TORQUAY United began a trio of tough festive fixtures with a Boxing Day home encounter with Forest Green Rovers.
The Yellow Army were in good voice in the opening exchanges against a Rovers’ side who went into the game in second place in the table following a solid first half of the campaign.
With blustery conditions, it took until the eighth for the first effort at goal as Darren Carter’s swirling effort from distance flew over before a looping header from Jon Parkin landed just off-target.
As Rovers started to get into their stride, Durrell Berry did well to clear in front of goal.
There was a neat passage of play from United which was started by Courtney Richards, who was back from injury and skippering the side in place of the suspended Angus MacDonald. The ball found its way to Simon Heslop via Dan Butler and his cross was inviting but claimed by the ‘keeper.
Another ball whipped in, this time from the left by Kevin Nicholson, also posed questions of the visitors’ defence by Steve Arnold was able to grab the ball to ease the pressure on his side.
With 20 minutes on the clock, it was Forest Green who took the lead courtesy of a powerful right-footed volley from Keanu Marsh-Brown.
United’s response was instant when some good pace from Wright on the right-hand side ended with his ball inside finding Tyrone Marsh whose strike found its way past Arnold and over the line as the assistant referee flagged to confirm it went in.
In the wake of the goal, Aman Verma was booked for a strong challenge on Jon Parkin.
It was developing into an entertaining encounter with both sides creating opportunities as United started to play with confidence, using the wide-men to good effect.
A delicious low ball in from Dan Butler caused problems for FGR as it was scrambled clear in front of goal.
With 36 minutes on the clock, another cross into the area, this time from the busy Simon Heslop, was cleared for a corner and the resulting flag-kick was taken short to Richards whose cross to the far post found Marsh in space and he headed home to make it 2-1 to United.
As half-time approached, United were playing with plenty of pride, passion and great energy and as the players left the field at the interval, they received the warm round of applause that they so richly deserved.
The second half started with a great save from Dan Lavercombe to deny Guthrie who latched onto a good ball from Frear.
United were under a bit of early pressure at the start of the second period as FGR looked for a leveller.
There was a chance for FGR substitute, O’Connor, who turned sharply before firing just wide of the target.
As United looked to get a foot-hold back in the game, a shooting opportunity presented itself to Richards but he delayed his strike and it allowed the visitors to get in a block.
Some great play in midfield by Heslop saw him feed Butler whose cross was claimed by the ‘keeper just ahead of Marsh.
With just over a quarter-of-an-hour left to play, Marsh left the field to a standing ovation as Louis Briscoe took his place.
The dangerous Frear did well on 77 minutes as his eventual strike went close for the visitors.
On 83 minutes, United grabbed the all-important third goal when a great ball from Heslop set Briscoe away and he was denied by a couple of important blocks by the ‘keeper, the second of which saw the ball rebound to Durrell Berry who made no mistake!
It sent the players and supporters into raptures as Kevin Nicholson was replaced by Josh Carmichael for the closing stages.
The final minute saw a fourth goal added as Andre Wright burst forward and stayed cool to slot home and make it 4-1. What a great day for United as the Man of the Match was announced as the whole team!
There was a third and final change in stoppage time as Sean Finch replaced Wright.
The final whistle signalled a deserved victory for United as players and supporters joined together to show their appreciation of each other in what was an extremely positive Boxing Day for Torquay United.