Greenwich Gull

A League 2 blog with an overwhelmingly pro-Torquay United bias

Darlington 1-3 Torquay – match report

This was an unconvincing performance from both teams in which few Torquay players impressed, played out in an almost deserted Northern Echo Arena. Despite finishing the game strongly, the Gulls were second best for long periods, particularly in the first half where Darlington were allowed to dominate both possession and chances. Torquay’s two first half goals came from our only two shots of the half, one at either end. Both came against the run of play – the opener saw Mark Ellis lash home from a poorly-cleared corner after a rare Torquay attack; the second a fine solo goal out of nowhere from Eunan O’Kane just before the interval.

At the back Guy Branston was immense, heading every ball forcefully upfield and generally looking purposeful and industrious – the team could do with someone similarly direct in the middle of the park. His defensive partner Mark Ellis also looked alert, making some key interceptions and deserving of his goal. Scott Bevan commanded his area well and was alive to the limited threat posed by Darlington’s attack, although could perhaps have held the ball in the scramble that led to the hosts’ goal. Overall though he looked confident and competent – he was by far the busier of the two ‘keepers but most of the Quakers’ shots were far from troublesome.

Torquay’s midfield was a huge disappointment – devoid of shape, discipline and above all imagination for much of the game. When Darlington advanced with the ball there was a clear lack of decisiveness and organisation about Torquay, allowing the hosts a freedom that only their woeful finishing and the aforementioned solidity of our central defence prevented them from capitalising on. The Gulls are sorely lacking a leader since the departure of Chris Hargreaves – a wise head with influence has to be a shopping priority for Buckle in the summer.

Player Report: Mustapha Carayol
Carayol’s performance interested me the most on Saturday. The Gambia-born midfielder has been a fringe player since joining the club, but is still only 20 and will hopefully develop into a menacing presence down the left given time. In his Gulls career so far I can’t say I’ve noticed him contribute much of note and I had no need to revise my opinion from his initial 10 minutes on the field, after coming on as a substitute early in the second half. However once Torquay’s midfield started playing with some cohesion his runs (both with and without the ball) began to test the Darlington defence. His most impressive surge forward carried him to the edge of the area, but with his head down he missed his chance to shoot and instead his desperate dribble across the 18 yard line ended with an abysmal shot. Just a few minutes later he made amends, bursting past his man to convert a cross with a classy finish from 12 yards for United’s third. He could have added a second at the death but shot narrowly over the bar. He’s definitely a player I want to stay at the club and surely deserving of consideration for a starting place in the weeks ahead.

Match Photos
This was taken shortly before kick off – 1,819 attendance in a ground built for 25,500!
A Gulls corner is drifted in to no avail.
The team applaud the travelling fans.


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