Gulls punished for Jekyll-and-Hyde performance

Goal celebrations for Sam Sherring. Photo: Micah Crook/PPAUK

Goal celebrations for Sam Sherring. Photo: Micah Crook/PPAUK - Credit: Micah Crook/PPAUK


Well on top at half-time and deservedly ahead through Sam Sherrings’ 25th minute header, Torquay United were punished for a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance in defeat by Eastleigh at the Silverlake Stadium last night.

Two goals in the space of nine minutes late in the second half, both by young ex-Reading striker Ben House, confirmed Eastleigh’s comeback which sees them top the National League table with six points from their first two games.

It was a complete turnaround after a first half which Gary Johnson’s Gulls dominated without putting themselves out of sight.

Gulls goalie Lucas Covolan had to make a double-save from Abdulai Baggie in the eleventh minute, and one Eastleigh set-piece flew across the face of goal, but that was just about it as far as the hosts’ attacking threat went in the first half.

United’s one change - Asa Hall back into midfield, allowing Aaron Nemane to take Matt Buse’s place at right wing-back - worked as well, if not better than Johnson could have hoped.

United played with a tempo, aggression and intent which rocked Eastleigh back on their heels in those first 45 minutes.

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Hall twice, Ben Wynter after a slick one-two with Danny Wright, Jake Andrews and Ben Whitfield all went close either side of AFC Bournemouth loanee Sherring’s glancing near-post header from a Connor Lemonheigh-Evans corner.

Nearly everything that had been missing in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Stockport County was present in United’s first-half performance. But that was as good as it got.

Eastleigh upped their game, United fell away.

Ben Whitfield was lucky not to concede a penalty when he appeared to clip Sam Smart from behind in the 65th minute.

But right-winger Smart was to have the last laugh - he was a constant threat throughout the second half.

Baggie nearly forced the ball home in the 71st minute, moments before a mistake on the ball by Whitfield lost possession and set up House’s equaliser with a low diagonal shot across Covolan and into the bottom left-hand corner.

And in the 82nd minute it was Smart, unmarked on the right, who whipped in a low cross for House to win it with a diving header at the near-post.

That first-half United show was a distant memory by then.

Eastleigh (4-4-2): McConnell; Partington, Wynter, Boyce, Tomlinson (Green 67); Smart, Miley, Payne, Baggie (Smith 84); House, Barnett (Hollands 86); subs not used - Bird, Bearwish.

Torquay United (3-5-2): Covolan; Wynter, Sherring, Cameron; Nemane, Lemonheigh-Evans (Randell 60), Hall (Buse 69), Andrews, Whitfield; Umerah (Britton 69), Wright; subs not used - Koszela, MacDonald.

Booked: Nemane 87

Referee: Ryan Atkin (London)