MATCH REPORT: Torquay 3 Rotherham United 3

Keeping it tight: Prolific Lewis Grabban steers home his first goal at Torquay from the acutest of angles.    Pictures: PAUL WICKSON
Keeping it tight: Prolific Lewis Grabban steers home his first goal at Torquay from the acutest of angles. Pictures: PAUL WICKSON
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THIS was quite some game. A thriller in fact. Yes, they do thrillers down in League Two.

They also do vibrant, lively, open, attacking football and they also do dodgy defending. But we shouldn’t grumble when defences wobble like jelly in the face of two teams intent on attack.

It’s pretty nerve-wracking for the fans as the opposition set off forward again but it sure beats some dull, defence-dominated goalless stalemate. Not that, right from the start, this was going to be one of those.

It’s not often a game opens with three goals in the first 10 minutes. And if it does then things usually settle down not long after and tighten up. This one didn’t.

It was edge-of-the-seat stuff from start to finish.

Anybody can point fingers at individuals and have a ‘pop’ at dodgy defending. But get everything right and you’ve not much excitement in a game. Things do go wrong, errors are made and it is League Two after all.

You might call it red, white and blue defending. You had errors to make you red-faced; the manager probably went white when Torquay had a great last-minute chance and the air certainly seemed blue the way he was blasting somebody out in the middle midway through the second half.

Rotherham will rush to push the positives, which was their attacking work. They were two up in nine minutes and had had three other opportunities in that time!

They looked a potent threat whenever they went forward in the first half, particularly with Gareth Evans running around Joe Oastler again and again and being involved in two of the three goals.

Torquay looked terrified at the back. But they instantly looked pretty handy themselves going forward, operating a 4-3-3 but with skilful Eunan O’Kane - talented ex-Everton youngster - a particular problem as he drifted in a free role and proved pretty elusive.

Whilst you could credit Torquay in coming back from 3-1 down, you had to say that Rotherham rarely looked comfortable in trying to contain them at any stage. Then again the home side (who did improve defensively after the break) were fortunate to get to half-time not miles behind.

When it was 2-1 after 10 minutes your instinct said it was never going to end like that. The remarkable thing is that there wasn’t another goal after Torquay’s 3-3 equaliser just three minutes after half-time.

Mind you, it should have had the fairytale finish because, in the 90th minute, Billy Bodin rattled a post when he looked set for the winner. But even after that Alex Revell and Evans blazed shots over the bar.

Whether AndyScott decides his side is conceding a few too many or that they will keep on taking it to the opposition remains to be seen. But don’t forget the tranquilisers if it’s the latter!

But his decision to take off his captain and central defender, Ryan Cresswell with 13 minutes left was a bold move. Certainly big Rene Howe had become an increasingly dangerous threat.

Although Torquay bucked up their own defensive ideas in the second half, Rotherham remained dangerous and threatening but never quite carved them open to the extent they did in the first half. Even so, there were goal efforts galore and desperate defending required right to the very end from both teams throughout the second half.

Yep, certainly beats sitting back and shutting up shop and holding on to a point. If your nerves can stand it that is.

In just 90 seconds, Revell headed over a reasonable chance from Marcus Marshall’s cross. By the third minute, Lewis Grabban had shown excellent anticipation and opportunism after an Evans shot had been slowed by a deflection.

When Evans had a close-in, goalbound effort deflected over, with Michael Raynes going close from the resultant corner, it seemed as if Torquay had never come across the word “defending”.

They were undone again by a Danny Schofield corner when Cresswell headed in but Torquay’s immediate response from Bodin, after a smart link with O’Kane, was a warning sign of the home side’s capabilities.

Another goal at either end seemed inevitable and Grabban got it (his sixth of the season), neatly diverting in after more good work from the rampant Evans on the left.

Raynes almost made it 4-1 with a header saved at full stretch as Torquay all but panicked at the back. But left-back Kevin Nicholson’s goal e Gulls new wings at the end of the half.

Three minutes after the break, Cresswell looked favourite but couldn’t hold off Howe, was then beaten by him and the ex-Peterborough man finished smartly.

The threats and the worries for defenders kept coming. One Torquay break with Rotherham up in numbers at the other end saw Bodin tripped right on the edge of the area as he changed direction and offender Raynes was saved from red only because a teammate had got back and would have reached the ball first.

The action remained breathless and, how ever critically the pros will look at it, the game was terrific entertainment.

Phew, what a scorcher!

Manager’s View

This is a tough place to come but we looked a fantastic side at times. That’s the disappointing thing because our fans will go away thinking we should have had three points.