Torquay United Flag - Credit: James Boardman / Alamy Stock Photo

Bumper gate for Torquay United vs Buckland Athletic friendly

Dave Thomas

Olaf Koszela’s opportunist goal just before half-time was enough to earn Torquay United a 1-0 win over Buckland Athletic in Friday night’s opening friendly in front of a bumper gate of 1,050 at Homers Heath.

Gary Johnson’s Gulls deserved the result, especially for a lively first half in which they made and missed plenty of chances.

But Buckland made them work hard for everything and posed more of a threat as United sent on a series of young substitutes after the interval.

Buckland will be happy – the kick off had to be put back 15 minutes to accommodate a crowd even bigger than expected.

United duly dominated the first half with a performance full of pace – right wing-back Dylan Crowe and Kieron Evans up front to the fore – athleticism and commitment.

Brett McGavin was also an imposing and composed figure in central midfield, as well as being unlucky not to score several times.

Crowe supplied a stream of ‘ammo’ from the right, and the Gulls should have cashed in well before Koszela finally came up with a shot on the turn which appeared to leave ex-Torquay goalkeeper Andy Collings unsighted in the 40th minute.

Buckland’s only real threat then came from quick ex-Plymouth and Saltash winger Scott Crocker, but he was up against the composed figure of Dean Moxey, who usually knew just too much for him.

One downer for United was the loss of left wing-back Dan Martin, who limped off with an ankle problem after only 14 minutes.

Johnson, who did not include new men Ryan Hanson Aaron Jarvis or Ross Marshall, did name a clutch of teenagers on his bench, and the changes duly came in the second half.

Buckland included several of new manager Dan Hart’s signings, including Crocker and right-back Harry Hodges, the son of former Gulls player and boss Kevin Hodges, and Hart will have been pleased with their work rate and application.

United ended up with a very young side in the closing stages – Koszela took on the captain’s armband - and Buckland, also with some youthful changes, came right back into the game in the closing stages.

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Torquay United (3-5-2): Halstead (Trialist 46); Trialist A, Omar (Thomas 68), Moxey (Trialist D 46);

Crowe (Greenslade 68), Lapslie (Quinn 68), McGavin (Swann 70), Hall (Winsor 60), Martin (Trialist C);

Koszela (Gilbert 76), Evans (Brooks 60).

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