Debut consolation for Torquay United

Benji Kimpioka of Torquay United strikes a goal-bound effort during the Vanarama National League mat

Benji Kimpioka of Torquay United strikes a goal-bound effort during the Vanarama National League match between Dagenham & Redbridge and Torquay United at the Chigwell Construction Stadium, Dagenham, Greater London on Saturday 27th March 2021 | Photo: James Fearn/PPAUK - Credit: James Fearn/PPAUK

A lively second-half debut off the bench by new loan striker Benji Mbunga-Kipioka was some consolation for manager Gary Johnson after Torquay United lost 1-0 at Dagenham & Redbridge. 

Mbunga-Kipioka's signing from Sunderland, where Johnson's son Lee is now head coach, had been completed just in time for him to join the squad at Victoria Road. 

The strapping 21-year-old Swedish-born forward visibly lifted the Gulls' attack for the last half-hour, but he could not make up for what Johnson called 'a horrendous mistake' which led to the Daggers' 79th minute winner by Angelo Balanta. 

United defender Ben Wynter was 'robbed' as he tried to usher the ball over the bye-line before Balanta scored. 

Johnson said: "Ben tried to jockey the ball out of play for a goal-kick, but there wasn't enough on the ball - it was a horrendous mistake, but one that we can all make. 

"If we had taken our chances, it wouldn't have been so bad. 

"We didn't create enough, especially in the first half, but when Benji and Josh (Umerah) went on, we created a bit more. 

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"Benji only had 30-odd minutes, but he was more of a threat, and he was very unlucky at the end when his shot hit Josh almost on the line." 

Sutton, whose lead at the top of the table had been extended by the League Board's decision to expunge Dover Athletic's record, came from 0-2 down at FC Halifax Town to draw 2-2. 

They are now four points clear of Hartlepool, who drew 1-1 at Stockport (4th), and ten ahead of Torquay. 

"We knew at half-time that Sutton were losing, so it was a chance missed for us," admitted Johnson. 

"We thought we had a definite penalty on Connor (Lemonheigh-Evans) early on, although he should have done better when he was through, and we defended their main dangers, (Paul) McCallum and (Myles) Weston, well. 

"Everyone is disappointed, but there's 13 games to go, we are not giving up hope of the title yet and we need to keep working hard." 

The Gulls welcomed back fit-again defender Dean Moxey, and Danny Wright and Gary Warren, who have also recovered from hamstring and calf injuries, are hoping to play in a reserve 'friendly' against Exeter City next midweek, before Woking come to Plainmoor next (Good) Friday.