Great win for the Gulls

Torbay Weekly

Torquay United 2 Stockport County 1

Roared on by Plainmoor's best atmosphere of the season so far, Torquay United pulled off their best win of the campaign when they upset big-spending Stockport County after a display full of character and grit.

Gary Johnson's Gulls followed up last weekend's 2-1 win at Weymouth with a rousing display in front of their own fans.

Sinclair Armstrong forced an own-goal off County's Will Collar in the 19th minute, only for Collar to equalise only two minutes later.

But it was a penalty by skipper Asa Hall, his second goal of the season, deep into first-half stoppage-time which proved to be the winner.

United had to man every barricade to keep Stockport out in the second half, but their supporters stuck with them through every tackle and header, and the Gulls eventually held on to inflict County's first defeat in six league games.

Johnson had Danny Wright and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans available again, but they filled places on the bench, along with new signing Joe Felix.

Loanee Jack Sparkes from Exeter City made his starting debut, but on the right of midfield instead of the left.

Johnson also promoted Armstrong to partner Klaidi Lolos up front.

United's eager 'press' forced Stockport back in the first 15 minutes, with Dan Martin up and down the left wing to good effect.

He chased one 'lost' cause to force a corner off goalkeeper Ben Hinchcliffe, who had dashed well off his line, and then got back to block a dangerous cross by Macauley Southam-Hales moments later.

But having soaked up early pressure, Stockport then stepped up a gear.

Antoni Sarcevic pulled a fine save from Shaun MacDonald, on a flick by Paddy Madden, the ball rebounding off Joe Lewis and behind for a corner.

Ben Wynter then hooked the ball behind to stop Collar scoring, and MacDonald produced another top save from Mark Kitching, who met a corner with a firm shot from 12 yards.

That was in the 19th minute, and the Gulls went straight to the other end and scored.

Armstrong seized on a misplaced pass, ran clear of the County defence on the right, his cross-shot beat Hinchcliffe, but hit Collar, who was running back to help out, and into the net from close-range…1-0.

They say that a team is never more vulnerable than when they've just scored, and two minutes later County equalised.

Delighted to make up for the OG, Collar arrived at the far-post from midfield to tap in Kitching's cross from the left…1-1.

Stockport captain Madden was booked for taking Sparkes' legs from under him as an engrossing match swayed from one end to the other.

Lewis had a set-piece header held by Hinchliffe, Sparkes cut in from the right and fired not far over and Ryan Rydel missed a good chance to take the lead from another cross by Southam-Hales.

The game was held up for five minutes while Hinchcliffe was treated for a mouth injury - he had dropped the ball and Armstrong had flung out a boot to try and win it.

That stoppage-time would prove important, but not before an action-packed run-up to half-time.

In the 44th minute, Hinchcliffe denied first Lolos and then Tom Lapslie with fierce shots.

Madden chested the ball down and hit the bar from the edge of the penalty area.

Armstrong failed to make the most of a great position, for either a shot or a pass to Lolos.

But in the final minute of that injury-time, United regained the lead.

Hinchliffe produced another acrobatic save, when Lewis flicked on a Moxey long throw and Lolos was there with a goalbound header.

But as County tried to clear the loose ball, Sarcevic tripped Moxey, still up after his throw, and it was a penalty.

Hall took his time, and a long run, before thumping the spot-kick into the bottom right-hand corner…2-1.

The 'Pop Side' was in great voice, but Stockport came on strong in the second half, as they had to do.

MacDonald pulled out two more solid saves from Madden low down to his right and then Ryan Croasdale at close-range, with play twice being held up again, after coins were thrown from the Away End.

County boss Dave Challinor made a double-change in the 62nd minute.

It was a straight-swap in defence - Sam Minihan for Jordan Keane - and a striker, Alex Reid, for midfielder Collar.

Ollie Crankshaw was inches away from an equaliser, just wide of the left-hand post with a deflection, before Croasdale turned and hit the angle of post and bar from the half-cleared corner.

United were soaking up too much pressure, and not keeping the ball when they got it, and Johnson sent on Harry Perritt for Sparkes in defence with 17 minutes to go.

Still County poured it on. It was their attack against United's defence, MacDonald saving again from Madden in a frazzled goalmouth, before Johnson acted again.

It was Wright for Armstrong in the 82nd minute, though play did not restart until Armstrong recovered from cramp enough to be helped off the pitch, followed by Lemonheigh-Evans for Lolos.

There was still more stoic defending for United to do as they hung grimly, with players from both sides going down with cramp related problems.

Referee Lee Collins rightly added on six minutes of stoppage-time for various incidents, Wright using his experience to win a couple of pressure-relieving free-kicks.

United spent most of it as they had the rest of the second half, in their own half. But, as the Plainmoor crowd cheered them home, still refused to crack.

Torquay United (4-3-1-2); MacDonald; Wynter, Lewis, Moxey, Martin; Sparkes (Perritt 73), Lapslie, Hall; Little; Armstrong (Wright 82), Lolos (Lemonheigh-Evfans 84) subs not used - Halstead, Felix.

Booked: None

Stockport County (3-5-2): Hinchcliffe; Keane (Minihan 62), Palmer, Kitching (Walker 88); Southam-Hales, Collar (Reid 62), Croasdale, Sarcvevic, Rydel; Crankshaw, Madden; subs not used - Barclay, Jennings.

Booked: Madden 23, Palmer 86.

Referee: Lee Collins (Surrey).

Attendance: 2,156 (260 Hatters fans).

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