Torquay United’s youth team today recorded a 4-2 victory over touring side Pulse Premier in a competitive match at Bovey Tracey. Although the game was billed, rather misleadingly, as a friendly against a New Zealand youth team, Torquay’s actual opponents were Pulse Premier – a programme designed to provide youngsters aged 16-19 and released by various professional clubs with a route back into the game.
Among Pulse’s starting XI was a familiar face for Torquay’s team – burly forward Sean Latimer had previously spent two years at Plainmoor, being released in March 2012 despite scoring twice for the club’s youth team against Bristol Rovers the previous month.
Despite the security of being fixed up with a professional club, Torquay’s players were just as keen to impress as their Pulse Premier counterparts, with United’s youngsters hoping to follow in the footsteps of Niall Thompson and Kirtys MacKenzie, who both made the step-up to Torquay’s first team at the end of last season.
Promising forward Thompson was in attendance at today’s fixture and was soon joined by United boss Martin Ling and assistant Shaun Taylor. The opening exchanges were scrappy, with the two teams both battling to establish early control. Pulse’s high pressure meant much of United’s possession came deep inside their own half, with vocal goalkeeper Sam Shulberg seeing as much of the ball as any of his outfield team-mates, playing in a fluorescent yellow strip.
However, it was Shulberg’s mistake from a routine cross late in the first half that enabled Pulse to break the deadlock. The goalkeeper, of Northamptonshire origin, failed to collect a ball whipped into the box, and it was former United man Latimer who pounced for a simple tap-in.
Latimer’s physical presence provided a tough challenge for impressive Torquay centre-back Scott Beattie, while Pulse’s attacking line-up also boasted a Gervinho-esque midfielder whose pace often threatened to beat United’s backline in the first half. Though not, as promised, hailing from New Zealand, Pulse’s partisan defence included an Asian centre-back and full-back, whose tidiness and ball-playing tendencies compensated for a lack of aerial ability and height.
Torquay’s main threat, meanwhile, came from pacy winger Danny Sullivan. Fresh from bagging a hat-trick in United’s confidence-boosting 4-0 defeat of local men’s side Kingsteignton Athletic two days earlier, Sullivan would again get on the scoresheet against Pulse.
To their credit, Torquay soon recovered, with their short passing beginning to create a number of one-on-one opportunities. It was through one such chance that the Gulls equalized, but parity was not to last long. Minutes later, evading a couple of challenges on the edge of the Torquay box, Latimer found space to curl a brilliant effort beyond Shulberg and into the top corner. If the forward had set out to prove a point to his former employers and team-mates, first-half evidence suggested his mission was complete.
However, once again refusing to lay down, Torquay equalized in a matter of seconds, tearing through Pulse’s defence straight from the restart. Half-time arrived with the teams level, a fair reflection given the similar shares of possession and shots on goal.
United youth-team coach Geoff Harrop demanded more from his players in the second half, and, with the introduction of a few fresh legs, he was duly rewarded. Torquay enjoyed the better chances of the second half, with Pulse’s early athleticism and tireless running gradually fading as the game wore on. Withdrawing Latimer, Pulse’s standout peformer, midway through the second 45 further reduced the visitors’ attacking threat.
Around 60 minutes had elapsed when Torquay took the lead for the first time in the match, Pulse’s goalkeeper repelling one shot only to see the rebound dispatched beyond him. Though Pulse continued to threaten occasionally – with Shulberg forced into two impressive saves in close proximity – United began to assert control, particularly in the latter stages of the game.
Cypriot left-back Alex Avraamides, who had shown glimpses of skill going forward, was joined by compatriot Charalambos Mouzouros who entered the fray around the 70 minute mark for a brief cameo appearance. Although just 15 years old, Mouzouros’ obvious ability meant his performance was on par with his team-mates – most of whom are two years older than the midfielder, who was rumoured to have interested Italian giants Roma before joining Torquay.
Torquay’s diminutive right-back, having also entered the game late on, did well to not only impress going forward but to score in the last few minutes, surging forwards before squeezing a shot between goalkeeper and post from an improbable angle. The final whistle sounded soon afterwards to confirm a relatively comfortable win and well-earned win.
Result: Torquay United Youth 4-2 Pulse Premier
Date: Friday, 20 July 2012
Venue: The Recreation Ground (Bovey Tracey)
Referee: Robbie Herrera (Torquay)
Attendance: c. 25
Pulse Premier line-up: Sinan Satlik, Joyal Gurung, Charlie Bristow, Minchim Choi, Jamie Clare, Matt Cooper, Sam de St Croix, David Koula, Sean Latimer, Josh Wright, Tai Chan.