SHEFFIELD UNITED halted Torquay’s fightback to go into the hat for tomorrow’s FA Cup third round draw with Ched Evans again on trarget, this time with two goals.
There was precious little romance but, in terms of people’s memories at least, no shortage of magic as Bramall Lane paid tribute to Gary Speed this afternoon.
The 42-year-old, who represented Sheffield United both as a player and coach before becoming manager in August last year, forged a number of lasting friendships during his time in South Yorkshire and many of those former team-mates and colleagues travelled to here to pay their respects.
Two of them - Chris Morgan and Robert Page - laid pitch side wreaths before kick-off and posters bearing the legendary Welshman’s image flew outside the stadium where Speed, who also represented Leeds, Everton, Newcastle and Bolton with distinction, finished his domestic career.
Danny Wilson, speaking in a match day magazine stuffed with personal tributes from such as Stephen Quinn and Nick Montgomery, acknowledged that, as Speed himself would have insisted, ultimately there was also an FA Cup tie to be won.
Torquay, who Wilson had also insisted yesterday would prove obstinate opponents, stood between the hosts and a place in tomorrow’s third round draw.
Quinn, fists clenched and arms pumping moments before referee Sarginson got proceedings underway, was clearly not about to take the threat they posed lightly.
But it was the sight of HOWE dispatching a clinical close range finish beyond a helpless Simonsen with three minutes gone thatreally rammed the message home.
The United goalkeeper was furious with his defence for leaving the Torquay striker unmarked from Nicholson’s free-kick in such a dangerous position.
It took barely a quarter-of-an-hour for the first boos to echo around Bramall Lane as a series of hopeful aerial balls were easily repelled by Torquay’s back four.
Cresswell engineered United’s next opportunity - a 30th minute free-kick for Evans - which Olejnik expertly tipped over the bar.Nevertheless, moments later Stevens should have doubled Torquay’s lead after being put clean through by Howe but inexplicably shot wide.
United 0 Torquay 1
United, who had seen another Evans free-kick saved moments before the interval, were woeful during the first-half.
But the match turned on its head in the 68th and 69th minutes.
First Williamson sent LOWTON scampering down the wing and his cross looped into the back of the net via a wicked deflection off the unfortunate Ellis.
Then, barely 60 seconds later, a delightful individual cameo saw EVANS claim the goal his efforts deserved.
Torquay manager Ling, though, proved himself every bit as classy as the Welshman’s finish by persuading the referee not to book Evans for lifting his shirt above his head as he celebrated in front of the dug-outs.
With confidence coursing through their veins, United now looked a completely different proposition.
Nevertheless, Torquay had already shown more than enough to suggest their threat could not be completely discounted and Morris soon sent an opportunistic shot over the bar.
United booked their place in the third round.
Olejnik’s poor clearance fell straight at EVANS who duly converted with ease.
As the final whistle beckoned, both sets of supporters signed-off by rising to their feet for an impromptu round of applause in memory of Speed.
STEVENS scored a consolation for Torquay with almost the last kick of the game.
For a full report, plus match pix, see the Green’Un