Torquay United 3 Wrexham 1

Theo Vassell of Wrexham heads the ball off the line after Robert Lainton, Goalkeeper of Wrexham is

Theo Vassell of Wrexham heads the ball off the line after Robert Lainton, Goalkeeper of Wrexham is beaten during the National League match between Torquay United and Wrexham at Plainmoor Torquay, Devon on Saturday 5th Dec 2020 - PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK - Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Gulls maintain fine form in front of the Yellow Army

Tprquay United welcomed the fans back to Plainmoor with another wholehearted and thoroughly deserved victory over Wrexham – their ninth in 11 games – to retain the leadership of the National League.

The bitterly cold weather prompted a few season-ticket holders to stay at home and go for the TV streaming option, but the diehards were rewarded by a top of the table display from Gary Johnson’s men.

The Gulls, with Fraser Kerr making his first start in defence in place of Ben Wynter (hamstring), swept into a 2-0 lead with early goals by Ben Whitfield (5mins) and an Asa Hall penalty (17).

Wrexham hit back with a set-piece header by defender Theo Vassell only a minute after Hall’s spot kick.

The visitors made a big effort to equalise early in the second half, but another resilient defensive display, including one goal-saving tackle by Kyle Cameron and two crucial clearances by Jake Andrews, kept them at bay.

Livewire midfielder Connor Lemonheigh-Evans hit the all-important third goal in the 74th minute and Wrexham, who never stopped trying, could not come back a second time.

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United flew out of the traps, their switch-balls out to Whitfield on the left wing a feature of the play, and it paid off when a move between Hall and Lemonheigh-Evans set up Whitfield to beat his man, cut inside and hit a 20-yard shot inside the near post…1-0.

Wrexham could hardly draw breath before Hall’s volley from a half-cleared corner forced a ‘handball’ penalty and the Gulls skipper, taking over from Danny Wright after his miss at Halifax recently, slammed the spot-kick hard and straight into the roof of the net…2-0.

United disputed the Elliott Durrell corner which Vassell glanced down and in only a minute later.

Whitfield, Wright and Lemonheigh-Evans, who hit the post, all went close to a third goal before the interval, but so did Jake Bickerstaff for Wrexham, who recovered from their torrid start.

The Red Dragons, for whom ex-Gulls favourite Luke Young was well contained by Hall and Adam Randell in midfield, made a big effort after the restart, but they were restricted to few real chances.

United would not crack during that spell – Sherring, Kerr, Cameron and Andrews all in fine form at the back – and Whitfield and Lemonheigh-Evans nearly stretched the lead before referee Scott Simpson also turned down what looked like a strong penalty shout for a challenge on Randell.

The game was certainly not safe until that third goal went in and, after a near-miss by Wrexham’s Jamie Reckord and those key defensive plays by Cameron and Andrews, it finally came from a counter attack 16 minutes from time.

Aaron Nemane and Whitfield combined on the left to leave Lemonheigh-Evans with a chance he took coolly…3-1.

Torquay United (4-4-1-1):MacDonald; Sherring, Kerr (Buse 90), Cameron, Andrews; Nemane, Hall, Randell, Whitfield; Lemonheigh-Evans (Waters 76); Wright (Umerah 50); subs not used – Covolan, Warren.

Booked: MacDonald 76.

Wrexham (4-4-2): Dibble; Horsfield, Kelleher, Vassell, Reckord; Rutherford, Young, Harris, Durrell; Bickerstaffe (Jeffrey 55), Thomas (Yussuf 40); subs not used – Hall-Johnson, Jarvis, Davies.

Booked: Horsfield 10.

Referee: Scott Simpson (Staffs).

Attendace: 975.