United Surrender Two Goal Lead
Torquay United 2
Niate 20, Janneh 44
Billericay Town 2
Cunnington 51, 69
Coombes (Sent Off 71)
It proved to be a game of two halves for Torquay United, as the Gulls surrendered a two-goal lead against National League South leaders Billericay Town at Plainmoor on Saturday afternoon, writes Steve Harris.
United appeared to be in control after Jean Yves Koue Niate’s first goal for the club gave them the lead before Saikou Janneh struck with his second in as many games on the stroke of half-time.
However, Billericay – now managed by Dean Brennan – hit back through a second half brace from substitute Adam Cunnington to claim what could turn out to be a valuable point.
Gary Johnson made two changes to the side that drew with Weston Super Mare as Ben Wynter and Ruairi Keating came in for George Essuman and Opi Edwards. The Gulls also adopted a 4-3-3 formation, which saw Keating form a three-man forward line with leading scorer Jamie Reid and Janneh.
The first chance of the game fell to United on six minutes when left-back Liam Davis attempted a long range strike which Billericay keeper Alan Julian was able to palm away.
Four minutes later, the visitors carved out an opportunity – following a good passing move – which resulted in skipper Sam Deering drilling his effort wide.
On 18 minutes, Reid appeared to have been fouled in the box – however referee Scott Jackson took a different view and showed Reid a yellow card for diving.
In the 21st minute, the Gulls were in front as skipper Kyle Cameron knocked a Connor Lemonheigh-Evans corner back across goal and Koue Niate slotted home.
Two minutes later, United came agonisingly close to doubling their lead as Ruiari Keating narrowly failed to connect with a cross from Ben Wynter.
The Gulls eventually found a second on the stroke of half time when Saikou Janneh fired home a scissor kick after Billericay failed to clear the danger following a free-kick from Lemonheigh-Evans.
Billericay pulled a goal back on 51 minutes after Torquay keeper Shaun MacDonald headed a clearance straight into the path of substitute Cunnington, who then lofted the ball into an empty net.
Cunnington then completed his brace on 69 minute as he rose highest to connect with a corner from Callum Kennedy.
Two minutes later, the visitors were reduced to ten men as Adam Coombes was awarded a second yellow card for a dangerous challenge on Gulls midfielder Ryan Dickson.
In the 75th minute, Torquay went all out in search of a winner, as Johnson sent Brett Williams in place of Kalvin Kalala in a switch that saw the Gulls adopt a 4-2-4 formation.
However, despite a late rally, United were unable to find a winner as they were forced to settle for a point – but their unbeaten record under Johnson remains intact.
TUFC Starting XI (4-4-3): Shaun MacDonald, Ben Wynter, Jean Yves Koue Niate, Kyle Cameron, Liam Davis, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, Ryan Dickson, Kalvin Kalala (Brett Williams 75), Ruairi Keating, Jamie Reid, Saikou Janneh
Subs Not Used: Jakub Sokolik, George Burton, Samir Nabi, Olaf Koszela
Bookings: Reid 17, Lemonheigh-Evans 81
Attendance: 2’046 (61 Away)