Torquay United 1 Southend United 0

Goal celebrations for Connor Lemonheigh-Evans of Torquay United during the National League match bet

Goal celebrations for Connor Lemonheigh-Evans of Torquay United during the National League match between Torquay United and Southend United at Plainmoor Torquay, Devon on Saturday 18th September 2021 - PHOTO: Dave Crawford/PPAUK - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

Connor Lemonheigh-Evans' 90th minute goal raised the roof and earned Torquay United's overdue first home win of the season after an afternoon of unstinting effort from Gary Johnson's Gulls.

With 'back home' goalkeeper Shaun MacDonald keeping an important and decisive 'clean sheet' and Joe Lewis outstanding at centre-back between Ben Wynter and Dean Moxey, United finally wore down a stubborn Southend side which looked sure to take home a point after soaking up strong pressure in the closing stages.

But Lemonheigh-Evans finished off Moxey's precision low cross from the left to send the Plainmoor crowd home happy at last - and deservedly so.

There was a surprise return for MacDonald, back in place of concussion victim Mark Halstead after turning down a new deal in the summer.

Johnson dropped centre-back Ali Omar and reshuffled his defence, and he also promoted striker Klaidi Lolos for Dan Holman in attack.

Another new-look United side gave at least as good as they got in a fast, open start.

Southend were kept at full stretch, and it forced a booking for Abu Ogogo after only nine minutes.

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Gabby Rogers fired a 30-yard free-kick not far over the bar and, in the 25th minute, Danny Wright won a header on the right, retrieved the ball, crossed to Lolos and the ball just wouldn't drop for him to get a shot away as defenders got across to block him out.

Lolos did well in defence to clear a Josh Coulson header from a corner, but United had more possession and territory in their favour, without making the most of it.

Too often they looked for the difficult pass instead of the simple one, and they ended up creating far fewer chances than their pressure should have delivered.

Left wing-back Keelan O'Connell fired narrowly wide on the half-hour, just before Joe Lewis picked up a booking.

Lewis halted one of the counter-attacks which kept Gulls fans on edge - they were too susceptible to those breaks.

Just before half-time Southend twice went close - former Torquay loanee Rhys Murphy fired an angled free-kick just over the angle of post and bar from the left and Ogogo was inches off target with a header from another corner by Jack Bridge.

Southend restarted as if they'd had a strong talking-to from manager Phil Brown, and United had to man the barricades for a while.

Dalby had a turn and shot wide, but the Gulls stuck to their task, with Wynter, Lewis and Moxey all on top form.

Lewis sent one of his set-piece headers just wide - surely, he'll get one sooner than later - and a Moxey cross went begging when any touch must have scored.

Credit United for the way they piled on the pressure from then on. It was often anxious and it was never easy, but they would not be denied.

Johnson sent on Addai for Rogers and Holman for Lolos, who earned a standing ovation for his wholehearted display.

And finally, when it looked as if they would have to settle for a point, United broke through.

In the final minute of normal time Asa Hall held off a challenge, slipped the ball to Moxey on the left, he drilled a low cross to the far post where the unmarked Lemonheigh-Evans slammed the ball home from five yards out…1-0.

Torquay United (3-4-1-2): MacDonald; Wynter, Lewis, Moxey; Johnson, Lemonheigh-Evans, Hall, O'Connell (Omar 90+2); Rogers (Addai 70); Lolos (Holman 80), Wright; subs not used - Martin, Brzozowski.

Booked: Lewis 34.

Southend United (3-5-2): Arnold; White, Coulson, Ralph; Egbri, Ogogo, Atkinson, Dunne, Bridge (Kargbo 80); Dalby, Murphy (Dennis 67); subs not used - Hobson, Seaden, Demetriou..

Booked: Ogogo 9, Ralph 90+1.

Referee: Scott Jackson (Somerset).

Attendance: 2,301.

Goal celebrations for Connor Lemonheigh-Evans of Torquay United during the National League match bet

Goal celebrations for Connor Lemonheigh-Evans of Torquay United during the National League match between Torquay United and Southend United at Plainmoor Torquay, Devon on Saturday 18th September 2021 - PHOTO: Dave Crawford/PPAUK - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

Goal celebrations for Connor Lemonheigh-Evans of Torquay United during the National League match bet

Goal celebrations for Connor Lemonheigh-Evans of Torquay United during the National League match between Torquay United and Southend United at Plainmoor Torquay, Devon on Saturday 18th September 2021 - PHOTO: Dave Crawford/PPAUK - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK