Jekyll and Hyde Gulls banish Dartford debacle
Torquay United manager Gary Johnson was full of praise for his players after a stunning 4-1 win at Eastbourne which followed a nightmare journey.
The team coach was stuck in traffic and late arriving at the ground after what Johnson said had been a seven or eight-hour journey from Devon.
But his players learned their routines on the coach and responded with one of their best performances of the season to lift them back up into the National League South play-off places.
It was a marked contrast to last Saturday’s feeble performance at Dartford, when the Gulls were soundly beaten.
“It was like two different teams,” said Johnson afterwards.
He made a number of changes for the game at Eastbourne, bringing back fit-again goalkeeper Mark Halstead and midfielder Tom Lapslie. Also back in the starting line-up were Jack Stobbs and Lewis Collins, while Bournemouth loanee Archie Harris made his full debut.
United took the lead through Callum Dolan, whose pinpoint shot from outside the box set a pattern for Torquay’s finishing on the artificial pitch.
Next up was Brett McGavin, with another of his trademark long-range efforts which flew in past home keeper Harrison Foulkes.
Eastbourne went down to 10 men after Lucas Defise picked up a second yellow card in quick succession, and Jack Stobbs rattled the crossbar with another long range effort for the Gulls before the break.
The home side pulled a goal back through a Callum Kealy penalty, but Torquay were in charge and extended their lead with two more long shots.
First McGavin netted a free kick which went in off the underside of the bar and then Brad Ash scored the goal of the night with a shot from 25 yards which flew in beyond the despairing Foulkes.
Afterwards Johnson revealed that his players had memorised their free-kick routines on the bus as traffic jams halted their progress.
“We had a game plan and we kept at it,” he said. “We knew it was a big game because it was one of our games in hand.
“We can be very proud of the lads today. There were 10 minutes after half time when we were a bit lax, but once we got the third goal we knew we would be able to open them up.
“Now we need to show our home fans some of how we played today.”
United are at home to Tonbridge Angels on Saturday and entertain Weymouth at Plainmoor next Tuesday.