Plainmoor - Credit: TUFC

Gulls' 90th minute goal forces draw at Plainmoor

Torbay Weekly

TORQUAY UNITED 1 MAIDENHEAD UNITED 1

By Dave Thomas

Joe Lewis’ 90th minute header saved below-par Torquay United from what would have been a numbing defeat at the hands of Maidenhead United on another frustrating afternoon at Plainmoor.

Gary Johnson’s Gulls trailed to Sam Barratt’s spectacular 56th minute volley – one of the few highlights of the game – before sheer effort and perseverance finally paid off with Lewis’ late, late equaliser.

Johnson had done his best to talk the talk, keeping those faint Play-Off hopes alive, but his team could not walk the walk in an often flat and mistake-ridden display. And it all came on a day when, for once, many other results went for them.

Johnson made one change, bringing Ali Omar in at centre-back for the injured Dean Moxey.

Maidenhead were without their 17-goal leading scorer Josh Kelly, but manager Alan Devonshire did have ex-Gulls winger Dan Sparkes back fit for a return to the bench.

The first half matched the subdued atmosphere inside Plainmoor.

The diehards were there, but the noise that had lifted the Gulls to heights against Notts County was missing and United struggled to inspire the supporters.

Maidenhead worked hard to frustrate them, giving Torquay’s key men little time or space – especially Stephen Duke-McKenna, who was double-marked on the right wing.

Decision making was even more important, and United often made the wrong ones – Armani Little was clear on the left in the eleventh minute and chose to cross instead of shoot with the keeper to beat.

Eight minutes later Omar fired over when a Little free-kick from the left dropped at his feet at the far post.

Danny Wright just failed to get his head on a Little free-kick on the half-hour, but the clearest chance arrived in the 34th minute.

Duke-McKenna and Little combined to set up Wright for a shot, his aim was true from 12 yards, but Jack Wakely deflected the effort behind.

Wells for Maidenhead and Wynter for United swapped powerful long range shots which brought good saves from both keepers just before half-time.

Torquay started with a bit more urgency on the restart, Omar booked for a ‘dive’ as he tried to force his way through for a shot.

But the visitors sensed that more than a draw might be on the cards, and they proved it in the 56th minute.

Barratt came short for an Adams free-kick from the left, flicked the ball up and over LemonheighEvans and then hit a peach of a left-foot volley into the roof of the net from 15 yards… 0-1.

Daniel Gyollai made two more excellent saves from Wright with a header and then Lapslie, played through by Wright, before Johnson made a double change – Chiori Johnson and Keelan O’Connell for Martin and Duke-McKenna.

United may not have found much fluency, but they did trying to the end, and they had their reward.

Lemonheigh-Evans missed a clear chance when Wright nodded down Hall’s pass.

But the clock was just moving into stoppage-time when Wynter hooked a half-cleared Little corner back into the goalmouth and Lewis rose to head just inside the left-hand post from five yards… 1-1.

United might even have won it from there – no, should have won it.

Sub Klaidi Lolos was through, but finished weakly, and Wright’s last-gasp header was heading for the top corner before Gyollai arched up and tipped it away.

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Torquay United (4-4-1-1): MacDonald; Wynter, Lewis, Omar (Lolos 90+1), Martin (O’Connell 72); Duke-McKenna (Johnson 72), Lapslie, Hall, Little; Lemonheigh-Evans; Wright; subs not used – Halstead, Edwards.

Booked: Omar 49.

Maidenhead United (4-4-1-1) : Gyollai; Sheckleford (Sparkes 72), Wakely, Massey, Wells; Adams, Donnellan, Upward, Barratt (Smith 81); Ferdinand; Blissett; subs not used – Keetch, Acquah, McCoulsky.

Booked: None.

Referee: Scott Jackson (Hants).

Attendance: 2,148 (70 Maidenhead fans).