Torquay United got back to winning ways at Plainmoor this afternoon with Scott Boden’s second-half strike doing enough for the Gulls to claim the three points with a 1-0 win against King’s Lynn Town.
It was the Gulls’ first home win since Boxing Day and it keeps them third in the National League table – but more importantly, after the 4-1 loss at Maidenhead United in the week, it was a result in the right direction after the injury-hit team’s recent worrying slide in form.
Johnson said he and assistant manager Aaron Downes had been working on the players’ confidence after the defeat on Tuesday night – and there was certainly some evidence of an improvement in that department right from the off.
There were two changes from the ‘Maidenhead’ team with goalkeeper Lucas Covolan coming in and Shaun MacDonald dropping to the bench, and Plymouth Argyle loanee left back Ryan Law making his full debut, with striker Billy Walters moving to the substitutes’ bench.
After a month of making-do at the back, the inclusion of Law meant with two recognised centre backs – Sam Sherring and Joe Lewis – and Ben Wynter at right back, it was finally the right pegs in the right holes again.
With Adam Randell on the right and Jake Andrews on the left, the midfield was completed by Asa Hall and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, and Armani Little in behind striker Boden.
With relegation cancelled for this season, King’s Lynn cannot go down despite being in 21st, so have ‘furloughed’ some of their more expensive players and have been playing with a mixture of young players and loan signings.
Still, with nothing to really lose they played some crisp passing football from the start and Covolan made a brilliant save inside the first two minutes after Tyler Denton had hit the crossbar with a free kick – the ball coming back out and Jordan Richards’ shot on the rebound on target but stopped with one hand by the Brazilian goalkeeper.
It was a fairly open start to the contest with Torquay winning a free kick on seven minutes – Randell nodded the ball from Andrews’ ball into the box and Sherring headed the ball just wide. A great run down the left by Little ended with his shot across goal from a tight angle just nudged wide by Theo Richardson in the King’s Lynn goal.
On 14 minutes the flag went up for offside to save Boden’s blushes when he swept an easy chance wide after a great shot by Hall was parried by Richardson. Law was linking up well with Andrews down the left and a quick cross into the box by Andrews worried the goalkeeper enough for him to tip it over his bar. Hall headed wide from the corner. Covolan had a free kick from distance covered as it flew wide in the 22nd minute.
Another Andrews cross from the left was close to the toes of several Torquay players. Torquay were a constant threat but without breaking through – Hall made some space on the edge of the King’s Lynn box after another pass by Andrews but the captain’s shot was always drifting wide. Randell was inches short of meeting an Andrews cross on the half-hour. When Lemonheigh-Evans weaved his way into the box there was no-one there to get on the end of his cheeky cut-back.
Torquay were sloppy at the back on 36 minutes but Tyler Denton’s volley was well parried by Covolan. Andrews shot wide under pressure a minute later. In the one minute of stoppage time, a Hall header from another Andrews cross set up Boden to try a spectacular overhead kick – but the ball went straight into the chest of Richardson. That was unlucky.
In the first minute of the second half, Lemonheigh-Evans attacked King’s Lynn goal and shot from the edge of the box. Richardson should have held the ball but split it and Boden was there to poke it home. It was the Gulls’ first goal from open play in 433 minutes.
A poor pass by Covolan almost gave the visitors a chance of an instant reply. But King’s Lynn couldn’t capitalise on the error.
A whipped Wynter shot across goal bounced just wide as Torquay continued to build well; a Little cross was cleared for a corner, and Hall directed his header wide at the near post. The players were doing a good job of making King’s Lynn play the game in their own half.
King’s Lynn made a couple of attacking substitutions going into the last 20 minutes – meaning Torquay were going to have to be wary of the counter attack. Josh Umerah came on for Boden on 76 minutes. A Little shot on 79 minutes was parried by Richardson. King’s Lynn won only their second corner on 83 minutes – Covolan punched the ball clear and Little added his boot to the ball.
King’s Lynn had most of the ball in the last five minutes – as Torquay sat back and defended. It wasn’t an easy watch – but Umerah was dragged to the ground in a rare Torquay attack but Law slipped as he took the free kick.
In time added on, Matt Buse replaced Little – it was a time-wasting substitution – and Torquay ground out the result