a delightful ball to set Bodin away, but his snap-shot curled wide of goal. It was purely a Route-One effort, but nearly a very profitable one.
The home side came with inches of levelling the score moments later, but again, luck intervened. After failing to clear their lines from a Morecambe corner, the ball fell kindly to the unmarked Andrew Wright, who let fly with a right-foot volley. Crucially though, the ball struck the inside of post and away to safety.
United, perhaps sensing that they would be pushing their luck waiting for any more gifts, set about extending their lead. On 56 minutes, Howe broke clear and saw his effort drift inches wide of goal, and then moments later, Jarvis came even closer, when from a pass by Lee Mansell, he saw his effort cannon off the bar.
It was now end-to–end stuff, with a free header from Gary McDonald coming worryingly close to drawing the home side level, before the action moved to the other end, with Howe this time feeding Billy Bodin in the box, but from a narrow angle, the Welsh winger’s drive could only hit the side-netting.
On 68 minutes, Knill made a substitution which may well go down in Yellow folklore. Benyon, whose committed display was only hampered by a knee injury sustained earlier in the game, was replaced by Yeoman.
The youngster had barely been on the pitch for a minute before he latched on to a pass from Mansell and took the ball on before curling a superb left-footed effort past Roche into the bottom corner of the net to double the Yellow’s advantage – it was a superb goal from the former trainee.
One sour note, on an otherwise excellent day for the Gulls came on 80 minutes, when Howe was booked for a mistimed challenge on Wright, meaning that the Yellows will tackle their final game of the season against Bristol Rovers at Plainmoor next weekend without their most recognised goal threat.
As the game entered injury time, another Williams free-kick caused further drama in the Torquay backline, but once again Poke was equal to it, pushing the ball round the post. That save proved to be enough to secure another vital victory for United, before thoughts turned to grounds elsewhere.
Needless to say, other scorelines did not go the way of the Gulls, meaning that United have a bit more work to do next weekend before their Football League status is secured.
There really is only one place to be for those with TUFC close to heart next Saturday , when a rollercoaster season comes to its conclusion with an afternoon of high drama.
For one last time in 2012-13, we need the Yellow Army to pack out Plainmoor, and see the lads home.
United[4-4-2]: 1 Michael Poke; 2 Joe Oastler, 5 Brian Saah, 4 Aaron Downes, 3 Kevin Nicholson; 8 Ryan Jarvis, 7 Lee Mansell [capt], 6 Damon Lathrope, 15 Billy Bodin [19 Danny Stevens 89]; 9 Rene Howe, 26 Elliot Benyon [23 Ashley Yeoman 67]. Substitutes [not used]: 11 Ian Morris, 13 Martin Rice, 16 Angus MacDonald, 20 Nathan Craig, 21 Thomas Cruise.