Report - Torquay United 7-2 Oxford City
By Oxford City FC
One to Forget...
Oxford City came out on the wrong side of a nine-goal haul at Plainmoor as Torquay United romped to a 7-2 victory.
The damage was done in a wind-assisted the first half, the hosts going into the break five goals to the good, and goals from Josh Ashby and Kabby Tshimanga midway through the second half weren't enough to spark an unlikely comeback.
The week preceding the game was a turbulent one for Mark Jones as his list of available players was in constant flux. Whilst Ryan Case's successful appeal against last weekend's red card was a boost, the departure of Udoka Godwin-Malife and unexpected loss of Eddie Jones to illness left the City boss's defence looking extremely thin. The result was a change of shape for the Hoops, a more traditional 4-4-2 with Craig Fasanmade joining Kabby Tshimanga up top. The defence featured a number of 'square pegs in round holes' as Tom Carter slotted in alongside Joe Oastler at centre half, protecting Craig King, with Ryan Case and Kyran Wiltshire at right and left fullback respectively. A compact midfield comprised of Zac McEachran, Josh Ashby, Jack Self, and Reece Fleet rounded out the lineup.
With the Plainmoor pitch showing the full effects of a tough season so far, rain pouring down and the coastal winds whipping along the pitch, both sides steeled themselves for a tough 90 minutes.
The hosts were the first to line up a shot on goal, Liam Davis firing narrowly wide of King's bottom corner.
Moments later, however, they made the breakthrough. King did superbly to stop Jamie Reid's initial shot, however he could do nothing about the follow-up as Saikou Janneh latched onto the loose ball and fired home.
With the strong winds making it difficult for the Hoops to get the ball forward in the air, the surface also conspired to make life difficult. Their deficit was almost doubled when Wiltshire's short pass unexpectedly stopped, forcing Oastler into a superb saving tackle as Torquay looked to capitalise.
The hosts did, however, extend their lead in the 20th minute. A cross to the far post found Ruairi Keating, his header back across goal giving Janneh an easy finish for his second of the game.
Two became three almost immediately: Carter's misplaced pass was picked up by Connor Lemonheigh-Evans whose ball to Reid left the forward with a simple finish.
With the half hour mark approaching, the Hoops made their first meaningful venture into the Torquay penalty area, Tshimanga dispossessed by Liam Davis moments before pulling the trigger.
Moments later, Case's powerful effort was cleared off of the line.
The momentum, however, did not continue to favour City. With 10 minutes to go until the break, a freak inswinging corner dropped straight into the back of King's net.
The ball did make its way into City's net for a fifth time, however the offside flag was raised after Keating fired home at the back post.
With just two minutes of the half remaining, a fifth goal did arrive. Another far post cross this time found Jake Andrews whose volley cannoned in off of the inside of the post.
The Hoops had one final chance in the first half when goalkeeper Shaun MacDonald handled the ball outside of his area. The referee was lenient, opting against a card given the slippery conditions, and the resulting free kick came to nothing.
The half time break did offer some reprieve – the rain clearing and making way for a hint of sunshine.
The second half began a little more brightly for the Hoops, Tshimanga getting in behind the Torquay defence in the 50th minute and attempting to lob MacDonald only for the 'keeper to stay tall and block his shot.
Not long after, Fasanmade burst into the box and forced another superb saving tackle from the defence. The hosts were able to break, with Reid shooting wide.
Mark Jones made his first change of the game in the 54th minute, Jack Self making way for Bobson Bawling having picked up a booking.
Just before the 60th minute, it became 6-0. Lemonheigh-Evans' low cross found Andrews whose backheel completed his hattrick.
The Hoops gave themselves a glimmer of home in the 68th minute when Ashby's looping, curling effort from the edge of the area left MacDonald with no chance.
The response was almost immediate – Andrews looked to catch King out from distance, the 'keeper doing just enough to get back in position and make the save.
With just under 20 minutes remaining, however, the Hoops finally managed to plant a seed of concern amongst the home crowd when Tshimanga pulled a second goal back. The striker evaded the attentions of his marker to slot the ball under MacDonald and make the score 6-2.
The slim hope of a comeback lasted until the 79th minute. City's makeshift defence was stauesque as Torquay won the ball in the final third, the hosts able to exchange passes in the box before Raid completed his hattrick with a simple finish at the far post.