Solihull Moors 3
(Osborne 6′, 44′, Hawkridge pen 9′)
Two goals from Jamey Osbourne and a penalty from Terry Hawkridge left The Gulls with a mountain to climb at half-time, and despite creating a number of chances late in the game, Torquay were unable to prevent a first National League defeat of the season.
Manager Gary Johnson made four changes to the United side that beat Boreham Wood on Saturday, with substitutes Ruairi Keating, Opi Edwards and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans replacing Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala, Jake Andrews and Manny Duku, whilst Joe Lewis made his debut at the expense of Frank Vincent.
United started the game well enough, and could have gone ahead in the second minute. Connor Lemonheigh-Evans beat a number of opponents before jinking his way into the box and setting up Jamie Reid, who fired off-target.
Just seven minutes later though, United were 2-0 down.
On 6 minutes, a loose ball was picked up on by Osborne, who proceeded to fire a 25-yard effort past MacDonald and into the net.
Then, in the 9th minute, Opi Edwards lost the ball in the right-back position, and as he attempted to win the ball back, brought down Jamie Reckford, leaving the referee with no choice but to signal a penalty kick. Hawkridge made no mistake with the kick and fired into the roof of the goal to double the advantage.
Reid was presented with an opportunity to reduce the arrears in the 15th minute, but after getting in behind The Moors’ defence, the United striker couldn’t apply the required finish.
The hosts were enjoying themselves at United’s expense in the early stages, with Torquay giving the ball away too easily on occasions.
It was left to Shaun MacDonald to save his side in the 23rd minute, as he produced a superb save to prevent Paul McCallum’s firm volley extending Solihull’s lead even further.
McCallum went close again twelve minutes later, as Reckford’s cross found the tall striker’s head, but thankfully the effort was off-target.
The pressure from the home side was non-stop, and it eventually told in the 44th minute, as Osbourne punished some hesitant defending by firing in his second goal of the evening to make it 3-0.
Johnson signalled his intent by making a double substitution just before the break, with Ruairi Keating and Edwards being replaced by Duku and Lumbombo-Kalala.
There were no immediate signs of improvement during the opening stages of the second period, as United set about reducing the deficit. In fact, it was the hosts who looked the likelier of the two sides to score the next goal.
The pressure on United’s backline was relentless, with McCallum a constant source of menace with his aerial prowess.
Try as they might, Torquay struggled to impose themselves on the game, as their opponents continued to restrict The Gulls to mimimal opportunities until the dying stages.
The travelling Yellow Army would have to wait until the 78th minute before threatening, as Reid’s cross found Lumbombo-Kalala in space, but just as the Frenchman was about to fire home, a timely block diverted the ball away.
Two minutes later, from a corner, Duku came within inches of pulling one back, with his header clipping the woodwork.
A disappointing evening for Johnson’s men was crowned in the 82nd minute, as Lemonheigh-Evans was brought down in the box and United were awarded a penalty.
Little’s effort wasn’t clinical enough though and Ryan Boot parried the ball away to compound United’s frustration.
Despite the convincing scoreline, Torquay will look back on a number of missed opportunities that could have changed the course of the game.
Bromley is the next destination for United on next Saturday, where they will look to bounce back at the first opportunity.
Solihull Moors: 1. Ryan Boot, 3. Jamie Reckford (10. Mitch Hancox, 78′), 4. Kyle Storer (c), 5. Liam Daly, 6. Alex Gudger, 7. Jamey Osborne (8. Darren Carter, 76′) 9. Paul McCallum (19. Danny Wright, 80′), 11. Terry Hawkridge, 13. Nathan Blissett, 22. Lee Vaughan, 24. Callum Howe. SUBS NOT USED: 2. Tyrone Williams, 23. Matt Stenson.
Yellow Card: Vaughan (73′)
TUFC: 1. Shaun MacDonald, 2. Ben Wynter, 4. Kyle Cameron 5. Jean-Yves Koue Niate 6. Joe Lewis (11. Jake Andrews, 63′), 7. Ruairi Keating (9. Manny Duku, 45′), 8. Asa Hall (c), 10. Armani Little, 12. Opi Edwards (20. Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala, 45′), 17. Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, 19. Jamie Reid. SUBS NOT USED: 14. Frank Vincent, 28. Lucas Covolan Cavagnari.
Yellow Card: Duku (47′), Niate (56′)
Attendance: 1,613 (unsegregated)