United Draw Against Premiership Cardiff City
Torquay United 1
Cardiff City 1
A Ruairi Keating equaliser for Torquay United in the second half, earned Gary Owers men a deserved draw against Premier League new boys Cardiff City at Plainmoor on Friday night.
After a good performance against Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday night, Torquay’s Owers made a single change to his starting line-up with Asa Hall replacing Jason Banton who dropped to the bench.
Cardiff manager Neil Warnock picked a strong line-up for the fixture and spurred on by just under 900 supporters the Bluebirds where on the front foot from the first whistle moving the ball around the United players with some ease at times.
The visitors forward line of Bobby Reid and Kenneth Zohore had the Gulls backline stretched at times and with some great balls from Joe Ralls it wasn’t going to be long before the chances started to came along.
First Reid saw a shot go narrowly wide as he fired across goal and then Ralls had an effort from outside the box that had to be dealt with well by Alex Bass in the United goal.
The home side then managed to get their passing going and started to put a bit of pressure on their opponents but their efforts lacked the final pass to create a clear opportunity for Brett Williams or Jamie Reid.
The opening goal then came in the 22nd minute, when Josh Murphy fired low into the far corner from 10 yards, however United’s manager must have felt aggrieved that a minute earlier his side did not have a penalty after Brett Williams looked to have been caught by a Cardiff defender as he cut across to try and get a shot away but the referee said no and moments later United where one down.
Having soaked up more pressure after the goal, United’s first effort came a minute before the break from Williams but the forward’s shoot went high and wide from the edge of the area.
City boss Warnock decided to make four changes to his side at the break, while Owers replaced Ryan Dickson with James Roberts.
With a much more open start to the second half, it was the home side that created the first chance when sub James Roberts played in a good cross towards Williams in the 54th minute but the forward was not alert enough to get to the ball as it went across the six-yard box.
Three minutes later Williams was replaced by Keating and the substitute made an immediate impact when a long ball over the top of the City defence by Ben Wynter saw Keating pounce on some indecisive defending and round the keeper and coolly slide the ball into the empty net.
Callum Patterson should have restored Cardiff’s lead shortly after but he put his strike wide of the target. Junior Hoilett then found some space on the right before passing to Zohore in the middle however the forward could only find the side netting as Bass forced him wide.
With the games tempo increased from the first half and confidence high after levelling things up, United started to pass and move and with the lively Keating making things hard for the experienced centre back pairing some half chances fell the Gulls way.
In fact, Torquay could have taken the lead when Greg Cunningham blocked a Jean-Yves Koue Niate strike that was goal bound from the United centre back.
With 10 minutes remaining both sides had chances. James Roberts crossed for Keating but he was unable to get in front of two defenders as he tried to slide the ball in from close range, Cardiff then broke straight down the other end and only a good save by Bass denied Hoilett.
As the game past into the 90th minute Sean Morrison had a header from a corner that just sailed over and just before the final whistle Hoilett tried to curl an effort from outside the box around Bass.
With another 90 minutes under their belts the United manager was delighted with another improved performance. “It was a step up against top class players playing at the very top of the game and I thought we had done well to come in at half time with a good performance but I thought we were even better in the second half” Owers told the waiting media.
Next up for United is Championship side Bristol City at Plainmoor on Tuesday night before a final friendly away to Dorchester Town on Saturday week.
TUFC Starting XI: (3-5-2) 1. Bass – 2. Wynter 4. Essuman 15. Niate 17. Cameron 3. Davis – 16. Dickson (Roberts 45) 14. Nabi 8. Hall – 19. Reid (Banton 67) 9. Williams (Keating 56) (Capt)
Subs Not Used: MacDonald, Koszela, Edwards, Pittman
Attendance: 2’114 (879 Away)