A very solid win against a pretty poor Burton side.
At times during the first half we played some sublime football. Think back to performances at Cheltenham and Hull during the Leroy promotion season. We looked that comfortable, scored two well taken goals and created enough chances to be well clear at half time. Eunan was pulling the strings and looked a class apart at times. His vision in the run up to our second was superb. I was impressed with how comfortable all of our players looked on the ball.
However, we started to over play in the second half and got a little complacent. Moves that were coming off in the first half were breaking down in the second. We stopped doing the basics as each pass was trying to be the killer pass. We began to invite pressure, and for a while struggled to retain possession. We never really looked like conceding until an unfortunate clash between Bobby and Saah led to Bobby releasing the ball on impact with the ground. after collecting a cross. It was a bizarre moment when the Burton played tapped the ball into an empty net.
We got a little sloppy as Burton pressed for an equaliser, failing to clear our lines and inviting pressure. We were so much the better side in the first half it would have been a real blow to let it slip. I was getting very frustrated with Rene's failure to hold the ball up, but then with about 10 minutes left he produced a real moment of class. The ball was cleared to him from a Burton attack and he curled a perfect shot into the top corner from the angle of the edge of the box. Game over! Atieno's cool finish was the icing on the cake and will do his confidence no harm. He looked miles off side and had enough time to over think it, but he waited for the keeper to go down and then picked his spot.
There was enough time for Bobby to save a penalty, but Burton, and Peschisolio were a spent force. Parts of our play were superb today, but a better side than Burton would have punished our complacency during the second half. We allowed them 22 shots on goal today. If we give Swindon that opportunities we will struggle to keep the score down.
A good and noisy level of support today. Both times I have visited Burton, I have been impressed with the friendliness of the locals - and the stewards. I thought gulls fans " getting sacked in the morning" chants at Peschisolido were not needed and pretty classless. Is there any history between him and us? Not as if he was an Evans, Raynor or Buckle figure to my knowledge.
All in all a cracking result, four well taken goals and a very good performance all round.
The 2011/12 season has produced many memorable away trips and I would put this right up there with Rovers, Argyle and Cheltenham. In fact I can honestly say I enjoyed this one most of all, we looked that comfortable. Yes, the home side had a spell after the goal where they threatened our penalty area, but in truth we never looked like conceding (bar the late penalty of course).
Some of the football we played in the first half was a joy to behold. Eunan was allowed far too much space and time on the ball, despite being pinpointed earlier in the week by the opposition manager, and was running the show. The defence was rock solid, with Saah in particular displaying a calmness and strength which it's fair to say was not always in evidence in the reverse fixture on the opening day of the season. The other stand-out man was Rene Howe. What a superb job he did in the lone striker role, demonstrating not only his immense strength but also an under-rated work rate and ability on the ball.
Indeed, Howe was on hand to set up the first goal with a smart layoff to Danny who finished well following good work on the right. The second was even better. Eunan bamboozled the Burton defender with some clever footwork before releasing Nico who slid a ball in towards the near post where Manse was on hand to notch his 13th of this incredible season. In fact, he should have made it 14 just before the break when his first touch let him down with only the keeper to beat. Burton were abject at best and looked like a team who had not won since Boxing Day, severely lacking in confidence. United on the other hand were coasting.
Onto the second half and we continued where we left off. Eunan came close to one of the goals of the season following an excellent one-touch move but unfortunately his chipped effort fell invitingly into Atkins' reach. The defence meanwhile was still repelling everything the home side could throw at them, with Bobby largely untested. Then a cross came into the Gulls' box and there was a moment of hesitation between Saah and Bobby, who eventually claimed the ball. However, the pair were less fortunate just a few minutes later as a looped ball was heading into the Austrian's hands. Saah had ducked, obviously hearing the call but this caused Bobby to land awkwardly via his defender onto the deck, spilling the ball into the grateful path of Richards who almost apologetically rolled it in... 2-1 and game on.
Of greater concern for the travelling Gulls fans though was the severity of Olejnik's injury. This could be the moment our luck would change and our season looked in real jeopardy. Thankfully, following 5 minutes or so of treatment, Bobby rose gingerly to his feet to great applause from the yellow army. In hindsight, the delay would turn out to favour the away side as you could sense a Burton onslaught in the final 20 minutes, but the momentum of the goal had all-but evaporated. With the exception of a cross from the dangerous Ainsworth which flashed across the face of goal and a shot which produced a smart, re-assuring save from our wounded hero, they rarely looked like clawing back an unlikely equaliser.
Enter the big man to restore Torquay's 2 goal advantage. A hopeful ball out of defence was hunted down by Howe, with no other white shirt within the Burton half. "Take him on!", I think to myself. Rene was having none of it and, following a quick stepover, lofted an equisite curling effort past the keeper's despairing dive and into the top right-hand corner. It was a sublime finish with what turned out to be his last contribution of an all-action performance. After a cracking celebration in front of the delirious travelling support he completed a perfect lap of the Burton half and was replaced by Atieno, who was joined on the pitch by Ryan Jarvis replacing a tiring Danny. Moments later, Lathrope took a well deserved rest for the fresh-legs of LRT.
Just when it seemed like the afternoon couldn't get any better, Manse found Atieno with a lofted pass over the top of a static Burton defence who were bemused, along with the majority within the Pirelli Stadium, to find the assistant's flag down and Tai finished calmy under the keeper's body... 4-1!!!
There was even time for some late drama as a Burton player was allowed far too much freedom to surge into the United area and was eventually taken out from behind by Rowe-Turner. I was sure the referee was going to produce the red card but, to his credit, he saw no reason to spoil our day in the Staffordshire sun, which by now was forming a beautiful skyline behind the terraced stand at the opposite end of the pitch. Which is exactly where Justin Richards placed his follow-up effort after a poor spot-kick was comfortably saved by a now fully-mobile Olejnik. It was to prove the last real action of a fantastic game for everyone in the bygone white away strip and especially the Yellow Army who departed into the East Midlands sunset with a smile on their face and the prospect of a top-of-the-table clash against Swindon on Tuesday.
Watching the goals on TV I think your description of Eunan 'bamboozling' the Burton defence is very apt. I cannot think of many previous Gulls with the skill to do what he did - maybe Jason Fowler and Mark Loram but just confirms what a great talent O'Kane is.
it speaks volumes of okanes ability that he is mentioned along side loram and fowler two players of great ability from the past,fowler in particular whose career was cut short by injury,one of the best players to ever wear a gulls shirt imho
what a person is told is not half as important as what they think they have been told