Bowman pen 27
TORQUAY United strolled to a comfortable 2-0 win over an Altrincham side that never looked like matching their Yellow hosts.
Kadell Daniel opened the scoring with a neat finish midway through the first period and the game was up five minutes later, when Ryan Bowman slotted home a composed penalty kick.
The Gulls could have scored many more on a relaxing afternoon and Altrincham’s miserable display was compounded by the late dismissal of Jake Moult.
United manager Chris Hargreaves made two changes from the side beaten at Aldershot on Easter Monday, restoring fit-again Bowman to the attack in a move that saw Toby Ajala drop back to replace the injured Courtney Cameron on the wing.
A reversion to a normal 4-4-2 led to Courtney Richards moving to the substitute’s bench and Daniel was given another chance to impress on the flank after recently joining on loan from Charlton.
Altrincham boss Lee Sinnott made just the one alteration from the side narrowly beaten at Gateshead on Monday, with the robust Peter Cavanagh replaced in midfield by Simon Richman.
It was a special day for teenage goalkeeper Daniel Lavercombe, making his full home debut for the Gulls and interesting to note his opposite number in the Altrincham goal, Stuart Coburn, is 20 years older than the Yellow custodian.
Lavercombe was introduced to the game by a very crude and late challenge from Damian Reeves. The only way the Altrincham striker escaped a booking was the fact the tackle came in the opening two minutes but it still should have been a yellow card.
Moments later, the youngster was diving full length to palm clear a low shot from Jordan Sinnott and Reeves was denied a tap-in opener by the assistant referee’s flag being raised in a swift act of football karma.
All the action continued to revolve around the goalkeepers and Coburn was left in a crumpled heap on six minutes after slipping on the turf with nobody close to him. The veteran was quickly removed from the action and replaced by David Parton.
The new stopper faced his first minor test when a long free-kick forward was headed into the area and Aaron Downes rose highest to nod the ball back into the danger zone, but Ben Harding could not stretch his left boot far enough to threaten the goal.
The Gulls were gradually cranking up the pressure and an inviting cross from Louis Briscoe was bundled goalwards by the midriff of Daniel, but Parton comfortably swallowed the effort.
Within 30 seconds, the same man in Yellow was celebrating the opening goal after picking up a cross from Bowman, turning beautifully past his man before steering a low shot into the far corner.
It was a controlled and confident finish from a young player with obvious talent in his left foot, and the Gulls were soon given a glorious opportunity to double their lead after a lunge by Gianluca Havern on Bowman.
It was a clear penalty and the incident stemmed from a terrific United move down the left involving Briscoe and Daniel. Bowman clambered to his feet and dinked a cheeky penalty past Parton and into the top corner.
United’s leading scorer then threw the ball against the back of Parton in a naughty celebration, prompting an unseemly melee that saw both Bowman and Moult booked. To his credit, Bowman accepted responsibility for the situation and apologised to Parton.
Three minutes later, Bowman was forced to hobble out of the action with a shoulder injury and was replaced in attack by John Campbell, who had only just returned to the bench after a three-week absence with a hamstring problem.
Confidence was now flowing through United ranks and a weaving run from Toby Ajala left full-back Adam Griffin with twisted blood, but the low cross was hacked clear by a stretched Thomas Marshall.
United ended the first period in complete control and a slick start to the second half, saw Ajala slip a clever pass inside to Campbell and he immediately steered a shot toward the far post that Parton did well to palm wide of his goal.
Ajala was giving Griffin a torrid afternoon and yet another determined surge down the right led to a low cross that Marshall could only hoof clear under heavy pressure from the approaching Briscoe.
Altrincham briefly emerged from their lethargy to string together a neat passing move that culminated in space for James Lawrie 20 yards from goal, but his shot was rocketed miles over the bar.
The action was soon back up the other end and Parton added another chapter to his own nervous performance, playing a pass straight to Campbell, who quickly sorted out his feet and curled a shot toward the vacant goal from a difficult angle that only missed by a fraction.
Parton and Marshall then indulged in criminal indecision from the next Yellow attack, as Campbell latched on to a lofted clearance from Aaron Dawson to fire in a shot that deflected clear of the legs of a beleaguered substitute goalkeeper.
Jordan Sinnott did threaten to lift the Alty mood with a free-kick curled narrowly wide on 65 minutes and United then had to thank Levi Ives for an excellent covering challenge to block Reeves after an innocuous pass over the top.
Lavercombe produced a super low block moments later and the Altrincham resurgence prompted Lee Sinnott to freshen his ranks by replacing Richman with the physical presence of Kyle Perry.
Altrincham had definitely improved and Lavercombe was forced to use his fists in beating clear a dipping shot from Jordan Sinnott before diving full-length to thwart a long-ranger by Scott Leather.
United relieved the pressure with a super break down the left from Campbell and his square pass to Briscoe allowed the United number seven to cut inside for a low shot angled inches beyond the far post.
Courtney Richards replaced Briscoe for the final 10 minutes and the new man was soon waving to Moult on his way by, as the Alty midfielder received a second yellow card and the subsequent red for a trip on Daniel.
Ryan Crowther for Nicky Clee was the last Altrincham change but United were the side going forward, and Parton saved well to deny Ajala from a difficult angle following a determined run through midfield by Richards.
It was the final act of a pleasant afternoon in the Spring sunshine and well played United.
United (4-4-2): 31 Daniel Lavercombe; 29 Aaron Dawson, 5 Krystian Pearce, 4 Aaron Downes (capt), 25 Levi Ives; 10 Toby Ajala, 22 James McQuilkin, 6 Ben Harding, 20 Kadell Daniel; 7 Louis Briscoe (16 Courtney Richards 81), 9 Ryan Bowman (32 John Campbell 33). Substitutes (not used): 1 Martin Rice (GK), 14 Ashley Yeoman, 26 Ollivier Gueguen.
Booked: Bowman 28
Altrincham (4-4-2): 1 Stuart Coburn (17 David Parton 8); 6 Scott Leather, 5 Gianluca Havern (capt), 16 Thomas Marshall, 3 Adam Griffin; 8 Simon Richman (14 Kyle Perry 66), 4 Jake Moult, 26 Jordan Sinnott, 11 Nicky Clee (19 Ryan Crowther 84); 7 James Lawrie, 10 Damian Reeves. Substitutes (not used): 9 Steven Gillespie, 20 Joel Swift.
Booked: Moult 28, Sinnott 78
Sent-off: Moult 82
Referee: Mark Pottage
Attendance: 1,462 (84 away).