Boxing Day bonanza for the Gulls

Torbay Weekly

Bouncing back from their FA Trophy defeat at Tonbridge Angels and overcoming a raft of Covid-related problems before kick-off, Torquay United ended Yeovil Town's eleven-match unbeaten run with another rousing performance in a full-blooded Boxing Day derby in front of Plainmoor's biggest crowd of the season (3,830).

Twelve months on from routing the Glovers 6-1, Gary Johnson's Gulls - veteran duo Danny Wright and Dean Moxey were outstanding in attack and defence respectively - deservedly earned their third successive National League victory in a match which turned on six action-packed minutes midway through the second half.

With the score at 0-0, first Yeovil had young loan forward Sonny Blu Lo-Everton sent off for an off-the-ball offence against United midfielder Tom Lapslie.

The Gulls then scored twice in four minutes through Ben Wynter (66) and Jack Sparkes (70) .

And nine points from three games was clinched by a thumping header by centre-back Joe Lewis - his fourth goal of the season - in the 86th minute.

As things unravelled for Darren Sarll's visitors, goalkeeper Grant Smith was also dismissed by referee Scott Jackson after the final whistle.

Johnson found himself without several players, including goalkeeper Mark Halstead, Sinclair Armstrong and Joe Felix, all self-isolating, with physio Kai Hepworth also absent for the same reason.

But Connor Lemonheigh-Evans did come into the starting XI after injury.

The first half may not have been a thing of beauty, but it was a right old contest all the same.

United dominated possession and territory, but couldn't summon up the passing quality in midfield or the crucial decision-making near goal to turn their pressure into goals or real chances.

Lemonheigh-Evans hit the side-netting on the narrowest of angles when he might have chosen a better option on an inviting headed flick by Wright.

Veteran Wright played well against Town's two big centre-backs Wilkinson and Hunt.

In the 22nd minute, Lapslie fired over when he should probably have hit the target after a pitch-length move involving Shaun MacDonald, Sparkes, Wright and Klaidi Lolos.

Adi Yussuf had the Glovers' best, and only real, chance of the first half, glancing a header just wide of the far post from a left-wing move between Matt Worthington and Sonny Blu-Everton.

But in the run-up to half-time, Yussuf and Wprthington were both booked by referee Scott Jackson after a series of niggling fouls.

Joe Lewis headed just over from an Armani Little corner just before the interval as the Gulls continued to pen Yeovil in their own half for long periods.

The Glovers had played second-fiddle to that point, but they came out hard in the second half and Wilkinson headed over after United struggled to deal with one of the set-pieces which are their speciality.

But the dismissal of Lo-Everton - referee Jackson consulted his nearest linesman before sending the Watford loanee off after felling Lapslie off the ball - changed everything.

United immediately had loud penalty shouts turned down as Lolos appeared to be tripped, but the breakthrough came when Wright, who gave a terrific show of target-man play, crossed from the left, Lolos nearly finished, but Wynter was there to tap in at the far post…1-0.

Four minutes later a half-cleared United corner fell to Sparkes, he hit a sweet left-foot shot from the edge of the box and the ball flicked off Williams' despairing attempt to block and flew into the net…2-0.

It would have taken a nightmare collapse for United to lose it from there and MacDonald, who'd had a fine game to that point, nearly threw Yeovil a lifeline when he miskicked a clearance straight to Worthington - and then somehow recovered to pull off a brilliant save when a goal seemed certain.

Dan Moss hit the bar as United again could not clear a set-piece, but Yeovil seldom looked like beating a determined United defence from open play and, as Lolos, Sparkes and Moxey all left to standing ovations, the Gulls wrapped it up in the 86th minute.

Lemonheigh-Evans supplied the cross from the left and, as Yeovil held their back line hoping for offside, Lewis already up for a corner, timed his run past them and planted an unstoppable header back past Smith and inside the near-post…3-0.

As a rocking Plainmoor celebrated at the final whistle, Town goalie Smith must have said something out of order to Mr Jackson and his officials, because he was sent off to complete a miserable day for the Glovers.

Torquay United (4-3-1-2): MacDonald; Wynter, Lewis, Moxey (Omar 90+1), Martin; Little, Lapslie, Sparkes (O'Connell 88); Lemonheigh-Evans; Lolos (Johnson 81), Wright; subs not used - Hall, Holman.

Booked: None.

Yeovil Town (4-3-1-2); Smith; Moss, Hunt, Wilkinson, Williams (Reid 81); Gorman (Barnett 78) Worthington, Williams; Blu-Everton; Wakefield, Yussuf (Knowles 69); subs not used -Evans, Headley.

Sent Off: Lo-Everton 64, Smith after the finish. Booked: Yussuf 38, Worthington 45, Gorman 59, Moss 75.

Referee: Scott Jackson (Hants).

Attendance: 3,830 (643 Glovers fans).