Hawks 4 Torquay 2 – FA Cup magic returns to Westleigh Park

Hawks produced a stunning performance to dump higher division Torquay out of the FA Cup and book a first round proper trip to former Premier League club Charlton.

By Simon Carter
Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 11:07 pm
Hawks celebrate a goal during tonight's FA Cup win over higher division Torquay. Picture: Martyn White
Hawks celebrate a goal during tonight's FA Cup win over higher division Torquay. Picture: Martyn White

Paul Doswell’s side produced a near brilliant display to come from behind and win 4-2 against a Gulls side that finished with 10 men after a pulsating 90 minutes which showcased yet again the competition’s enduring magic.

Hawks dominated the first 40 minutes, taking an early lead through captain Joe Oastler, yet trailed at half-time after the visitors scored twice in quick succession against the run of play.

But Jake McCarthy’s stunning 65th minute volley restored parity and seven minutes later Torquay sub Dan Martin was dismissed for a horrendous foul on Tommy Wright.

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Hawks celebrate Jake McCarthy's stunning goal during tonight's FA Cup win over higher division Torquay. Picture: Martyn White

Hawks then booked a glamorous trip to south east London with two goals in the final eight minutes from sub Scott Rendall and Wright.

Thirteen years after the greatest cup night in Westleigh Park history - a third round replay win against three divisions higher Swansea - this was easily the second best.

Hawks boss Doswell had made three changes from the side that had drawn at Plainmoor. One was enforced - Searle in for the injured Ross Worner - and two tactical, Joe Newton replacing Michael Green at left wing back and Manny Adebowale in for Jamie Collins as one of the three centre halves.

Gulls boss Gary Johnson made two changes, with Jake Andrews and Lolos - who had combined for their side’s second goal at the weekend after coming off the bench - in for Johnson and Tom Lapslie.

As the rain lashed down on a filthy night weather wise, Hawks started as they had finished the first tie in south Devon on Saturday.

They forced a flurry of early corners and from the fourth, in the eighth minute, Oastler got in front of his marker at the near post to loop a header into the far corner.

With his second clearly second best, Johnson was forced into a tactical change after just 22 minutes - hauling off right winger Keelan O’Connell and introducing Chiori Johnson as right wing back, switching to a five-man defence.

Having dominated virtually from kick off, Hawks conceded a 40th minute leveller totally against the run of play.

Portsmouth-born Armani Little received the ball in the left hand channel and his low shot was parried by Searle, but the unmarked Johnson was on hand to tap into an empty net from six yards.

If that was harsh on the hosts, it got worse four minutes later. Dean Moxey swung in a teasing cross from the left side and Lolos was on hand to bundle the ball home, again from inside the six-yard box. He proceeded to celebrate in front of fans who no doubt were as shocked as the Hawks faithful by the sudden turnaround.

Into the second half and, as the rain continued to lash down, Billy Clifford fizzed an angled 25-yarder just wide.

Torquay were forced into another defensive change, Martin coming on at left wing back for the injured Ali Omar on 58 minutes and Moxey moving into a central back three.

Seven minutes later came the night’s true champagne moment - Clifford sending in a corner which McCarthy volleyed into the roof of the net. It was a stunning strike of high quality and changed the dynamic of the tie in Hawks’ favour.

Three minutes later Wright broke clean through but Gulls keeper Shaun MacDonald - who had earlier blocked a Wright shot at the expense of a corner - saved again as the striker tried to take the ball around him.

Martin was shown a straight red 18 minutes from time by referee Tom Bishop for a dreadful lunge on Wright which started a prolonged period of verbals from both teams and benches.

Rendall was introduced on 78 minutes after sub Alex Wall, who had only come on 16 minutes earlier, was forced off with an ankle injury.

Four minutes after coming on, Rendall became the second ex-Torquay player - after Oastler - to score against his former club. Oscar Gobern swung in a free-kick which was flicked on and Rendall headed in from close range.

Wright sealed a memorable win on 89 minutes, racing towards goal after Little had slipped, rounding MacDonald and rolling a shot into an empty net.

Next stop on the FA Cup journey is The Valley to face a Charlton side currently struggling in the League 1 relegation zone. The tie will be played on the weekend of November 5-8.

Hawks: Searle, Passley, Newton, Oastler, Adebowale (Wall, 62, Rendall, 78), Magri, McCarthy, Gobern, Clifford, Wright, Roberts (Rooney, 90).

Gulls: MacDonald, Wynter, Moxey, Omar (Martin, 58), Lewis, Little, Andrews, O’Connell (Johnson, 22), Lemonheigh-Evans, Lolos, Holman.