Great game in horrid conditions

Torbay Weekly

Torquay United manager Gary Johnson paid tribute to both teams and the Plainmoor groundstaff after an exciting 2-2 draw against Dagenham & Redbridge in gluepot conditions.

The Gulls scored after only 19 seconds, through skipper Asa Hall, and made it 2-0 with a Danny Wright goal in the 12th minute.

But fifth-placed Dagenham fought back with a Josh Walker close-range stab before half-time, equalised through Angelo Balanta in the 71st minute and dominated long periods of the second half.

"After all the rain we've had, our groundsman has done great, but both teams deserve a lot of credit for putting on such a good game on that pitch," said Johnson.

"To the neutral, it would have been a good game. But, of course, we're disappointed, because we started so well.

"They (Dagenham) are a very good team - I thought we looked a very good team for 20 minutes, they looked a good team for an hour, but we gave them too much oxygen.

"If we could have got to half-time at 2-0, it might have been different, but their goal before half-time gave them a bit more energy.

"We showed a real desire to keep the ball out of our own net, and we had a couple of good chances and a clear penalty in the second half.

"But we got a point. That's four wins, a draw and a loss in six games, and we would have taken that a few weeks ago."

United's injury situation had seemed to be clearing up before the game, but Johnson reported that Armani Little (dead leg) and Tom Lapslie (groin) were both injured, while Chiori Johnson and Joe Felix were out with Covid isolation issues and Sinclair Armstrong and Jack Sparkes had returned to QPR and Exeter City after loan spells.

Johnson revealed that Accrington Stanley's Harry Perritt had been given compassionate leave for family reasons before the end of his loan, but added: "We had to ask Harry to drive back down for this last game, and I thought he did very well in midfield marking (Angelo) Balanta."

New Sunderland loanee Stephen Wearne started in midfield, with Johnson saying: "I thought he had a brilliant first half, but in Under-23 football you don't have to run as hard or with the same intensity as in the National League, and he will come on for that game."

United don't play again for a fortnight - the pitch also has until January 25 (Solihull Moors) until the next home game - and Johnson added: "We've got a chance to get people back fully fit at last."