Torquay United 2 Yeovil Town 0
It was a rattling good game by any standards, even as it seemed to be heading for a goalless draw, but Alan Knill’s Torquay United scored twice in the last ten minutes to earn a 2-0 win which should do their confidence a power of good.
Yeovil Town dominated the Plainmoor friendly for long periods and should have taken the lead before Gulls substitutes Jordan Chapell and Danny Sullivan rewarded United’s gutsy display by scoring in the 83rd and 93rd minutes.
United had introduced former loan striker Scott Rendell, on trial from Luton Town, to partner his old Plainmoor team-mate Elliot Benyon in attack.
But it was in the closing stages, after Knill made a series of changes and took both Rendell and Benyon off, that United’s earlier resolution finally paid off.
Knill introduced trialists Rendell in attack and ex-Portsmouth and AFC Bournemouth defender Shaun Cooper at centre-back.
But even with the presence of new signing Ben Harding in midfield and Rendell up front, United were no match physically for Yeovil, led by towering targetman Michael Ngoo.
The Championship may demand extra quality, but it is no place for wimps either and the Glovers should not struggle on that score.
The combination of Ngoo and Paddy Madden was a constant threat for Johnson’s side.
They signalled their intent as early as the sixth minute, when United centre-half Aaron Downes had to throw himself full-length to block a goalbound drive by Ngoo, after a slick move between Joe Edwards and Kevin Dawson down the right wing.
The pick of United’s attack was new winger Courtney Cameron, who was always willing to run at opponents at pace and often had too much for them.
In the space of a couple of minutes Cameron set up Billy Bodin to beat Nana Ofori but shoot disappointingly wide, and then Cameron shook off two markers on the right before firing off target.
With the temperature still hovering around the 80F mark, North Devon referee Brett Huxtable called a drinks break after 25 minutes – a sensible concession to the conditions and the friendly occasion.
But for United the interruption only signalled a period of sustained Yeovil pressure.
It wasn’t as if the Gulls were out of it, far from it, but the Glovers – who included former Exeter City and Derby County centre back Danny Seaborne on trial – simply had too much power and pace, and only some never-say-die defending kept Torquay on terms.
Madden headed wide at full-stretch on a Foley cross, Foley hit the post with a 15-yard volley and in the 32nd minute Dale Tonge headed off his own line from a Byron Webster header.
Martin Rice also dived low to smother a shot from the always-busy Madden.
United were doing well to hang on all right, but they were working hard enough to deserve it, and in the 42nd minute they nearly snatched an unlikely lead.
Cameron and Bodin both had shots blocked before the ball dropped to Elliot Benyon, who unleashed a drive which Marek Stech did well to parry.
Cameron rounded off a first half full of good things by cutting in from the right wing, swapping passes with Benyon and shooting not far wide from the edge of the area.
But it was Yeovil who emphasised the pecking order in stoppage time, forcing Rice to excellent saves from Dawson and the mightily impressive Ngoo. Dawson gave United left-back Cruise problems all evening and, after forcing Rice to two more smart saves, Town’s right winger deserved to create the opening goal in the 51st minute.
Only a crucial hook clearance by Cooper, with his back to goal, stopped Dawson’s cross reaching Ngoo just outside the six-yard box.
Rice, deputising for the injured Michael Poke, kept up a high level of performance with an excellent stop from Madden, after a Lee Mansell mistake let the striker in.
The changes came thick and fast in the 58th minute, with eight substitutions spread across the two teams, Rendell for United and Ngoo for Town among the departees.
It was one big man for another in Yeovil’s attack, for South Devonian Kieffer Moore is just as big as Ngoo.
Damon Lathrope and Nathan Craig also replaced Harding and Mansell in United’s midfield six minutes later.
Still the Gulls managed to keep Yeovil out, and in the 70th minute they created a half-chance.
Nicholson, Craig, Lathrope and Jordan Chapell were all involved before Benyon’s final glancing header was saved by Stech.
Knill’s changes had introduced fresh urgency into his side, and they went close through Lathrope, McKenzie and Thompson as they forced Yeovil back for the first time in the match.
Then, in the 83rd minute, United were offered a real chance – and took it.
Webster were in no real trouble on a long through-ball by Nicholson, but he suddenly tripped over his own feet, Chapell was in and fired coolly past the advancing Stech to make it 1-0. And if that wasn’t enough Sullivan cleverly beat Stech to make it two in stoppage-time after good work by Yeoman.
Torquay United (4-4-2): Rice; Tonge (Hutchings 84), Cooper, Downes (McKenzie 76), Cruise (Nicholson 58); Cameron (Chapell 58), Mansell (Craig 64), Harding (Lathrope 64), Bodin (N Thompson 76); Benyon (Sullivan 76), Rendell (Yeoman 58). Substitute (not used): C Thompson (gk).
Yeovil Town (4-4-2): Stech; Ayling (Young 86), Seaborne, Webster (Jones 86), Ofori; Dawson (Grant 58), Edwards (Konadu 58), Upson (Clifford 58), Foley (Hoskins 58); Ngoo (Moore 58), Madden. Substitute (not used): Stewart (gk).
Referee: Brett Huxtable.