Touch of class from Hawley a tantalising sign of things to come
Quantity will be the acid test for the goals that Karl Hawley scores for Torquay United but he will be going some if he beats the quality of his first strike for the club.
In the 55th minute of Saturday’s 1-1 League Two draw at Morecambe, with United trailing to a stunning first-half drive by home midfielder Ryan Williams, Hawley received a pass from the left by Ben Harding, took a touch and instantly assessed the situation.
His turn clinched the room for a 22-yard right-foot shot and the ball sailed into the top left-hand corner, giving Morecambe’s 6ft 4in goalkeeper Barry Roche no chance.
It was the finish of a proper marksman, and the Gulls’ fans are hoping that there is plenty more where that came from.
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The goal helped to spark a spirited second-half display from United, which they badly needed after a tame effort before the interval.
Although Billy Bodin hit the bar in the 14th minute, after good work by Jordan Chapell, unchanged Torquay were a touch fortunate to be only one goal down after 45 minutes.
Martin Rice had to dive full-length to his left to tip away a Joe Mwasile shot after three minutes, and Williams hit the outside of the post before he gave the Shrimps a 25th-minute lead.
Making the most of Andy Fleming’s counter-attack pass, Williams unleashed a 25-yard shot which served and dipped on its way over Rice. Like Roche later, United’s ’keeper was left clutching thin air.
Williams is a talented two-footed player who is surely destined for bigger and better things, and in the first half he, veteran anchor man Stuart Drummond and Fleming ran the show in midfield.
Dale Tonge was booked for a foul on the pacy Mwasile midway through the half, which would cost him dear later in the match, and it was not until the 43rd minute that Roche had to make a serious save, diving across his goal to tip away Harding’s free-kick from just outside the area.
United manager Alan Knill must have made some pretty emphatic points at half-time, because his players restarted in a visibly higher gear.
Hawley and Chapell had both been inches away from finishing a Bodin cross before Hawley produced his “special” ten minutes into the half.
Never once did the Gulls look like settling for a point. They put pressure on ball and man much better than they had in the first half.
Callum Ball, Aaron Downes, Harding and Mansell all went close, Mansell snatching at an excellent chance after Andy Parrish could get no power on a header from Tonge’s cross.
Morecambe had their moments, Williams setting up chances for Tony Diagne and Fleming and Rice pulling off another fine save from a glancing header by Sampson.
United were still well worth a point, yet they nearly jeopardised that return in the closing stages. Five minutes from time, Tonge did his best to check himself when he realised he was beaten, but he still took substitute Joe McGee out in a touchline challenge, and referee Richard Clark pulled out his yellow card again and then a red.
Skipper Mansell was pressed into service in the right-back slot he filled reluctantly for so long under former boss Paul Buckle.
In the third and last minute of stoppage time, Courtney Cameron lost possession when he should have held it in Morecambe’s half, and a few seconds later Williams slipped McGee clear to hit a post.
Now that would have been a real giveaway.