(Hall 25′, Reid 37′, Whitfield 71′, Keating 90+5′)
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United returned to form with a vengeance against Woking, as they secured an emphatic 4-1 victory at Plainmoor.
Summoning all their fighting spirit after falling behind to a Jake Hyde effort, Torquay responded through Asa Hall and Jamie Reid before the break. The Gulls continued to force the issue after the interval, and after Godfrey Poku was dismissed, United sealed a memorable win with further strikes from Ben Whitfield and Ruairi Keating.
With injuries once again hampering Gary Johnson’s selection options, there were six changes to the side which faced Yeovil on Boxing Day, with Shaun MacDonald, Ben Wynter, Matt Buse, Jake Andrews, Lloyd James and Jared Lewington replaced by Lucas Covolan, Joe Lewis, Jean-Yves Koue Niate, Aaron Nemane, Keating and Reid.
United began the match well, and created their first opportunity with only two minutes on the clock, as Robbie Cundy latched onto a Reid cross into the box. His shot though, was too close to Sam Howes in the visiting goal.
A Connor Lemonheigh-Evans corner found Keating unmarked at the back post soon after, however the Irishman directed his header over the bar.
It was therefore disappointing when The Cards took the lead against the run of play in the 12th minute. A deep Max Kretzschmar into the box saw Covolan beaten to his punch, with the ball making its way out onto the left, leaving Hyde with ample space to put his side in front.
Covolan made amends soon after to prevent his side going two down, as Hyde’s deflected effort appeared to be looping towards the top corner, before United’s Brazilian stopper re-adjusted magnificently to palm the ball round the post.
Not the start the Yellow Army wanted, but sensing that their side needed their backing more than ever, they remained behind the players all afternoon, and were rewarded with an equaliser on 25 minutes.
Nemane’s intelligent run down the right enabled the wideman to find the space to send a low cross into the box. The initial ball wasn’t a good one, however the second fell perfectly into the path of Hall, who, aided by a heavy deflection, steered his drive into the net.
With United on level terms, confidence in their ranks began to rise as they went in search of the lead. However, there was a let-off four minutes later when a ball in-behind sent Dave Tarpey clear, but the Woking striker dragged his shot narrowly wide of the far upright.
After creating a few half-chances, in the 37th minute Torquay took the lead.
Whitfield showed typical persistence and pace down the left, before cutting inside to fire in a shot. Another deflection saw the Woking ‘keeper scrambling across his line in a bid to parry the ball to safety, and although Howes just about got across to the first effort, leading scorer Reid gathered up the loose ball to fire home from close range.
Growing in stature as the half progressed, United’s devoted supporters rose to their feet at the interval to salute the team for a well earned, and well deserved, interval advantage.
Having turned the game on its head, it was always going to be crucial that Johnson’s side began the second period well, and they duly continued as they left off following the restart.
The Gulls were lively in attack and committed without the ball, never illustrated better than in the 52nd minute.
When Whitfield intercepted a dangerous Woking ball across United’s penalty area in a bid to launch a counter-attack, the repercussions left the winger needing treatment for a head injury and Godfrey Poku receiving his marching orders for the reckless challenge.
With the numerical advantage assisting their cause, Torquay went in search of a killer third goal, leaving their opponents to settle for brief forays on the break.
Half-chances came and went before United got the goal they deserved in the 71st minute.
Fine build-up play from the back ended with Reid sending in a delicious point-blank cross into the path of Whitfield, who couldn’t miss… 3-1.
Now in full charge and with the result no longer in doubt, The Gulls served up some delightful stuff in the closing stages, with Reid and Keating both going close to a fourth.
That goal did eventually arrive in injury time.
As Woking threw numbers forward in hope, more than expectation, Reid delivered a marvellous cross-field ball into the path of Keating. With Howes well outside his goal, there was still much to do for the United striker, however he finished superbly from distance to round off a wonderful performance from Johnson’s side.
With the matches continuing to come thick and fast, it’s another quick turnaround for Johnson and his side, with Yeovil Town visiting Plainmoor on New Years Day. Tickets are available here.
TUFC: 28. Lucas Covolan Cavagnari, 4. Kyle Cameron, 5. Jean-Yves Koue Niate, 6. Joe Lewis, 7. Ruairi Keating, 8. Asa Hall (c) (11. Jake Andrews, 64′) 17. Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, 19. Jamie Reid, 25. Robbie Cundy, 30. Aaron Nemane (29. Jared Lewington, 67′), 34. Ben Whitfield (27. Lloyd James, 79′). SUBS NOT USED: 13. Andy Collings, 18. Olaf Koszela.
Yellow Card: Lewis (11′), Keating (52′)
Woking: 1. Sam Howes, 2. Jack Cook, 5. Ben Gerring, 6. Moussa Diarra, 7. Dave Tarpey, 9. Jake Hyde, 10. Max Kretzschmar, 12. Nathan Collier (c) (11. Paul Hodges, 76′), 14. Godfrey Poku, 22. Jamar Lozar, 24. Jake Gray (8. Kane Ferdinand, 67′). SUBS NOT USED: 13. Craig Ross, 4. Manny Parry, 16. Shaun Donnellan,
Yellow Card: Gray (27′), Kretzschmar (32′), Howes (37′), Poku (45+1, 53′)
Red Card: Poku
Attendance: 2,895 (183 away)