City's pre-season preparation suffered a blow as they were beaten 4-1 in a hot-headed encounter at Torquay United.
Pierce Sweeney was sent off as the Grecians took a hit early on, going in 2-0 down at the break before conceding twice more in the second half. Ryan Trevitt scored late on from the spot for the Grecians.
It was back to normality for this pre-season game, as Gary Caldwell named a starting XI with the usual seven substitutes, with a look towards the season starting in two weeks. Viljami Sinisalo came in in goal for his debut following his loan move from Villa this week.
There was a frantic start to the game at Plainmoor, as City launched an immediate attack on the Gulls defence with James Scott scooting the ball back to Sam Nombe, but the City attacker was unable to finish, sending the ball just before Torquay spun the wheel in their direction.
Straight down the other end came the home side, with Brad Ash finding acres of space behind the City defence, with Sinisalo pulling off a world class stop right in front of the travelling Grecian support.
Almost as soon as the fans had settled from the first two attacks, Torquay were forward again as Lewis Collins got the better of Dion Rankine on the edge of the box to send a rocket into the back post.
It was all Torquay inside the opening ten minutes, as City were struggling to get a foothold on the game, with lots of passes being misplaced. The strong wind and rain clearly working against the reds.
Torquay doubled their lead on the 15th minute mark as Brad Ash unleashed from range catching out the City defence and keeper, making it 2-0 to the Gulls.
Carnage ensued from the immediate kick off as a nasty challenge from Tom Lapslie sent Ryan Trevitt sprawling to the ground. From that challenge Sweeney ran in arms raised sending Lapslie to the ground as things threatened to boil over on the English Riviera. Sweeney was sent for an early bath, though video footage suggests Lapslie was lucky to avoid anything more than a yellow after a dangerous tackle.
As the game approached the 35th minute, and tackles still flying in, Aaron Jarvis found his name taken by the referee as he awarded a yellow card for a late challenge on Hartridge.
On the cusp of half time, City had their first proper chance since the opening minute as Nombe was able to flick the ball onto an on-running Mitchell, but the left-wing back's strike didn’t have enough power to trouble Mark Halstead in the Torquay net.
City started the second half exactly how they didn’t want to, conceding a goal only four minutes in. While attempting to play out from the back, City were caught out, allowing Jack Stobbs to dink a finish over every City player into the back of the net, making it three unanswered for the home side.
Gary made a double change with Scott and Aitchison replaced by Pedro Borges and Vincent Harper, with something different needed to change the tide for City with half an hour remaining.
City, down to ten men, were struggling to find any hold on the game, with their usual playing out from the back tactic being nullified at every attempt by the home side, who were using the extra man very much to their advantage.
With a corner in the 80th minute, City had a sight on goal, a header from Hartridge had Halstead scrambling across his goal, but it went just wide of the far post.
Added time saw one last bit of action for the home side as they were awarded a penalty for a shirt pull, allowing captain Asa Hall to make it 4-0 to the Gulls.
Deep into added time, City were awarded a penalty of their own. It was Trevitt who was brought down and it was him who stepped up for a mere consolation.
City’s next outing is a double header on Tuesday 25th July as they take on Championship outfit Bristol City and their fourth and final National League South side Weston-Super-Mare.
Torquay: Halstead, Lapslie (Jenkins-Davies), Hall ©, Jarvis (Crowe), Collins, Ash (Hanson), McGavin, Craske (Thomas), Donnellan (Marshall), Tomlinson, Stobbs (Martin)
City: Sinisalo, Rankine (Billington), Sweeney, Aimson ©, Hartridge, Mitchell (O’Connor), Trevitt, Cole (Diabate), Aitchison (Harper), Scott (Borges), Nombe (Cox)
Subs: Woods, Cox
Referee: Paul Johnson
Attendance: 3014 (1110 away)