Torpedo stay strong at the back before emerging with the spoils
TORPEDO'S unbeaten start to the season continued as goals from Liam Rice and Gareth Lineham helped them beat a spirited Clifton St Vincent in a top-of-the-table Downs League Division One game.
There were few chances and the game was filled with tough-tackling and midfield possession.
It was Clifton St Vincent who had the best of the first half, as Torpedo struggled to deal with the attacking style of their opponents.
A first-minute corner for Saints almost provided the first goal as Guy Cocks' inswinging flag-kick was flicked on at the near post by centre-back Chris Barley and cleared by Torpedo's Reece Evans at the back post.
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This was a sign of things to come as Saints continued to pile on the pressure and Torpedo were unable to build any attacking momentum as the ball stayed in their half for the majority of the opening period.
The Saints defenders were enjoying a lot of time on the ball, with time to pick a pass and start a fresh attack.
The next chance fell to Saints. This time, right-back Jay Kitgrave found himself in space on the right and his teasing cross fell perfectly between the keeper and the six-yard box, but no Saints player gambled and the chance was gone. Next, it was Steve Snell who found himself in space for Saints, but his cross went straight into the arms of the goalkeeper.
Torpedo provided little going forward in the first half and it took them half-an-hour to register a corner, which was cleared.
Saints should have taken the lead when Liam Marsh's deep cross to the far post evaded the keeper, but Nick Kirby just couldn't hook the ball back towards the goal.
The second half began like the first half ended, with Saints still on top. Cocks was proving a real handful for the Torpedo defence and it was his through ball that brought the first dangerous attack of the second half. Patrick Royal raced on to the defence-splitting pass, but was stopped as he was about to shoot by a superb sliding tackle from Gavin McKeown.
Saints did eventually find the back of the net, but it was ruled out for handball as Jamie Jacobs punched the ball into goal at the back post, which brought the centre-back a booking.
The first goal came just after the hour. Manu Guevara went on a wonderful mazy run near the right touchline and beat three players before cutting the ball back from the byline for Rice who slotted the ball home.
Five minutes later, Saints had a chance to draw level. Owen Grant beat his defender, but shot narrowly wide from a tight angle.
Torpedo then started to dominate, much like Clifton had in the first half.
With five minutes remaining, substitute Akos Toth had the perfect chance to seal the win for Torpedo. He collected a long clearance, following a Saints corner, and found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but his shot was well saved by Marcus Ashley.
It nearly proved costly as a Patrick Royal effort for Saints was brilliantly blocked by Paul Sealey.
With one minute of normal time left, Torpedo scored the goal that sealed all three points.
An inswinging corner from Zoltan Hamzuk found the head of Lineman, who powered home his header via the post.
The scoreline was harsh on previously-unbeaten Saints, who played well for the first hour of the game. But it is Torpedo who remain unbeaten and are now just two points behind leaders Sneyd Park.
Clifton St Vincent: Marcus Ashley, Jay Kitgrave, Andy Pembroke (Chris Pike, 75), Chris Bilko (Kieron Wickham, 70), Chris Barley, Jamie Jacobs, Steve Snell, Patrick Royal, Nick Kirby (Owen Grant, 60), Liam Marsh,Guy Cocks.
Torpedo: Derek McLauchlan, Paul Sealey, Gareth Lineham, Steve Betteridge, Mike Stubbs (Dave Pitcher, 66), Reece Evans, Manu Guevara (Zoltan Hamzuk, 75), Gavin Mckeown, Huw Escott, George Dee (Akos Toth 60), Liam Rice.