Solihull Moors 2 Torquay United 1
- Credit: Steve Bond/Pinnacle
Torquay United showed real spirit when it looked as if they might suffer a heavy defeat at the hands of Solihull Moors, but substitute Klaidi Lolos' goal ten minutes from time was not enough to stop the Gulls slipping to a fourth defeat in their opening six games of the National League season.
It took a disputed decision by referee Alan Dale, turning down loud penalty appeals for a tackle on Connor Lemonheigh-Evans in the 89th minute, to deny United the chance to snatch a point at Damson Park.
But Gary Johnson's side really lost the match during a torrid start in which Moors hit the woodwork twice in the first ten minutes, took the lead through ex-Cambridge forward and Weymouth loanee Andrew Dallas after 32 minutes and had several other good chances.
It looked bleak for the Gulls when Moors' attacking midfielder Joe Sbarra made it 2-0 just after half-time.
But United, with goalkeeper Marcin Brzozoswki, new signing Alex Addai and Lolos all on from the subs' bench, dug in and Lolos' first goal for the club gave them some hope.
Johnson recalled Gabby Rogers for the injured Armani Little in another reshuffled midfield.
Ex-Cheltenham winger Addai, signed on a short-term contract on the day of the game, joined the squad.
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Solihull were without their 6ft 9in tall centre-forward Kyle Hudlin, and manager Neal Ardley made three changes from the side which won 2-1 at Aldershot at the weekend.
Justin Donowa, Matt Preston and striker Danny Newton all came into the starting XI.
If United were hoping to ease their way into the game, they were mistaken.
Solihull went at them with gusto from the first whistle and hit the woodwork twice in the first ten minutes.
First, Donowa hit the left-hand post, Mark Halstead grabbing the rebound. Then Newton hit the bar from 20 yards with Halstead beaten.
An injury to Joe Lewis did nothing to help matters, United's young defender doing well to shake off the knock and carry on.
After several other scares, United eventually calmed things down and, after Dan Holman forced a corner, they were just getting to grips with the game when Moors took the lead in the 32nd minute.
Donowa had only just lost his footing after a Dallas through-ball had set him up when Callum Maycock then slipped Dallas through.
From a tight angle, Dallas beat Halstead with a shot into the roof of the net…1-0.
The Gulls were lucky not to fall further behind in the 43rd minute when Sbarra beat Lewis for pace through the middle.
Lewis held off a risky tackle, the advancing Halstead made himself 'big' and Sbarra slid the chance just wide.
Rogers did force Ryan Boot into a routine save with a free-kick on the stroke of half-time, but the interval came with Torquay needing to find another gear to haul themselves back into the game.
Halstead must have had a problem, for he was withdrawn at the interval and Brzozowski took over in goal.
The last thing United needed was a second Solihull goal, and it came only three minutes after the restart.
Rogers dwelled on the ball too long in the build-up, Dallas suddenly had a 3-v-2 in his favour and the Scot coolly found Newton, who set up Sbarra for the finish…2-0.
Holman lifted the mood of the travelling Gulls fans with a smart touch and shot that Ryan Boot did well to save for a corner - a rare moment of concern for a Moors defence which had few of them to that point.
Johnson had seen enough to make his second two changes in the 62nd minute - off went Chiori Johnson, who was carrying a knock, and Holman, and on went new boy Addai and Lolos.
Lolos looked sharp from the moment he took the field and, after Moors replaced Sbarra with James Ball, the former Plymouth Argyle forward gave United hope with an opportunist goal in the 80th minute.
Addai was the 'assister', with a shot from the right which was blocked, and Lolos was there with a firm finish from eight yards…2-1.
More than 200 Torquay fans immediately found their voices, and suddenly it was Solihull's turn to worry for the first time in the match.
The key moment of the finale came with a couple of minutes left.
Lemonheigh-Evans did well to keep the ball in play, he cut into the penalty area, went down under a defender's challenge and United howled for a penalty.
There appeared to be 'contact', but referee Alan Dale ruled that the Gulls' man had gone to ground too easily and booked him for 'simulation'.
It was a big decision and it went against the Gulls, who finished the match so much better than they had started it.
Solihull Moors (3-5-2): Boot; Howe, Gudger, Preston; Maycock, Sbarra (Ball 77), Storer, Donowa (Williams 90+1), Cranston; Newton, Dallas; subs not used - Rooney, Boyes, Maynard.
Torquay United (4-4-2): Halstead (Brzozowski 46); Wynter, Lewis, Omar, Moxey; Johnson (Addai 62), Lemonheigh-Evans, Hall, Rogers; Holman (Lolos 62), Wright; subs not used - Martin, O'Connell.
Booked: Lemonheigh-Evans 89, Lewis 90+4).
Referee: Alan Dale (Suffolk).
Attendance: 1,232 (212 Gulls fans).