Solihull Moors 1 Torquay United 2

Torquay United player Asa Hall celebrates at the final whistle during the Vanarama National League M

Torquay United player Asa Hall celebrates at the final whistle during the Vanarama National League Match between Solihull Moors and Torquay United at Damson Parkway, Solihull on February 23 - PHOTO: Steve Bond/PPAUK - Credit: Steve Bond/Pinnacle

SOLIHULL MOORS 1 TORQUAY UNITED 2  

Torquay United survived a late barrage and the sending-off of goalkeeper Shaun MacDonald to pull off a psychologically vital win at Solihull Moors and keep the four-point gap to National League title chasers Sutton United.  

Gary Johnson’s Gulls, with new striker signing Scott Boden making his debut off the bench, fully deserved a 2-0 lead given them by captain Asa Hall’s first-half penalty – his third in two games – and Billy Waters’ clever finish in the 63rd minute.  

But in 13 minutes of stoppage-time at windy Damson Park, most of it caused by a head injury to defender Joe Lewis, MacDonald was dismissed for two bookings, Moors pulled a goal back through Alex Gudger, and United had to hang on in a nervous finale.  

It was only their second win in an eight-game league run which has worried Gulls fans, but it was all the more important for that.  

Johnson, who had completed the loan signing of 31-year-old Boden just in time for the Chesterfield centre-forward to play, recalled Matt Buse in midfield for striker Josh Umerah and left Waters on his own up front in an effort to make United harder to beat in the wake of Saturday’s 2-3 defeat by FC Halifax Town.  

It worked.  

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United were nearly caught on the counter twice early in the first half, Adam Rooney and Callum Maycock both off-target for Moors, but they never allowed it to happen again.  

Twice Ben Whitfield nearly scored, as Torquay’s workrate forced mistakes and their passing gave them the upper hand.  

In the 17th minute referee Martin Woods ruled that Kyle Howkins had handled Whitfield’s cross from the left – Howkins did ‘lean’ towards the ball – and Hall slammed the penalty into the left of the net for his ninth goal of the season.  

It was no more than the skipper deserved for an outstanding display. Waters just missed a good chance at the near-post, from Adam Randell’s cross on the stroke of halftime, but he produced a top-drawer finish in the 63rd minute.  

Solihull had sent on ‘beanpole’ striker Kyle Hudlin at the interval, going big and long with the wind behind them, but it was another classy pass by Randell which set up Waters’ goal.  

The striker ran onto the through-ball, took a touch, checked back on his right foot and tucked a shot into the bottom right-hand corner before goalie Ryan Boot and a retreating defender could stop him…2-0.  

From then on it was a determined and often brave rearguard action, with Boden on for Waters in the 75th minute. Lewis needed prolonged treatment to a head knock, gutsily sustained, but so well did United defend that Solihull were allowed few chances.  

In the 89th minute MacDonald was booked for time wasting and when he badly misjudged a dash out of his area and collided with Hudlin moments later, he was off.  

Johnson sent on loanee James Hamon, sacrificing Whitfield, but Gudger still hooked in from close range in the 98th minute after United, for once, failed to deal with a long throw.  

Mr Woods played another five minutes after that, but United held on – and deservedly so.  

Sutton, who must have known that Torquay were winning, forced a last-gasp 2-1 win at Dagenham, but Notts County drew 0-0 at Stockport and Hartlepool did the same at Wrexham. 

Solihull Moors (3-5-2): Boot; Cameron (Donowa 83), Howkins, Gudger; Coxe (Usher-Shipway 64), Storer, Gleeson (Hudlin 46), Sbarra, Cranston; Roon, Maycock;subs not used – Clayton, Piggott.

Booked: Sbarra 29, Hudlin 46, Cranston 89, Storer 90+4.

Torquay United (4-4-1-1): MacDonald; Wynter, Sherring, Lewis, Andrews; Buse, Randell, Hall, Whitfield (Hamon 90+5): Lemonheigh-Evans; Waters (Boden 75): subs not used – Koszela, Street, Umerah.

Booked: MacDonald 89, Wynter 90+4. Sent Off: MacDonald 90+5. Referee: Martin Woods (Lancs).