Torquay United manager Gary Johnson - Credit: Thousand Word Media Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

TUFC: Johnson praises defence after winning clean sheet against Exeter City

Dave Thomas

After conceding five goals against Plymouth Argyle in midweek, manager Gary Johnson was quick to praise the same defence after Torquay United had kept a winning 'clean sheet' to beat the Pilgrims' new League One rivals Exeter City 1-0 at Plainmoor.

The Gulls dominated the first half-hour and finished their fifth friendly strongly, with Brett McGavin's 81st minute volley through a crowded goalmouth sending most of a 2,634 crowd home happy.

But just before half-time and for much of the second half, the Grecans were on top.

Torquay would not have won without an outstanding display from goalkeeper Mark Halstead, ably assisted by his centre-backs Ross Marshall, Al Omar and Dean Moxey, as classy as ever against his former club.

"Mark did his job when they had their chances - I'm pleased for him," said Johnson, a reference to the criticism which Halstead received from some quarters after the 5-0 defeat to Plymouth.

"But I'm pleased for everyone. They had a good spell in the second half, and we had to hang in there. Some of the other lads produced some great blocks.

"I said last week that we will get better and, against a team the same level (as Plymouth), we get a different result. We beat a good team."

United introduced one trialist at half-time. Johnson was pleased with him too and, although he declined to identify the player afterwards, there is widespread speculation that it was Ben Wyatt, 26, the former Sutton United attacking left-back.

The result was an important one psychologically for United, whose last practice match, after an in-house game at Plainmoor next Friday, is at Truro City on Saturday (July 30).

It wasn't quite a full-blown Devon derby of old, but it wasn't far off it, with the players responding to a lively atmosphere.

Younger fans from both sides taunted each other throughout, but proactive policing and stewardship prevented any trouble inside the ground.