TUFC: Tense victory over struggling King's Lynn

Torbay Weekly

KING'S LYNN TOWN 2 - TORQUAY UNITED 3

Two first-half goals by centre-forward Danny Wright, his fourth and fifth of the season, and a first senior strike by on-loan midfielder Stephen Duke-McKenna gave Torquay United a tense victory over struggling King's Lynn Town at The Walks - and cheered absent manager Gary Johnson in the process.

The Gulls, who have now won eight and lost only two of their last 15 National League games, led 2-0 and 3-1 with Duke-McKenna's goal just after half-time, only for Cameron Hargreaves and Brett McGavin to reply for the Linnets.

United could never quite quell the spirited hosts, who kept going to the end of seven minutes of stoppage-time, and they needed another impressive display by Shaun MacDonald in goal to move to within eight points of the Play-Offs with 12 games to go.

Johnson was laid low by a bug, but he will have been cheered by some of his team's counter-attacking play and their commitment under pressure in that second half.

Armani Little, who limped off against Bromley (0-0) last week, had recovered to keep his place as captain in midfield.

Johnson was also able to recall Asa Hall, Dan Martin and Dan Holman after their injuries, but he kept all those back on the bench and made just one change to the starting XI - Ali Omar for the suspended Joe Lewis at centre-back.

Striker Klaidi Lolos was not involved.

United looked the better side from the start, with Little putting in an influential shift.

The Linnets left enough space in behind their defence for the Gulls to exploit, and only a couple of tight offside decisions, one on a delightful pass by Duke-McKenna to Wright, kept Torquay out.

They should have scored in the 13th minute, when Wright headed on a Dean Moxey free-kick and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans volleyed over from eight yards when he looked certain to score.

The Gulls should have made more of another chance, when Wright headed a Little free-kick across the face of goal.

Not for the first time, United nearly paid for not turning pressure into goals, with Lynn left-winger Josh Barrett the main threat.

He had a run and shot deflected behind and then, in the 26th minute, Barrett sent a free-kick just over the bar from 22 yards after Hargreaves, son of ex-United manager Chris Hargreaves, had been fouled.

Michael Clunan also shot wide from a knockdown by centre-forward Gold Omotayo.

So, it was timely when United reasserted themselves with a goal on the half-hour.

Moxey launched one of his long throws from the left, and Wright was there at the near post to flick the ball past former Exeter City goalie Paul Jones, 35.

Torquay, looking dangerous every time they countered, nearly extended their lead through Little, after a lovely one-two move between him and Lemonheigh-Evans.

And in the 35th minute they did score again.

Little broke up a Lynn move in midfield, spread the ball wide to Lemonheigh-Evans, he moved it quickly to Wright, who slid a precision shot across Jones and into the bottom right-hand corner…2-0.

United should have tightened their grip on the game from that point, but they didn't.

Wearne and Lemonheigh-Evans both had chances, but the Linnets responded well.

MacDonald had to pull out an excellent save to deny Barrett, Linton missed a chance on a Michael Clunan cross and in the first of three minutes' stoppage-time, Lynn pulled a goal back.

Hargreaves sent in a cross-shot from the right, Linton tried to force the ball home, but it went in anyway, apparently without a final touch…2-1.

It was a disappointing way for United to end the first half, but they quickly brushed off that setback.

In the 52nd minute, from a pitch-length move between Moxey and Little down the left, Duke-McKenna was there making ground at the far post to finish off Little's cross well…3-1.

Again, United could not consolidate.

Only five minutes later, from another pass by dangerman Barrett on the left, McGavin hit a peach of a drive into the top right-hand corner from 25 yards, MacDonald beaten by the swerve on the shot…3-2.

It was a clear, crisp day, but the temperature immediately went up sharply, with a series of off-the-ball spats which finally saw referee Johnson caution Ben Wynter and Linton.

Lynn boss Tommy Widdrington did not want to see Linton in any more trouble, so he replaced him with Connor Kurran-Browne in attack.

It had turned into a right old scrap, with neither side able to keep the ball for any length of time, but they did keep working hard, before and after Dan Holman replaced Wearne, Lemonheigh-Evans dropping back into midfield.

But it was still the hosts who looked more like scoring again, and it was MacDonald who stopped them doing it.

He tipped one Barrett free-kick over his bar and, in the 80th minute, did even better with a terrific stop to deny Kurran-Browne.

Chiori Johnson also went into the book as United manned the barricades, and all the second-half stoppages prompted seven minutes of stoppage-time.

MacDonald took the 'game management' too far and also saw yellow, but he had the last word, blocking Omotayo's 97th minute shot just as Wynter arrived to challenge.

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King's Lynn Town (4-4-2): P. Jones; Barrows, A. Jones, Coulson, Hickman (Sundire 70); McGavin (Charles 75), Hargreaves, Clunan, Barrett; Linton (Kurran-Browne 62), Omotayo; subs not used - Fernandez, Walker.

Booked: Linton 60.

Torquay United (4-4-1-1): MacDonald; , Johnson, Wynter, Omar, Moxey; Duke-McKenna, Little, Lapslie, Wearne (Holman 72); Lemonheigh-Evans; Wright; subs not used - Halstead (gk), Martin, Hall, O'Connell.

Booked: Wynter 60, Johnson 81.

Referee: Paul Johnson (Surrey).

First-half goals by Lewis Brookes, Callum Thomas and Theo Cadby gave United's Under-18 side a deserved 3-2 win over title rivals Bridgwater United in the SW Counties Youth League at South Devon College.

The young Gulls gave one of their best performances of the season in a key match and could easily have won more comfortably.

Cadby hit the post and the Bridgwater goalkeeper had to pull off a series of outstanding saves to keep United out in the second half.

The result means that the young Gulls, who also meet Plymouth Parkway in the Devon Youth Cup Semi-Finals at SDC on Sunday (3.30pm), now need only a point to clinch the league title.

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