Torquay United 2 Maidenhead United 1

Asa Hall, Captain of Torquay United challenges for the aerial ball with Taye Ashby-Hammond, goalkeep

Asa Hall, Captain of Torquay United challenges for the aerial ball with Taye Ashby-Hammond, goalkeeper of Maidenhead United and scores but the goal is ruled out during the National League match between Torquay United and Maidenhead United at Plainmoor Torquay, Devon on Tuesday 8th December 2020 - PHOTO: Dave Crawford/PPAUK - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

The Gulls are record breakers

Goal celebrations for Danny Wright of Torquay United during the National League match between Torqua

Goal celebrations for Danny Wright of Torquay United during the National League match between Torquay United and Maidenhead United at Plainmoor Torquay, Devon on Tuesday 8th December 2020 - PHOTO: Dave Crawford/PPAUK - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

Torquay United’s record breaking start to the season continued as they opened up a five-point gap at the top of the National League with an astonishing tenth win in 12 games against Maidenhead United at Plainmoor.

Ben Whitfield’s fifth goal of the campaign on the stroke of half-time, from a sumptuous pass by captain and man of the match Asa Hall, set them on their way after they had done everything but score to that point.

Leading scorer Danny Wright headed his seventh goal in the 59th minute and, although Shaun Donnellan pulled a goal back in the 82nd minute, Gary Johnson’s unchanged Gulls never looked like giving up their lead.

Indeed, they deserved to have won more easily.

On a night when other results went for them, 31 points out of a possible 36 represents the best start in the club’s history – and in Johnson’s long managerial career.

Plainmoor fans can’t have seen few more one-sided halves than the first one last night. Maidenhead hardly had an attack worth the mention, let alone an attempt on or off goal.

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From the moment that Kyle Cameron had a header held by Taye Ashby-Hammond in the second minute, United’s pressure was relentless.

Danny Wright, Whitfield with a left-footer tipped over, Whitfield again, Wright, Aaron Nemane and Cameron all could or should have scored – all in the first 20 minutes.

How the ball stayed out in the 11th minute is a mystery, but Ashby-Hammond somehow managed to first claw a Cameron header off his bar and smothered the ball on his line from Wright.

Wright had a ‘goal’ disallowed for a foul on the keeper in the 34th – slightly harsh that one.

Hall fired inches wide, and it was starting to look as if the Gulls would have nothing to show for their dominance when they finally broke through in first-half stoppage time.

Hall produced a peach of a volleyed pass over the Maidenhead defence, Whitfield read it and coolly chipped the ball over the advancing Ashby-Hammond from ten yards… 1-0.

Ashby-Hammond had to pull out a brilliant double save to deny Connor Lemonheigh-Evans and Wright’s follow up early in the second half, before United stretched their lead in the 59th minute.

Adam Randell delivered a perfect diagonal cross from the left and Wright stooped across his marker to score with a trademark header… 2-0.

When Hall deflected a Nathan Blissett effort over the bar in the 61st minute, a terrific challenge, it was Maidenhead’s first shot on target.

As both teams made a series of changes, United appeared to be cruising to a comfortable victory – Wright, Whitfield and Lemonheigh-Evans all left to rousing ovations – until the last ten minutes.

Then MacDonald had to make a top save from Josh Smile’s 25-yarder, but he was beaten by Donnellan’s glancing near post header from a corner eight minutes from time… 2-1.

That goal might have sparked a frantic finale, but Torquay saw out the closing stages with a minimum of fuss.

In fact, Jake Andrews was unlucky not to restore the two-goal advantage that United deserved when his 20-yard free kick clipped the bar near the end.

Torquay United (4-4-1-1): MacDonald; Sherring, Kerr, Cameron, Andrews; Nemane, Hall, Randell, Whitfield (Buse 82); Lemonheigh-Evans (Waters 75); Wright (Umerah 69); subs not used – Covolan, Warren.

Booked: Lemonheigh-Evans 72.

Maidenhead United: Ashby-Hammond; Wiltshire, Parry, Sheckleford, Wells; Ince, Donnellan, Upward (Orsi-Dadamo 64), Addai (Smile 74); Barratt, Blissett; subs not used – Keetch, Ofori-Twumasi, Oluwayemi.

Booked: Parry 86.

Referee: Adrian Quelch (Oxon).