TRAILING AFTER only eleven minutes, Torquay United recovered to reach the semi-finals of the Devon St. Luke’s Bowl when their Reserves beat holders Buckland Athletic 3-1 at Homers Heath, Newton Abbot.
It was certainly a relief for the Gulls, who had lost to their South Devon neighbours in the last two seasons and had a man sent off each time.
And for at least 15 minutes on Wednesday evening it looked as if Buckland had every chance of pulling off a notable hat-trick against their senior neighbours.
They took the lead when Simon Revell scored from ten yards at the far post after a build-up between Bucks’ player-manager Antony Lynch and Gavin Hammon.
Only a reaction save by Martin Rice prevented home skipper Danny Lewis making it 2-0 from a Revell cross, and United were relieved when Angus MacDonald came up with an important tackle to stop Hammon on another Lynch pass.
But United gradually got their act together, with scholar Jack May sparking a young midfield, and in the 24th minute May equalised, shooting home after Danny Sullivan ‘dummied’ on Ashley Yeoman’s low cross from the left.
Danny Gaze cleared off the line from Saul Halpin and Sullivan went close just before half-time.
Lynch took himself off and sent on Jamie Mudge at the interval, and Buckland tackled the second half as spiritedly as they had the first.
But May helped the Gulls to regain control, and in the 56th minute left-back and captain Tom Cruise, who played with obvious authority throughout, supplied the through-ball for Halpin to beat the offside trap, round Kenny Griffiths and make it 2-1.
Eight minutes later another Cruise pass slipped Yeoman into the area, Luke Horrocks brought him down and Halpin converted the penalty…3-1 to United.
Buckland weren’t quite done, for Rice had to make good saves from Hammon, Mudge, the busy Ben Carter and Horrocks in the closing stages, Rice tipping Horrocks’ volley onto his bar and behind.
The competition has ground to make up with other ties, and United await news of their last-four opponents.
Buckland Athletic (4-4-2): Griffiths; Head (Drew 80), Horrocks, Green, Gaze; Carter, Burgess, Lewis, Revell (Stevens 60); Lynch (Mudge 46), Hammon; subs not used – Wright, Booth.
Torquay United (4-2-3-1): Rice; Leadbitter, Washburn (Beattie 67), MacDonald, Cruise; Campbell, May; Halpin, Sullivan (Nardiello 81), Baker; Yeoman; subs not used – Ibbetson, Hutchings, Alexander.
Referee: D. Goard.