Gulls go for the jugular in victory over Dover
- Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
Chief sports writier Dave Thomas’ match report from Plainmoor:
TORQUAY UNITED 2 DOVER ATHLETIC 0
No Gary-time’ needed here - Torquay United surged to the top of the National League, ahead of Stockport County’s evening game at Chesterfield, with a victory over Dover Athletic that was far easier than the scoreline suggested at Plainmoor.
Captain defender Kyle Cameron came up with two headers to clinch all three points on a day when Gary Johnson’s Gulls hit the woodwork three times and missed a stack of chances to put the visitors to the sword.
It was still a convincing effort by United, full of classy individual performances .
Cameron earned the man-of-the-match award, but there were plenty of other candidates, including Dean Moxey at left-back, Adam Randell in midfield and Ben Whitfield on the left wing.
The result was also founded on United’s prodigious work-rate, without the ball as well as with it it.
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Dover, with five changes from their 0-5 home defeat by Aldershot in midweek, were duly up for it in the early stages, and they showed ambition in attack, with Steven Rigg and Thomas Bramble lively.
They nearly took the lead in the 21st minute, when a Rigg cross flew across the face of goal, Ahkeem Rose inches away from finishing it.
But by that stage United had started to stretch them, with Whitfield picking up where he left off in Tuesday’s last-gasp 2-1 win over Chesterfield.
Bramble did well to head a Cameron effort over his own bar, Louis Britton was just off target on a Whitfield cross and Danny Wright had a shot deflected behind from Aaron Neman’s pass.
The growing pressure told in the 26th minute.
Britton chased Connor Lemonheigh-Evans’ left-wing corner beyond the far post, did well under pressure to drive a low cross-shot to the near-post, where goalie Yusuf Mersin could only parry the ball - Cameron was there to nod home from close-range... 1-0.
It was the signal for the Gulls to go for the jugular.
Nemane had a shot deflected onto the post, a raking Cameron-Wright move set Britton up for a shot inches wide and in the 44th minute that important second goal arrived.
Wright did well to chase a not-quite-lost cause and force a corner on the left, and Cameron got first run on his marker to head Lemonheigh-Evans’ flag-kick into the net... 2-0.
Dover were lucky not to concede a third goal in first-half stoppage-time - Randell’s brilliant 25-yard free-kick whipped up and over the wall, and it took an equally good fingertip save by Mersin to keep it out.
How United didn’t score three or four in the second half is a mystery.
Nemane hit the post when it looked easier to score in the 53rd minute, after one of many slick Whitfield-Moxey moves.
Britton, denied only by a great block from Spencer-Adams, Wright, Randell with a dipping 30-yarder, sub Gary Warren and Sam Sherring all could have stretched the lead.
Mersin appeared to tip Sherring’s header against the post and then smothered the rebound at the feet of Warren.
Covolan, virtually a ‘sweeper’ at times, never put a foot wrong in United’s goal, and he did have to pull out one top-class save, low to his left, to tip a Jack Munns shot round the post in the 75th minute.
It was only a punctuation-mark in the story of United’s domination on a day when goal-difference was the only box that United did not tick.
Torquay United (4-4-2): Covolan; Wynter, Sherring, Cameron, Moxey (Andrws 78); Nemane (Warren 78), Randell, Lemonheigh-Evans, Whitfield; Britton (Hall 70), Wright; subs not used - MacDonald (gk), Koszela.
Booked: Warren 88.
Dover Athletic (4-4-2): Mersin; Passley (Wratten 92), Gobern, Spencer-Adams, Wood; Bramble, De Havilland, Cumberbatch (Hinchiri 85), Munns; Rigg, Rose (Collins 63); subs not used - Bexon (gk), Moses.
Booked: Spencer-Adams 80.
Referee: Scott Tallis (Cambs)