Gulls downed by Halifax at Plainmoor
- Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
Torquay United 2 FC Halifax Town 3
Two rasping drives by former Plymouth Argyle striker Jordan Slew and a third goal by - yes, you guessed it - ex-Gulls forward Billy Waters earned promotion-chasing FC Halifax Town a deserved win over Torquay United at Plainmoor.
Late goals by sub Klaidi Lolos and Armani Little in the 89th and 90th minutes - Little's ninth of the season - cheered the home fans, but Gary Johnson's Gulls went down to their third defeat in eight days, after previous losses away to Barnet and Aldershot Town.
For most of the afternoon they cannot have won over too many of the new 'Ladies Day' fans who swelled the Plainmoor crowd, but their heads never dropped and they regained some respect with the spirited fightback.
These are worrying times for United, but they actually played quite well for most of the first half - before Slew's sweetly-hit opener on the half-hour.
The trouble was that they again had little up front, where young loanee Sinclair Armstrong did not have enough support until Lolos and Dan Holman joined him in the second half.
By that time Slew had slammed a second goal in the 46th minute and poacher Waters had followed up Shaun MacDonald's parry four minutes later.
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United welcomed skipper Asa Hall back after a seven-week injury absence, and he returned in a holding midfield role, with Jake Andrews dropping to the bench.
There was no Byron Moore, but it was all-attack on that bench, with Andrews, Keelan O'Connell, Lolos and Holman all named as substitutes with goalkeeper Mark Halstead.
There was much to enjoy in a fast and open first half, in which United more than played their part.
Halifax were visibly worried about Armstrong's pace and the Gulls put together several pleasing moves.
When the Shaymen only half-cleared a Dean Moxey long throw in the fifth minute, Ben Wynter latched on to the loose ball, hit a 30-yard right-foot volley and Sam Johnson had to dive to his right to tip the ball around his right-hand post.
Halifax may have had less of the ball, but they made more of the possession they did have.
Looking to catch United on the counter, they forced MacDonald into three fine saves from Matty Warburton with a swerving effort which wrong-footed MacDonald, ex-Gulls striker Billy Waters, and Slew - Tom Lapslie cleared the follow-up off the line.
Waters also volleyed over after Jack Vale chased a 'lost' cause before the breakthrough came on the half-hour.
United were back in numbers and had not been opened up, but there was still nothing they could do when Slew turned 22-yards out and hit a peach of a right-foot shot low into the bottom left-hand corner…0-1.
Torquay responded well.
In the 39th minute, Lemonheigh-Evans slipped Armani Little into the Town area, Little drove in a cross and Niall Maher just got in front of Dan Martin to stop the United man scoring an equaliser.
United had good reason to hope that they might hit back in the second half. Instead, they were knocked out of the game in the space of five minutes after the restart.
MacDonald hardly sniffed Slew's right-foot piledriver from beyond the left edge of the area a minute into the second half - United should probably have cleared earlier...0-2
Then, Kieran Green tried his luck from long range, MacDonald parried low to his right and Waters was there to score from a narrow angle as MacDonald tried to recover his ground…0-3.
On went Holman for Moxey and Lolos for Hall.
Torquay never stopped trying, although they were lucky not to fall further behind when Jack Vale hit the post in the 72nd minute.
But that endeavour paid off at the end, when Lolos scored with a low left-foot shot and then Little hit his ninth goal of the season with an effort which deceived Johnson in the Town goal.
For a few seconds the Plainmoor faithful dreamed of a sensational comeback, but it was not to be.
Torquay United (4-1-3-2): MacDonald; Wynter, Perritt (O'Connell 60), Lewis, Moxey (Holman 54); Hall (Lolos 70); Little, Lapslie, Martin; Armstrong, Lemonheigh-Evans; subs not used - Halstead, Andrews.
Booked: Hall 56.
FC Halifax Town (4-4-2): Johnson; Warren, Debrah, Maher, Senior; Vale (Newby 76), Spence (Woods 82), Warburton (Summerfield 68), Green; Waters, Slew; subs not used - Swaby-Neavin, Gilmour.
Referee: Ryan Atkin (London).
Attendance: 2,269 (76 Town fans).