Dagenham & Redbridge 1 Torquay United 0
- Credit: James Fearn/PPAUK
Torquay United missed a big chance to cut the newly-extended gap to National League leaders Sutton United when a goal against the run of play by Angelo Balanta eleven minutes from time beat Gary Johnson's Gulls at Victoria Road and completed a 'double' for lowly Dagenham & Redbridge.
United, who had signed young Sunderland striker Benji Kimpioka on loan before the game, looked the likelier winners, especially in the second half, and Johnson had sent on muscular 21-year-old Kimpioka and fellow sub Josh Umerah in search of all three points.
But Balanta's goal came just as Sutton came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at FC Halifax Town, and United's frustration was topped off when Kimpioka hit the post in stoppage-time.
It all means that Sutton are now ten points clear of the third-placed Gulls after the League Board's decision to expunge Dover Athletic's results, costing United the three points they gained from a 2-0 win over Dover earlier in the season.
Johnson held Kimpioka back on the bench, relying on the same starting XI which had beaten King's Lynn and Solihull Moors.
But Kimpioka and fit-again Dean Moxey replaced Olaf Koszela and Matt Buse on the bench.
The first half was pretty uninspiring, from both sides.
- 1 Captain Cameron set to lead Magpies against Gulls
- 2 The little door behind the main stand
- 3 Gary Johnson reaction to Tiverton win
- 4 Decisions to be made over Covid-related postponements of cricket matches
- 5 Torquay host fourth coastal rowing regatta of league
- 6 £1,800 for four good causes as Foster’s Fund pays out
- 7 It's taken a generation but it is definitely now Paignton's turn
- 8 Tiverton Town 1 Torquay United 3
- 9 Gary's respect for Martyn Rogers
- 10 Famous Redcliffe Hotel sold for £4.5 million
But it might have been a different story if Connor Lemonheigh-Evans had taken a good chance in the eleventh minute.
Scott Boden laid the ball off to Armani Little, he clipped the ball through to Lemonheigh-Evans, but he did not trust his left foot to shoot, tried to beat the advancing Elliott Justham and the move ended up with a corner and no attempt at goal.
United were solid and hard-working in defence and midfield, restricting Dagenham to one long-range shot by Myles Weston, easily held by Lucas Covolan.
Ben Wynter also came up with a couple of important challenges, to stop Liam Gordon crossing from a dangerous position and with a block from Matt Robinson's shot.
But the Gulls' only other real opening came when Little's low cross from left appeared to be handled by a Daggers defender in the 40th minute, referee Elliott Swallow gave nothing and Ryan Law's follow-up shot was blocked.
Boden was ploughing a lone furrow up front, despite Little's best efforts to support him, and it seemed only a matter of time before Johnson turned to one of the attacking options on his bench.
Law fired over from a good spot, set up by a clever move between Andrews and Lemonheigh-Evans, before Johnson made those changes.
It was Kimpioka for Boden and, seven minutes later, Umerah for Andrews, with Little switching to left midfield.
It took the save of the game by Justham, flinging out an arm on his goalline, to keep out an Umerah header in the 68th minute.
Kimpioka also tested the Daggers' goalie before Johnson sent on Moxey for Law in the 75th minute.
United were definitely looking like the more likely winners before they were hit by what turned out to be the winner.
Balanta fired home from just outside the penalty area in the 79th minute.
Balanta also forced Covolan to a low, fingertip save moments later as United pushed more men forward in search of an equaliser.
They certainly gave it a go in the closing stages, and in injury-time Kimpioka turned in the goalmouth, following a long throw by Moxey, shot on an angle and the ball beat Justham but hit the left-hand post and rolled to safety.
Dagenham & Redbridge (3-5-2): Justham; Wright, Clark, Johnson; Weston, Sagaf (Saunders 66), Rance, Robinson, Gordon; Balanta, McCallum; subs not used - Reynolds, McQueen, Jones, Khan.
Torquay United (4-4-1-1): Covolan; Wynter, Sherring, Lewis, Law (Moxey 75); Randell, Lemonheigh-Evans, Hall, Andrews (Umerah 64); Little; Boden (Kimpioka 57); subs not used - MacDonald, Moxey, Waters.
Referee: Elliott Swallow (Lancs).