Torquay United have a point on the board already after holding Tranmere Rovers 0-0 at Plainmoor in the opening game of the 2017/18 season. It will be a point that Torquay should be happiest with – on paper at least – with Tranmere spending most of last season around the top of the National League and scoring plenty of goals. It is also a repeat of the score-line when the two sides met towards the end of last season.
On a sunny afternoon with both sides’ fans in full voice, Torquay and Tranmere began on the offensive. Torquay won a corner in the very first minute but Norwood testing the gloves of Clarke and then Ridehalg struck the bar with a free-kick in an eventful first five minutes. Damon Lathrope picked up the home club’s first caution of the season two minutes later after protesting too vigorously at the referee following the awarding of a foul against him. After weathering a further five minutes of this early storm, Torquay had a decent chance of their own, Ryan Higgins launching a long throw which Pittman headed over the bar. A flurry of set-pieces followed for the Gulls: two free-kicks and a corner which Josh Gowling got onto but couldn’t get on target. Luke Young’s 17th minute effort flew over the bar before, a minute later, Gosling fired one wide. McNulty, for the visitors, then picked up a yellow for a foul on Gosling, the latter sending the free-kick into Davies’ arms. With ten minutes of the half remaining, Norwood surged into the box but some good Torquay defending kept him at bay.
After the break, a robust tackle on Sam Chaney led to a stoppage and some heated exchanges. McNulty was sent off after a second yellow and Ruari Keating was also booked in this tempestuous opening ten minutes which had begun with Gowling going down injured. On the hour mark, Sean Ginty received a caution for a foul on Alabi, Buxton’s long-range free-kick saved by Clarke. Two minutes later, the home goalkeeper was called into action again, pushing the ball into the bar as Tranmere struck the woodwork for a second time. Substitute Reuben Reid almost set up a goal for Keating but the linesman’s flag brought an end to that effort. Norwood got clear in the box with just under 20 minutes remaining but fired high and wide. At the other end, Reid curled one into Davies’ arms from outside the box. Fellow substitute Jordan Lee came closer for Torquay, fizzing a goal inches wide in the 76th minute. Tranmere’s hopes of breaking the deadlock were dealt a blow six minutes from time as their biggest goal threat Norwood became their second player to be dismissed. The Gulls nearly took full advantage but a goal-line clearance, two minutes from the whistle proved to be the last action in an eventful goalless draw.
TUFC: Clarke (GK), Lathrope (Reid 64), McGinty, Gowling (C), Chaney, Young, Pittman (Gray 70), Keating, Gosling (Lee 70), Klukowski, Higgins. Unused subs: Anderson, Osborn (GK).
Attendance: 3162 (492 away)