Plainmoor, the home of Torquay United FC - Credit: andrew payne / Alamy Stock Photo

TUFC: Temperatures and tempers flare at pre-season friendly

Dave Thomas

Things got pretty heated at Plainmoor, as Torquay United held League Two Newport County to a goalless draw, and it wasn't only the weather that saw temperatures rise in what was supposed to be a 'friendly'.

Gary Johnson's Gulls, featuring several new signings for the first time, gave at least as good as they got in draining conditions, and the Ambers certainly knew they were in a game from first to last minute.

But the encounter was punctuated by the protests of County manager James Rowberry and his staff, as they repeatedly took exception to a robust, but never dirty, performance by United.

There may have been no goals, but it all made for a lively afternoon in the sun as Torquay continued their unbeaten pre-season - still without conceding a goal.

Even without the injured Dan Martin - Asa Hall and Tom Lapslie didn't play either - Johnson stuck with a 3-5-2 formation, with Kieron Evans in Martin's left wing-back role and Dylan Crowe on the right.

United had plenty of promising possession and pressure before the first drinks break, which came at 24 minutes.

On the back foot most of the time, Newport did break out and nearly scored when a good tackle by Ross Marshall just put ex-Exeter striker Offrande Zanzala off as he was shooting on a through-ball - the effort went wide.

Adam Lewis also went close with a 25-yard free-kick.

United were in competitive mood, and referee Marc Whaley pulled them up several times.

But you'd have thought, from Rowberry's reactions, that it was a pitched-battle, when a succession of challenges actually looked worse than they really were.

Nobody put themselves about more than Marshall in defence and Aaron Jarvis up front, but the Gulls still didn't seriously test County goalie Joe Day in the first 45 minutes.

Indeed, it was Mark Halstead who pulled out the save of the first half - a diving tipover his bar after Adam Lewis cut in from the left and shot on target just before the interval.

Mr Whaley's patience ran out, when he booked County's Declan Drysdale for a tug-back on Andrews just after the restart, and Marshall held his head in frustration after flicking McGavin's subsequent free-kick over the bar when he felt he should have done better.

Marshall and McGavin both did well to recover from knocks, and United were starting to crank up the pressure again when Johnson took them off and also Andrews with half-an-hour to go.

Olaf Koszela replaced Andrews, but it was Evans who joined Jarvis up front and Koszela who took over at left wing-back.

Koszela was restored to his usual striking role after further changes.

It took another full-length save by Day to deny a rasping drive by Jarvis, set up by Evans, in the 66th minute, but as the game started to open up, Halstead also did well to tip an Omar Bogle shot over his bar after Bogle's first free-kick effort had hit the United 'wall'.

United continued to compete for every ball in the closing stages, and Mr Whaley booked both Dylan Crowe and then sub Alex Moyse for an aerial challenge, even though he gave no free-kick.

It was still Torquay who were pressing hard for a winner at the end, but there was no 'Gary-Time' winner this time.


Torquay United (3-5-2): Halstead; Marshall (Tomlinson 62), Omar, Moxey (Quinn 90); Crowe, Donnellan (Winsor 80), Hanson (Moyse 74), McGavin (Trialist 62), Evans; Jarvis (Thomas 74), Andrews (Koszela 62).

Booked: Crowe 69.

Newport County: Norman; Norman, Lewis, Demetriou, Clarke; Drysdale, Bennett, Bowen, Wildig; Bogle, Zanzala.

Booked: Drysdale 48.

Referee: Marc Whaley (Plymouth).

Attendance: 1,062 (180 County fans).