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Torquay United 5
(Reid 5′, 45’+8, Janneh 15′, 45’+1, Kalala 57′)
Dulwich Hamlet 2
(Akinyemi 66′, Green 69′)
First-half braces from strikers Jamie Reid and Saikou Janneh, plus a second-half Kalvin Kalala effort put the Gulls firmly in charge, before goals from Hamlet’s Akinyemi and Green added a degree of respectability to the scoreline.
Following their defeat away to Welling United last Saturday, United made two changes, one enforced, with KalKalala replacing Ruairi Keating on the right wing and Jean Yves Koue-Niate replacing the suspended Kyle Cameron at centre-back. Olaf Koszela took up the resultant place on the substitutes bench.
As with some many times this season, United began the game on the front foot, and they took the lead inside five minues. Following some excellent work down the left, Reid was presented with the ball just left of the penalty spot. His low drive was directed a bit too close to the giant Jorgensen in the Dulwich goal, but to the Yellow Army’s delight, the ball slipped through his grasp and into the net.
It was just the start that manager Gary Johnson would have wanted for his side and ten minutes later, it got even better. Conor Lemonheigh-Evans and Kalala combined wonderfully to feed Janneh, who fired home from close range to make it two.
United were at their sensational best, and were only knocked out of their stride following a change in match officials. Following an injury to one of the assistant referees, an appeal for a replacement amongst the crowd rang out across Plainmoor’s PA system. Thankfully, a level one referee was in the crowd to duly answer the call, and after a delay of nearly ten minutes, play restarted.
It took the Gulls a little while to find their rhythm again after the break, although Janneh so nearly made it three after rounding Jorgensen, but the ball broke kindly to the Dulwich defenders and the danger was cleared.
As the game entered nine minutes of injury time, some superb trickery from Kalala fed Reid, who fired just off-target. There would though, be no more let-offs for Hamlet as the lead was extended moments later.
Just as before, Janneh beat the offside trap on a Lemonheigh-Evans through-ball, and this time rounded the keeper to make it 3-0.
Despite their comfortable lead, United continued to press, and following a corner, Jamie Sendles-White showed some neat trickery which was ended abruptly by the covering Hamlet defender. The referee, well placed, pointed straight to the spot. After missing their last two penalties, it was a perfect situation for United to banish that memory. Reid made no mistake by firing the ball low and hard to the keeper’s left for his 24th goal of the season.
4-0 at the interval, and not for the first time this season, Plainmoor stood as one to applaud an excellent first-half showing by Johnson’s men.
The visitors started the second half in committed fashion, with United’s frontmen not afforded the same amount of space the were accustomed to in the first 45.
United had to wait until the 57th minute before bagging their fifth goal, and it had a stroke of fortune about it. There was nothing lucky about the way Torquay moved the ball majestically to find Kalala in space, but the winger’s low effort appeared to be rolling safely into the goalkeeper’s hands, before trickling over the goal-line.
The Plainmoor faithful were being royally entertained once again, but just when it looked like their side would go on to punish their beleaguered opponents even more, the South Londoners found a response to reward their 117-strong travelling support.
On 66 minutes, Liam Davis got into some difficulty with Hamlet substitute Akinyemi inside the box, and following a clumsy challenge, the referee signalled a spot-kick. Akinyemi picked himself to send MacDonald the wrong way and get his side on the scoresheet… 5-1.
Three minutes later, a mix-up in the United defence allowed Green to get in behind the Gulls’ backline, and he slotted into the net calmly to reduce the arrears further.
From a position of supreme authority, Torquay had allowed the visitors to help themselves to two goals with very little warning.
The remaining 20 minutes saw the action move from end to end – two fine saves from Jorgensen denied Reid, either side of Clunis heading against the post for Hamlet.
With United’s game finishing a good ten minutes behind games elsewhere, their fans were already aware that Woking’s defeat at Dartford had enabled Johnson’s men to reclaim their place at the summit. The final whistle confirmed an excellent afternoon’s work for the Gulls.
Torquay though, have plenty of work still to do, and thoughts now turn to East Thurrock on Tuesday night as Johnson’s men look to follow up another dramatic afternoon in the National League South title race.
TUFC: MacDonald, Wynter, Davis (Dickson 83), Sendles-White, Hall (c), Janneh, Lemonheigh-Evans, Niate, Andrews (Keating 63), Reid, Kalala (Vincent 71) SUBS: Koszela, Burton
Bookings: Andrews, 45+3
Dulwich Hamlet: Jorgensen, Cook (Vose 18), Mascoll, Taylor, Okonghae (Rich-Baghuelou 45), Chambers, Clunis, Tajbakhsh, Thompson (Akinyemi 45), Wanadio, Green. SUBS: Ferguson, Pryce
Bookings: Mascoll, 19
Attendance: 2,655 (117 away)