A terrific result for Torquay United in the second Devon Derby of the season, meaning the double over their rivals Argyle.
United started with the same team as against Oxford, except for Bodin (back from suspension) coming in to replace Morris (freshly on suspension).
In truth Argyle probably had the better of the first half, although the best chances fell to United, with a couple of headers well-saved.
The second half started fairly evenly but then Torquay started to get into gear, and scored twice in five minutes to really swing the game in their favour. The first was a good finish from a free kick by Billy Bodin after a nod down by Chris Robertson, the second an equally good finish by Lee Mansell after good work down the left between Nicholson and O’Kane. Some intricate passing following short throw-in resulted in Stevens finding Mansell excellently in space in the area, who slotted into the corner of the net.
Argyle pulled one back with a well worked headed goal, but the Torquay defence held strong to hold out for the win.
Torquay’s back line is playing terrifically well at the moment. The back five of Olejnik, Oastler, Ellis, Robertson and Nicholson rarely looks like conceding, and if Torquay get a lead, you can be quite confident of keeping the points. Nothing personal against him but I am concerned that Brian Saah’s return could affect this. Saah is a decent player, but I hope Martin Ling, whilst this run continues, knows when he is onto a good thing.
The displays going forward over Xmas have not been outstanding overall displays. We have missed Rene Howe up front, and the defence’s solidity has earned us the points. But the best chances for Torquay (Mansell’s goal today, Morris’ chance against Oxford among them) have come when we get the ball down and play, which the team are well capable of doing. We have some good ball players in the team – O’Kane, Stevens, Nicholson the standouts – and we should mould our style of play to suit them better.
Joe Oastler – my new star
Whilst most plaudits are going to O’Kane (deservedly), I have to give a mention to Joe Oastler, who has been excellent this season. The first few games I was unsure about him. He was being regularly skinned and caught out of position (especially away to Bristol Rovers). But he has been one of the best, most consistent performers of late, does not put a foot wrong, and has talent going forward. I know, like O’Kane, that he has dropped down from the youth system of a better club, but I think his future lies further up the leagues.