Gulls seldom out of third gear as they gift victory to The Bluebirds

Ben Whitfield of Torquay United battles for the ball during the pre-season friendly against Chippen

Ben Whitfield of Torquay United battles for the ball during the pre-season friendly against Chippenham Town at Plainmoor. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

Torquay United 0 Chippenham Town 2

Two costly mistakes summed up a disjointed performance by Torquay United, who gifted National League South side Chippenham Town both goals in Plainmoor’s latest pre-season friendly.

The Gulls seldom got out of third gear and they also handed both goals, by Bradley Ash just before half-time and David Pratt in the 74th minute, rather on a plate.

United manager Gary Johnson had Asa Hall and Jake Andrews fit again, but on the bench, while Andrew Nelson was restored to partner Danny Wright up front.

And, in another experimental midfield, Olaf Koszela and Matt Buse filled ‘wing-back’ roles.

It took the Gulls a good 20 minutes to start exerting any real pressure.

Kyle Cameron met a Connor Lemonheigh-Evans corner from the left, but his downward header was comfortably saved under his bar by Will Puddy.

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United were just starting to play with some tempo, without finding a telling pass when it was needed, when Chippenham jolted them back.

Town had played with only former United forward Chris Zebroski up front, but plenty of support from midfield, and before half-time they forced Covolan into saves by Bradley Ash twice and then a top-drawer effort, low to his right, from a set-piece header by Alex Bray.

Covolan may have done his stuff then, but in the 42nd minute he dropped to his left to deal with a deflected shot by Town defender Spencer Hamilton.

Covolan’s parry fell nicely for Bray, who made no mistake with an angled shot... 0-1.

At the interval Johnson took off Nelson and Covolan and sent on Josh Umerah and Shaun MacDonald, and later Jake Andrews and Asa Hall for Buse and Koszela in the 64th minute.

Those outfield changes sparked some improvement, but just as had happened in the first half, when United seemed to be gaining some control, they shot themselves in the foot.

In the 74th minute Dean Moxey’s backheader wasn’t quite strong enough to find MacDonald, despite a dash off his line, and Town sub Pratt, on for Zebroski, nipped in to make it 2-0.

Andrews, bringing some much-needed quality, produced perhaps United’s best moment of the game in the 77th minute.

He whipped a free-kick over the wall and against the post - a terrific effort from only just outside the box.

Torquay United (3-5-2): Covolan (MacDonald 46); Wynter, Cameron, Moxey; Koszela (Hall 64), Whitfield, Nemane (Slough 78), Lemonheigh-Evans, Buse (Andrews 64); Nelson (Umerah 46), Wright; subs not used - Piper, Cadby, Bamforth, Edmondson.

Chippenham Town (4-5-1): Puddy (Hughes 85); Jones, Hamilton, Parselle, Tyler (Case 55); Russe, Stearn (Warre 72), Ash, Gunner, Bray (Hill 83); Zebroski (Pratt 55); subs not used - Bradbury, Golding.

Referee: Savvas Yianni (Weston-super-Mare).