Torquay United Manager Gary Johnson - Credit: Pinnacle

Frantic finish as Gulls draw with Dagenham & Redbridge

Torbay Weekly

DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE 0 TORQUAY UNITED 0

A well-deserved fifth 'clean sheet' in eight games, which should do the Player Of The Year claims of goalkeeper Shaun MacDonald and his defenders no harm, earned Torquay United another Bank Holiday point at Dagenham & Redbridge.

Centre-back Ali Omar came up with a stoppage-time goal line clearance to make sure of a hard-earned draw only 48 hours after Saturday's 1-1 stalemate with Maidenhead United.

Both sides showed the effects of two games in quick succession, until they roused themselves into a frantic finish which nearly saw winners at both ends.

The result may change little for Gary Johnson's Gulls, but it certainly did little for Play-Off chasing Dagenham.

A knock to Dan Martin prompted one change in United's side - Chiori Johnson underlined his versatility by coming in at left wing-back.  Otherwise, it was the same XI which had started against Maidenhead.

Daggers boss Daryl McMahon made two changes to his in-form side (W8 D2 L2), recalling Manny Onariase in defence and Mo Sagaf in midfield.

If any Gulls fans had worried, in the wake of the Maidenhead disappointment, that the season might be 'over' with four games to go, they will have been cheered up.

United certainly looked up for the challenge against a side still with real hopes of making the post-season.

Stephen Duke-McKenna was in lively form at right wing-back, supplying several promising crosses in the first half - Danny Wright headed one of them wide after only three minutes and Daggers keeper Elliot Justham later did well to tip another over his bar with Ali Omar waiting to finish.

Armani Little just missed the angle of post and bar with a trademark shot after seizing onto a mistake by Will Wright.

But Dagenham had their moments too.

Portuguese winger Mauro Vilhete was a clear threat on their left, and Ben Wynter, Joe Lewis and Omar all had to come up with key blocks and tackles as Paul McCallum and Junior Morias threatened a breakthrough for the hosts.

Shaun MacDonald was also the busier of the two goalies, making good saves off his line from McCallum in the eleventh minute and Vilhete in the 34th.

Skipper Asa Hall may have had problem during the first half, for he was replaced at the interval by Joe Felix, and Dagenham followed soon after the restart, sending on winger Myles Weston for defender Josh Hare.

Justham made a routine save from Chiori Johnson, but in the 54th minute MacDonald had to make a much better one, diving full-length to tip away a well-struck goalbound shot by McCallum.

The Daggers applied steady pressure in the early stages of the second half, and Wynter did well to block a shot by Vilhete after a strong run by the winger.

It was Klaidi Lolos for Danny Wright in the 67th minute, and United did start to search for more than a point with about 20 minutes to go.

The intent was there, but the extra quality to make it happen wasn't.

Just when a pretty forgettable draw seemed certain, the game sprang into life as the clock moved into five minutes of stoppage-time.

Duke-McKenna was not far wide with a shot at one end, Omar somehow got back to clear Walker's shot off his line at the other and, all in the space of 60 seconds, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans missed when he looked odds-on to score.

There was even time for referee Gary Parsons to waive away 'handball' penalty appeals when Vilhere crossed one last time into United's goalmouth.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Dagenham & Redbridge (4-4-2): Justham; Hare (Weston 48), Onariase, Wright, Johnson; Sagaf (Walker 75), Robinson, Comley, Vilhete; Morias, McCallum; subs not used - Wilson, Zouma, Ling.

Booked: McCallum 67.

Torquay United (3-5-2): MacDonald; Wynter, Lewis, Omar, Johnson; Duke-McKenna, Lapslie (Edwards 86), Hall (Felix 46), Little, Johnson; Wright (Lolos 67), Lemonheigh-Evans; subs not used - Halstead, O'Connell.

Booked: Lapslie 38, Felix 64, Wynter 70, Lolos 79.

Referee: Gary Parsons (Hants).

Attendance: 1,752 (186 Gulls fans).

----------------------------------------------------------------------

The Gulls' Under-18 side duly completed a 'treble' of trophies this season when they beat Tavistock Community 6-0 in the Devon Youth Cup Final at County HQ, Newton Abbot.

Chris Todd's team had already lifted the SW Counties Youth League and Cup, with most of the squad also in the South Devon College side which won the ECFA Senior Cup against Yorkshire's Bishop Burton (2-1) at Doncaster Rovers last week.

United were too good for Tavistock, goals by Jack Winsor, Lewis Brooks and James Rowe giving them a 3-0 half-time lead.

Rowe, Jayden Gilbert and Joe Edmonds, who had laid on two goals, completed the victory in the second half, prompting Todd to say: "They performed again, as they always do.

"There's so much talent in the side, and to do what they've done this year is incredible."

BY A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT