Maidenhead 4 Torquay United 1
- Credit: Darren Woolley/PPAUK
A goal down after only six minutes, Torquay United's worrying slump continued as they were hammered 4-1 by mid-table Maidenhead United - two opportunist goals from former Plainmoor centre-forward Nathan Blissett - on a miserable evening for the Gulls at York Road.
The real damage was done when Gary Johnson's men conceded three goals in eleven minutes either side of half-time.
Scott Boden grabbed a consolation penalty late on, but on a night when new leaders Sutton United won yet again (Chesterfield A 1-0), United found themselves with only two wins in 11 games and eight points behind the charging Ambers.
The rest are catching up fast too, with Wrexham (4th) and Stockport County (5th) only one and two points behind.
United's injury hoodoo struck again. Ben Whitfield's knee ligament problem, sustained in Saturday's 0-0 draw, forced him to join eight other players on the sidelines.
Johnson recalled Jake Andrews on the left of midfield, but left the rest of the side alone.
New loan signing Ryan Law was added to the subs' bench, although he went on at the interval and did well at left-back for most of the second half.
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Maidenhead were without ex-Gulls winger Dan Sparkes, who had scored in their 2-0 win over Chesterfield at the weekend, and manager Alan Devonshire brought in striker Danilo Orsi-Dadamo to play up front with Blissett.
United made the worst possible start, conceding after only six minutes.
Joe Lewis did well to stop a home attack, but his clearance was half-hit, straight to James Comley, who took a touch forward, spotted Coley's run into the box, chipped a delightful pass over Ben Wynter and Coley volleyed in first-time from eight yards…1-0.
Shaun MacDonald also had to save at the feet of Orsi-Dadamo as Torquay struggled to recover from that early setback.
But they did work their way into the game, Armani Little crossing from the right for Billy Waters to fire high and wide in the 16th minute.
A mistake by Asa Hall gave Coley the chance to shoot again in the 27th minute, MacDonald dropping to his left to save, but the Gulls' skipper then got his head to a Jake Andrews corner and Taye Ashby-Hammond had to make his only serious save of the first half.
Just as United were preparing for a 0-1 half-time talk from Johnson, they fell further behind.
In the 43rd minute Maidenhead left-back Seth Ofori-Twumasi beat Randell, crossed to the far post, Ryan Upward nodded the ball down and Blissett could hardly miss from six yards…2-0.
Johnson sent on Josh Umerah for Waters and Law for Little, which at least balanced up the defence.
But no amount of tactical switches could make up for the sort of defending which aided Maidenhead's third goal in the 50th minute.
Ofori-Twumasi beat both Lemonheigh-Evans and Wynter in a run from the left into the penalty-area, pulled a short pass back to Blissett and he poked the ball home from close-range…3-0.
Only a flying save by MacDonald denied Blissett moments later on another clever Comley pass, but it only delayed the fourth goal.
In the 54th minute Orsi-Dadamo swept in from Maidenhead's right, past Sam Sherring on the bye-line all too easily, and slammed an angled shot past MacDonald for his tenth goal of the season…4-0.
Law was harshly booked for his first serious tackle - Comley actually ran into him - before Boden went close and Johnson sent on Olaf Koszela for Hall.
What would have been an embarrassing mix-up between Lewis, who took the captain's armband and MacDonald, let Orsi-Dadamo in for another 'goal', chalked off only by an offside flag.
At least United kept going to the end, playing something like the football we were used to seeing from them before Christmas.
Lemonheigh-Evans missed a clear chance, getting no power behind his close-range header on a Koszela right-wing cross.
Finally, Umerah nodded down for Boden the area, he was pushed over by Bradley Keetch as he was about to shoot and referee Tom Reeves pointed to the spot.
Boden took the penalty himself, driving the ball down the middle as Ashby-Hammond dived to his right…4-1.
Some slight consolation? Hardly even that.
Maidenhead United (4-3-1-2): Ashby-Hammond; Sheckleford, Parry, Massey, Ofori-Twumasi; Comley (Keetch 88), Ince, Coley (Barratt 71); Upward; Orsi-Dadamo, Blissett; subs not used - Kelly, Wiltshire, Smith.
Booked: Keetch 88.
Torquay United (4-4-2): MacDonald; Randell, Wynter, Sherring, Lewis; Little (Law 46), Hall (Koszela 59), Lemonheigh-Evans, Andrews; Boden, Waters (Umerah 46); subs not used - Covolan, Buse.
Booked: Hall 18, Andrews 44, Law 57.
Referee: Tom Reeves (Warwicks).