Torquay United 2
Lemonheigh-Evans (23), Andrews (83)
Eastbourne Borough 0
Torquay United clinched the National League Championship on Saturday afternoon thanks to a 2-0 win against Eastbourne Borough at Plainmoor in front of 4’538 supporters.
With Woking losing at Chelmsford, goals from Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, in the first half and Jake Andrews in the second half, gave Gary Johnson’s team the required set of results to seal the title with three games remaining of the season.
“The boys are worthy champions” Johnson said after the final whistle. “To be so far behind when I took over, it looked like the Play-Offs were the only hope, so the boys have put in a fantastic effort”.
“I’m so pleased that we did it in front of our own fans”, Johnson added.
The Gulls manager was forced into changes from his starting eleven from the Woking fixture, as Asa Hall and Ruairi Keating were both ruled out through injury, so into the midfield came Frank Vincent and Andrews.
United had two early chances in the opening 10 minutes to settle any nerves around Plainmoor. First Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala had a shot blocked inside the area, before Saikou Janneh produced a fine save from Samuel Howes at his near post.
Eastbourne had the clearest opportunity to take the lead on 19 minutes through Walker, after Dawnes had beaten his man on the right and produce a great cross, but the header was directed straight at MacDonald from 6 yards.
However, four minutes later and it was the home side that took the lead thanks to Lemonheigh-Evans following up on his own saved penalty, to score from close range with his head, for his 5th goal of the season.
United almost doubled their lead in the first half stoppage time, when a good cross from Jamie Reid found Janneh at the back post, but the Gulls forward could not find the back of the net.
Torquay started the second period as they had ended the first on the front foot. Andrews sent a brilliant corner to the far post, but the unmarked Lemonheigh-Evans couldn’t guide his side foot shot the right side of the post.
There were few clear-cut chances for either side going into the final 20 minutes, but with the Woking score being known around the ground, the need for a second goal from the Gulls was apparent to confirm the title and settle the nervous.
With 7 minutes remaining that goal dually arrived via the left foot of Andrews, as he cut inside his marker to hit the target from 8 yards, to send the home supporters into wild celebrations.
Torquay United Starting Line-up: (4-4-2)
- Shaun MacDonald
- Ben Wynter
- Kyle Cameron ©
- Jean-Yves Koune Niate
- Liam Davis (6. Jamie Sendels-White 88)
- Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala (16.Ryan Dickson 77)
- Frank Vincent
- Connor Lemonheigh-Evans (Olaf Koszela 88)
- Jake Andrews
- Saikou Janneh
- Jamie Reid
Subs Not Used:
- George Burton (GK)
- Opi Edwards
Eastbourne Borough Starting Line-up:
- Samuel Howes
- Tobi Adebayo-Rowling
- Harry Ransom
- Marvin Hamilton
- Kristian Campbell
- Michael West
- Sergio Torres ©
- Kane Wills
- Charlie Walker (12.Josh Bingham 75)
- David Martin (16.Andrew Briggs 74)
- Lloyd Dawes (14.Stefan Ljubicic 36)
Subs Not Used:
- Gregor Shaw (GK)
- Daniel Blackmore
Dawes (13), Adebayo-Rowling (49)
Attendance: 4’538 (49 Away)
MOTM: Frank Vincent (TUFC)