(Reid 29’ & 62)
10-man United power to a 2-0 victory over Dartford at Plainmoor to reduce the gap at the top to just a point.
Two goals from leading scorer Jamie Reid ensured United got all three points, in a game where for 77 minutes they were reduced to 10.
Gary Johnson made one change from the side that beat Billericay last weekend, with goal-scorer Kalvin Lumbumbo-Kalala replacing Jake Andrews who was named on the subs bench.
On an afternoon where gale-force winds and blustery conditions pursued, United looked to get right on the front foot and build on their fabulous 2-0 display away to Billericay last Saturday.
The Gulls certainly had to soak up a great deal of early pressure from the visitors and struggled to get the decisive touches in Dartford territory, but they pushed on.
The turning point of the half occurred in the 13th minute when United defender Jean Yves-Koue Niate received a straight red card after referee Lee Brennan deemed he had illegally brought down Dartford forward Darren McQueen on the edge of the area. Now down to ten, Johnson took decisive action by sending on Jamie Sendles-White for Ruari Keating to plug the gap defensively.
Dartford could well have opened the scoring just seven minutes after the sending off, after Ryan Hayes evaded the challenge of Liam Davis and got a shot away, but his effort just went over and looked well covered by Shaun MacDonald.
United finally broke the deadlock in the 29th minute thanks to a powerful strike from top-scorer Jamie Reid. Connor Lemonheigh-Evans’ corner found Kyle Cameron in the area who was unable to get any real connection with his header, but did find its way to Reid who was able to convert from range.
The visitors’ best chance of the half came three minutes from half time when McQueen found himself with time and space in the TUFC half with his long range strike just evading MacDonald’s crossbar.
United could well have got their second of the afternoon five minutes before the interval. Another Lemonheigh-Evans corner found Cameron in the area, but his powerful header was just off target.
United came right out of the blocks in the second half and looked to add to their lead right off the bat.
Lumbumbo-Kalala could well have doubled United’s lead early in the half when he found himself in space on the right and had both the skill and determination to drive into the area. His left-footed strike unfortunately just went round the post.
The all-important goal came just after the hour mark. On the 62nd minute mark, Reid got his, and most significantly United’s, second of the afternoon after beating Bailey Vose from close range. After Saikou Janneh’s solo run into the area, and subsequent shot, needed saving from the Dartford keeper, Reid was in the right position to tuck in the rebound.
Going into the final quarter of the game, Torquay were well and truly dominating the proceedings and looked well set to see out the game.
As the referee blew the final whistle, United supporters rose to their feet in adulation. Another all-important victory for the gulls and one that sees them within touching distance of the top of the National League South table.
TUFC: Shaun MacDonald (GK), Ben Wynter, Liam Davis, Ruari Keating (Jamie Sendles-White 15’), Asa Hall © (Frank Vincent 81’), 10. Saikou Janneh, 11. Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, 15. Jean Yves-Koue Niate, 17. Kyle Cameron, 19. Jamie Reid, 20. Kalvin Lumbumbo-Kalala (Ryan Dickson 61’). SUBS NOT USED: George Burton (GK), Jake Andrews
Sending-off: Niate (13’)
Dartford: Bailey Vose (GK), Callum Driver, Jordan Wynter, Ronnie Vint, Tom Bonner ©, Ben Greenhalgh (Charlie Sheringham 45’), Joe Healy, Darren McQueen (Tom Murphy 79’), Phil Roberts, Ryan Hayes (Andre Coker 65’), Daniel Johnson. SUBS NOT USED: Billy Crook
Bookings: Vint (65’), Driver (71’) & Wynter (77’)
Referee: Lee Brennan
Attendance: 2284 (64 away)