Premier Stars Stunned as Gulls BEAT West Brom
Torquay United 2 – 1 West Bromwich Albion
Kevin Nicholson’s first pre-season campaign came to an end on Monday night with a fantastic victory against Premiership outfit West Bromwich Albion, goals from substitutes Callum Hall (52) and Brett Williams (59) giving the Gulls a well fought win… writes SSD’s Matt Green.
It had been a few interesting days off the pitch following Friday night’s draw with Bath, with the confirmation that the proposed sale of the club to Gaming International had fallen through and the statement from the chairman reiterating the need for a cash injection to help United survive. Also off the pitch, there was still no confirmation about the imminent sale of club captain Angus MacDonald to Barnsley; however, the club expects the deal to be completed on Tuesday.
On the pitch, Nicholson mixed his starting eleven up, Jamie Reid, Sam Chaney and Charlie Duke all getting starts, while Luke Young, Courtney Richards, Brett Williams and Sean McGinty were on the bench. There was also the inclusion of Ronald Huth in the centre back position, the player on trail as Nicholson looks for a replacement for MacDonald.
West Brom, as expected, moved the ball well throughout the first half, showing their Premiership class but, as with many of their games, the goal-scoring chances did not come from their possession and it wasn’t until the 35th minute that Jonathan Leko tested Brendan Moore with the United keeper tipping the effort over for a corner. United had started well with Chaney testing former England goalkeeper Ben Foster in the third minute and then Dan Sparkes having an effort that he should have done better with in the 26th minute. Torquay’s Huth then brought the ball out of defence and played a nice ball to Aman Verma before receiving the ball back and trying his luck from 30 yards.
Nicholson made ten changes at the break with only Huth retaining his position. WBA manager Tony Pulis also made changes at half time, introducing star names such as striker Saido Berahino (possibly one of his final appearances for the club), Swedish international defender Jonas Olsson and experienced former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher. But it was Torquay’s new-look side that took the lead in the 52nd minute when substitute Callum Hall, on trial from Bath City, beat Foster from 25 yards with a rasping strike that stung the West Brom man’s fingers before finding the back of the net. Seven minutes later, the Gulls supporters had further reason to celebrate when another substitute, Brett Williams, turned Craig Dawson just inside the Albion half, in the 59th minute, before running through and firing the ball low past Foster to give the Gulls a 2-0 lead. Nicholson’s men then showed some resolute defending, keeping a number of Albion chances at bay. Berahino, Matt Phillips and Dawson all going close and testing United’s reserve keeper – and Gibraltar Number One – Jamie Robba. The Baggies did get back into the fixture in the 81st minute, Fletcher’s long diagonal ball picking out Phillips on the edge of the area. The forward showed some neat control before calmly finishing with his right foot. A minute later Berahino should have levelled proceedings but Robba saved well with his legs. The forward did find the net in the 83rd minute but his effort was ruled out for offside. The visitors continued to pressurise the United team but some inspired performances kept the home side in front. With the clock ticking closer to full time, James Morrison missed from six yards and Kane Wilson tried his luck from a tight angle. But with only one minute of stoppage time to play, Nicholson’s men hung on for a night to remember for all inside Plainmoor.
Following the game, the United manager said he was pleased with his side’s efforts but reminded the players that this was only the end of pre-season and they had achieved nothing yet. “The lads worked really hard tonight but that’s the end of that and now the real stuff starts,” Nicholson added.
The new league campaign for United gets underway on Saturday with an away fixture against Macclesfield (3pm) before home fixtures on Tuesday night against Bromley (7.45pm) and Barrow, a week on Saturday (3pm). See our TUFC fixtures page for more details.
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TUFC: Moore (Robba 45), Verma (Hancox 45), Huth, Gerring (McGinty 45), Nicholson (Hall 45), Reid (Chamberlain 45), Lathrope (Young 45), Chaney (Scrivens 45), Sparkes (Kelly 45/Mitchell 76), Blissett (Williams 45), Duke (Richards 45).
WBA: Foster, Chester, McAuley (Dawson 45), Evans (Olsson 45), Wilson, Gardner, Field (Phillips 68), Morrison, Leko (Fletcher 45), Rondon (Berahino 45), McClean.
TUFC Bookings: None.
Attendance: 3,017 (653 Away).