Gulls downed by two late goals

Torbay Weekly

Torquay United 0 Solihull Moors 2

Visibly missing the presence of centre-forward Danny Wright, who limped off after less than six minutes, Torquay United's youthful spirit was finally snuffed out by two Solihull Moors goals in the last five minutes in front of nearly 2,500 fans at Plainmoor.

The loss of Wright was a major factor in an attack that had plenty of effort and invention, but much less physique and experience than the in-form Moors, who won with goals by towering substitute Kyle Hudlin in the 85th minute and Andrew Dallas - his NINTH goal in three games! - in stoppage-time.

Hudlin's goal had an element of controversy, for United skipper Asa Hall was not allowed back onto the pitch after a head-knock while Moors were building up to the goal.

But it was a case of United's continuing Covid and injury problems catching up with them after a run of 16 points from 21.

Joe Lewis, Dean Moxey and Tom Lapslie were all still ruled out, so manager Gary Johnson named an unchanged starting XI and bench after the 2-1 win at Altrincham.

Solihull sprang a surprise by introducing former Gulls centre-back Mark Ellis, after his loan move from League Two Barrow.

Stephen Wearne tested Ryan Boot to the full with a smart turn and shot before United lost Wright with less than six minutes on the clock.

The Gulls' centre-forward had just laid off a good pass to Lemonheigh-Evans when he went to ground in the middle of the pitch, and it was soon clear that a problem in his right thigh was too bad for him to continue.

On went Dan Holman, but Wright's departure obviously deprived United of a physics targetman, and there was no longer much point in hitting high balls up front or launching any similar throws up the line.

But Torquay could not be accused of deserting their passing game, for they went at Solihull with some high-tempo passing and running.

Lemonheigh-Evans and Little both had shots saved by Boot, and referee Scott Tallis also waived away loud penalty appeals when Holman appeared to get a nudge in the back as he tried to get a shot away in the 29th minute.

It was one of those which often gets given anywhere on the pitch except the penalty area.

United did struggle to add some real penetration to their build-up play and Solihull, who were bigger, stronger and more experienced, decided to wait for mistakes and hit United on the break.

They nearly did it a couple of times too - Dallas went close and, in the 36th minute, Danny Newton rose to meet a Ryan Barnett corner and headed narrowly wide of the left-hand post.

But Torquay did finish the first half on top, and the energetic Dan Martin roused the Pop Side by cutting in from the left and sending an angled shot wide by about as much as Newton's header had missed.

A mistake by Hall nearly let in Sbarra - MacDonald made one of several excellent saves that he pulled off in the second half, and Newton fired over after a mix-up between Omar and Martin.

It was those errors which kept Solihull believing that the game was theirs to win.

But the visitors were lucky to stay on terms at least twice in the second half.

Holman and Hall both went  close, but the big misses came in the 67th minute when Little, Lemonheigh-Evans and then Holman all looked certain to score, but didn't.

Then Little outpaced the Moors defence down the left, crossed low and Lemonheigh-Evans was inches away from scoring with Boot out of his ground and beaten.

MacDonald produced another brilliant save, spreading himself on  the goalline to deny Ellis in a crowded goalmouth, but the longer it went on, the more Solihull looked like making one of their counter-attacks tell.

It finally happened five minutes from time when right-back Clarke retrieved a long cross from the left by Boyes, slipped the ball to the near post where Hudlin, who had only just gone on, back heeled it first time over the line from three yards…0-1.

Johnson sent on O'Connell and Lolos for Wearne and Duke-McKenna, but Solihull rubbed salt into United's wounds when another counter saw Sbarra slip Dallas through to score in the fourth minute of stoppage-time.

That was definitely cruel on the Gulls - they did not deserve to lose by two goals.

Torquay United (4-3-2-1): MacDonald; Johnson, Wynter, Omar, Martin; Duke-McKenna (Lolos 87), Hall, Wearne (O'Connell 87); Little, Lemonheigh-Evans; Wright (Holman 6); subs not used - Halstead (gk), Felix.

Booked: None.

Solihull Moors (4-3-3): Boot; Clarke, Ellis, Gudger, Boyes; Sbarra, Maynard, Maycock; Dallas, Newton (Hudlin 81), Barnett (Osborne 73); subs not used - Cranston, Storer, Myatt.

Booked: None.

Referee: Scott Tallis (W Midlands).

Attendance: 2,469.