Torquay United Ladies recorded their first points of the 2018/19 South West Women’s Premier League campaign this afternoon, edging past Forest Green Rovers at the Kingsway Sports Pavilion.
Once again, United lined up with a very different looking XI to last week’s loss to Keynsham. Midfielders Rhi Bailey, Daisy Self and Ellie Hellyer were unavailable, while captain Danni Wyatt had not recovered from illness in time to make the journey up the M5.
Despite the changes to the Gulls team for the game, it was a bright start again from the visiting side. A couple of early efforts at goal from Charlotte Dymond and Kasey Dickson were off target. At the other end, Forest Green were struggling to get in behind the defensive line.
The game was just 12 minutes old when the only goal arrived. A lovely build up through the middle released Dani Harper, who was able to power the ball past the Rovers goalkeeper. It was a deserved advantage for the Gulls, who had looked to get on the front foot more in the early stages.
Forest Green responded well, applying instant pressure to try and force a quick equaliser, but United were defending stoutly. They successfully defended a handful of corners from the hosts, restricting them to a small number of efforts at goal.
As the first half wore on, the match was being dominated in the middle third. Both sides were trying hard to create a clear cut opportunity, but it failed to arrive for either side before the first half ended.
HALF TIME: Forest Green Rovers 0-1 Torquay United (Harper, 12)
The second half began and it was clear from the start that Rovers would look to score early to gain a bit of momentum. They looked to get the ball in wide areas more to try and get behind the United defence. Again, though, the United backline responded brilliantly to the challenge, and kept the hosts at bay.
Around the hour mark, United had their best opportunity to double their advantage. Forest Green’s goalkeeper passed the ball straight to the feet of Harper, who took the early decision to lob the backtracking keeper. Unfortunately for United it had just too much on it, and looped over the bar. A second goal would have given the Gulls breathing space ahead of the final period of the match.
A 10 minute heavy downpour added another element to an intriguing match, as both sides were faced with wind, rain and hail. To their enormous credit, this did not distract the United side from their jobs on the pitch.
FGR pressed more and more as the clock ran down, and the final stages were ramping up the pressure on the Gulls goal. Numerous corners were forced, but, just as in the first half, United stood firm under the barrage.
Neave Gosling was forced into a handful of superb saves to keep the clean sheet intact. As the clock ticked towards the 90th minute, Rovers had their clearest chance to level it. A goalmouth scramble from a corner was eventually poked wide of the far corner and out for a goal kick.
Soon after that chance the final whistle was blown, and United had seen off the challenge, recording their first points of the season. It had been an performance filled with character and energy and the ladies had put in everything to gain the victory.
FULL TIME: Forest Green Rovers 0-1 Torquay United (Harper, 12)
Torquay: N. Gosling, L. Shaw (c), K. Mace, M. Strong, A. Evans, S. Kotlinska, N. Farrell, K. Dickson, C. Dymond, L. Swaine, D. Harper. Subs: B. Marshall, N. Allen, B. Moody