Sullivan 57, 75
A GOAL in the wrong net proved the catalyst for United to storm past Ilfracombe Town and book their place in round three of the Devon Bowl.
It was the ideal evening for manager Alan Knill to look at the fringe players in his squad, as well as some of our youth-team prospects but the plan was hardly going to plan when Stan Paxton gave the visitors a shock lead on 55 minutes.
The response was two goals in the next 90 seconds from Damon Lathrope and Daniel Sullivan, and the result was confirmed with a second for Sullivan on 75 minutes. Courtney Cameron added the gloss with a late fourth.
An experienced midfield was the starting point for United’s starting line-up, as Lathrope partnered Nathan Craig in the engine room. Cameron and youth-team forward Kevin McCallion filled the wide positions.
Dan Lavercombe started in goal behind a back four of Tom Cruise and Jake Hutchings being accompanied by scholars Oneil Odofin and Mickey Parcell. Sullivan and Ashley yeoman started up front.
The swirling wind almost intervened within the first minute, as Ilfracombe left-winger Liam Craze unleashed a drive from 25 yards that caught on the breeze and fizzed just over the bar. Moment later, Lavercombe made a brave block after Town forward Frank Paxton found space from a free-kick.
United responded with a dazzling run inside from Cameron, committing a number of Ilfracombe defenders and the loose ball dropped to Sullivan, who instantly lashed a shot inches wide of the far post.
Craig was next to test Kurtis Parkin in the visiting goal, flashing a low drive across the skiddy surface and the ‘keeper showed good hands to grasp the ball. Cameron then had a fierce shot from distance fisted clear by Parkin.
The Gulls were laying siege on the Ilfracombe goal, with Cameron, in particular, causing all manner of problems. The left-foot of Craig was also a constant option for the Yellows and when he unleashed a fabulous shot from distance, Parkin was relieved to see his fingertip save divert the ball over the bar.
It was, however, a sequence that summed up United’s major problem in the first period, as all of the shots on goal were coming from distance and credit to Ilfracombe for holding a decent defensive shape.
The half ended with a Craig effort deflecting on to the post but it would be the opening minutes of the second period when the game really took off.
First of all, Ilfracombe took a shock lead when Stan Paxton pounced on a loose ball after a slip by Odofin and the visiting striker did well to steer his shot inside the near post and leave the Gulls chasing the game.
It was a pursuit that lasted less than a minute, as a break from Cruise led to a half-cleared cross landing at the feet of Lathrope on the edge of the area, and he showed marvellous composure in curling a shot inside the bottom corner.
United’s second goal came within seconds. This time, Sullivan surged through a shell-shocked Town defence to find space 20 yards from goal and his low shot was beautifully directed beyond the exposed Parkin.
In a flash, it was 2-1 to the Gulls and there could have been a third for the Yellows when Cameron latched on to a clever pass from Yeoman, but Parkin did well to narrow the angles and deny the former Aston Villa winger.
Fitness was slowly becoming a bigger factor, as the professional legs began to turn the screw and the next Yellow goal duly arrived on 75 minutes. The move started with a lovely ball wide from Lathrope to Cruise and his near-post cross was neatly converted by Sullivan.
Yeoman then took centre-stage by squaring a lovely cross that just beat the outstretched leg of McCallion and his next move was a dance around the ‘keeper but the angle became too tight as his shot crashed into the outside of the post.
Cameron eventually notched the goal his performance deserved, bursting down the middle and curling a beauty into the top corner from 20 yards.
Game over and nice to see the Gulls score some good goals, but full credit also goes to Ilfracombe for a determined display.
Gulls [4-4-2]: 13 Daniel Lavercombe; 2 Mickey Parcell, 5 Oneil Odofin, 32 Jake Hutchings, 21 Thomas Cruise; 8 Kevin McCallion, 7 Damon Lathrope [capt], 20 Nathan Craig, 11 Courtney Cameron; 14 Ashley Yeoman, 31 Daniel Sullivan. Substitutes [not used]: 3 Jamie Alexandrou, 9 Liam Prynn, 10 Jordan Campbell, 12 Sam Chaney, 15 Jack Mace.
Ilfracombe [4-4-2]: 1 Kurtis Parkin; 2 Ian Cockwill [15 Ross Middleton 77], 4 Gary Skinner, 5 Lewis Ovey, 3 Josh Heafield; 7 Steve Holland, 6 Jamie Bright, 8 Kane Dryden [capt], 11 Liam Craze [16 Shaun Lewis 77]; 9 Stan Paxton, 10 Frank Paxton [14 Nathan Broome 77]. Substitutes [not used]: 12 Kevin Darch, 13 Edward Yeo.
Referee: Aaron Reed