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On Top of the World

Scannell Vision

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 23/04/2022

RECENTLY Town announced the signing of four Apprentices as the Class of 2022. In all probability, not only they but also their parents wouldn't have been born the last time I saw today's opponents Torquay play Town.

In my latest bid to claim Heritage status or a place preserved in aspic in a museum, I can confirm it was September 1967, the second time I saw Town play, a Division 3 game.

I stand to be corrected in saying that Ron “Cannonball” Cockerill scored at both ends in a 1 - 1 draw. Back to the here and now, Town are in good shape but didn't want to be slipping up against Torquay who have been on a good run of late and have an outside chance of making the play-offs themselves. So unlike at King's Lynn, where Town's victory smacked of labour and struggle, today was not the day for an experimental side. So the Manager's Choice was: Crocombe - Efete, Waterfall, Smith, Amos - Jones, Holohan - Maguire-Drew, Clifton, Scannell - Taylor. 5,826 spectators were here for today's spectacle, including a commendable 125 away supporters.

In the breezy sunshine of Blundell Park Torquay wore a pale green of the sort you'd see in a Dulux catalogue or in a 1970s bathroom suite. Maintaining the Heritage theme, their shirts were emblazoned with 1899, the year they were formed. Town attacked the Osmond end. “It could be a long game, this”, came the first moan from behind me. We were four minutes into a game which so far had been like a park kickabout. But a Taylor flick brightened up proceedings and earned a free-kick. Amos supplied Taylor whose clever turn led to a chance for Clifton which he dragged wide. A horrendous mistake by Jones on 9 minutes led to a Torquay attack. Smith was alert and conceded a corner. This was cleared with ease, and then outstanding work by the increasingly impressive Amos started a Town attack. Maguire-Drew slipped. The opportunity was over. Torquay had the best chance so far on 13 minutes when Lemonheigh-Evans, simply and more economically known as Evans on his shirt, crossed to the unmarked Little but Crocombe made a brilliant save from Little's effort from 10 yards. Torquay won a corner. “Yellow, yellow” chanted the enthusiastic Torquay fans, demonstrating momentary colour blindness. The game then went through the misplaced passes stage, but on 19 minutes Holohan decided to stop the rot by bursting through, but was unable to find support. Clifton had a rising shot from outside the box which Macdonald in the Torquay goal gathered easily. Torquay won a corner on 23 minutes. Little crossed and Lewis went close. So far there had been a lot of running around but it was Torquay who played confidently and had the better chances. On 28 minutes Town had Crocombe to thank again when Lemonheigh-Evans's curled shot was pushed over. The corner came in. It wasn't cleared. The unmarked Hall slammed the ball home. Town 0, Torquay 1. On 31 minutes a Scannell trademark run got Town upfield, supplying Amos but Holohan was unable to direct his header from the cross. Town were second best here. Torquay were solid in defence and closing us down. But Town continued to press, and on 35 minutes good work by Taylor led to a low shot from Scannell which Macdonald did well to save. Maguire-Drew's corner went straight to the goalkeeper. Wright then slipped in a pass to Lemonheigh-Evans at the other end and Torquay once again came close to scoring. On 39 minutes Town attacked in numbers, Scannell and Taylor providing options. Clifton received the ball in the middle with the defence spread. Teeing himself up, Clifton took a shot from outside the box. The ball drilled into the left corner. It was a great strike. Town 1, Torquay 1. After Lemonheigh-Evans was booked for simulation, Scannell showed his skill, beating a wall of four players from a tight spot and sending a pass to Maguire-Drew who couldn't find the space to get through the defence. Town could not be accused of lacking effort but Torquay continued to be a threat. On 44 minutes Duke-McKenna sent in a cross from the right over the defence to the head of Lemonheigh-Evans who couldn't miss from 6 yards out. But he did, in fact spectacularly so, and it was a let-off for Town as well as being a crowd-pleaser. As the half ended, Scannell was put through but resolute defending shook him off. From the resultant corner, Efete managed a downwards header but it went wide. So it was level at half time. The mood in the home crowd and team picked up after Town's goal but it was Torquay who looked to be more organised and have greater intensity in their team play.

Town could have scored in the first minute of the second half when a rushed goalkeeping clearance led to Taylor laying the ball off for the advancing Efete. Only heroics by Macdonald, who spread himself well, stopped Efete from scoring. Five minutes later a Holohan volley was deflected for a corner. Hall cleared, and as Torquay attacked Hall was fouled before the ubiquitous Hall came close with a shot which was blocked. Great work by Scannell on the left found Clifton whose shot was blocked. Taylor was alert to the rebound but his shot struck the crossbar on its way over. Torquay attacked. Town countered with another great run from Scannell and a threaded pass to Clifton who advanced but wasted the opportunity by treading on the ball. But Town were now passing with skill. The team play was better. Scannell and Amos worked up the left on 58 minutes and won a corner. Maguire-Drew's delivery was again poor. Maguire-Drew then had a chance after Holohan supplied the ball, but as Maguire-Drew looked to cut inside, he fell over himself. On 62 minutes Wright replaced Maguire-Drew, suggesting that Mr Hurst was looking for a continuation of attacks from the flanks. As 70 minutes approached, the crowd was quiet. The game had entered a spell of inaction. Little took it upon himself to liven up proceedings for Torquay with a shot from outside the box but merely succeeded in putting the ball out for a throw-in. It was nice day though, if a bit breezy. Scannell then went on a mazy run, switching the play as Efete and Wright worked up the right. Wright was wronged with a foul. Jones crossed and found Amos whose delivery found the head of Waterfall but there was no power. Crocombe almost provided the wrong sort of excitement by making a hash of a clearance on 73 minutes as he found himself near the corner flag. The Torquay player fortunately was unable to keep the ball in play. A minute later a Holohan cross field pass almost yielded success for Town but in spite of his best efforts, Efete was unable to get on the end of it. Following another great move, Scannell had a shot blocked. Taylor's dummy left the defender looking like a tailor's dummy but the ball was cleared out to Amos who crossed. No-one could get on the end of it however as the ball went out for a goal kick. Town were now playing like a team. On 79 minutes Scannell's vision resulted in a great ball inside to Wright who in spite of the space he had, leant back and hit his shot over into the Pontoon. The same combination then worked together as this time it was Wright's turn to supply Scannell after a run up the right. Scannell's shot was close but wide as the defence were at sea. Smith then found Jones, but alas, the ball was lost. Torquay had produced very little as Town dominated the second half but still looked a threat going forward. On 84 minutes it took the experience of Waterfall to repel Lemonheigh-Evans and win a goal kick into the bargain. Abrahams replaced Jones on 85 minutes. As the game looked to be heading to a draw as neither side could unlock the opposition defence, Holohan summed up the frustration with a poor pass into touch on 89 minutes. There had been great endeavour from the flanks, but the quality of midfield play had been variable. As the 90 minutes was up, Scannell - who else - found Holohan, but the keeper saved the shot with his feet. Amos received the ball on the left and as he surged into the box, was on the receiving end of a clumsy challenge. Penalty to Town. Tense moments followed. Abrahams stepped up. Abrahams checked and coolly sent the ball into the right corner with Macdonald going the wrong way. Town 2, Torquay 1. The game was in the 91st minute. Four minutes had been added. Abrahams sought to play the game out by battling in the corner. Pearson came on for Taylor to provide support at the back, and in a confusion of roles as is the risk on these occasions got mixed up with Smith, leading to a Torquay throw. But Smith shook off Omar, and Town had a goal-kick. Clifton then won a free-kick after being fouled in the middle of the field. Town fought hard in the realisation that victory here was going to be significant in advancing the cause of a play-off place. The referee blew the whistle for full time. Town won and there was a collective sigh of relief and no little jubilation. Town 2, Torquay 1 was the final score.

A draw would have been a decent enough result in the scheme of things but a win is exactly what the doctor ordered as Town steam towards the play-offs. After struggling to keep up in the first half, Town played well in the second but it looked like poor touches and finishing were going to let us down. The midfield was erratic, which is a concern as we go forward, but the defensive pairing of Waterfall and Smith once again looked solid, and Mr Hurst's tactics of playing with Maguire-Drew and Scannell on the wings opened up space, with some great touches from Taylor and enterprising wing-back play from Efete and Amos. Maguire-Drew didn't have the best of games, but Scannell was electric, showing tremendous energy cutting inside and outside and setting up colleagues with pinpoint passes. This is a team with options, and in particular Scannell's vision today was of a quality higher than this division. His play and the result provided warmth on this cold day in Cleethorpes.

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