Torquay United 1 Wealdstone 1
- Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
Billy Waters' stoppage-time equaliser saved injury-hit Torquay United from a second successive home defeat against managerless Wealdstone on a perishingly cold night at Plainmoor.
Striker Waters was in the right place at the right time to drive in what could be one of the Gulls' most important goals of the season after a second half of relentless wind-blown pressure.
A draw was less than Gary Johnson's weakened side really needed, but it did leave them still eight points clear at the top of the National League, and it would have been a damaging psychological blow if they had lost.
United were without 12 senior pros, so Johnson had to be at his most inventive in team selection.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans was suspended, while Aaron Nemane, Dean Moxey and Armani Little had all joined the unavailable list.
But Josh Umerah was fit after his 'dead leg' in Saturday's 2-0 FA Trophy win at Southport, and in came Waters, Max Sheaf and Asa Hall from the weekend starting XI.
Promoted to the bench were young pros Olaf Koszela, Louie Slough and Owen Price.
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United started brightly enough, Ben Whitfield twice going close, but goalie Shaun MacDonald was busier than he should have been - he dashed off his line to clear a weak backpass by Sam Sherring and then rescued his own flat clearance with a good save from Dennon Lewis.
Johnson had to make yet another change midway through a first half in which they played into the wind - Koszela for Sheaf with a reshuffle in midfield.
But just when 0-0 at half-time looked as if it might be a springboard for something better, United were badly caught on the counter in the 36th minute.
Jacob Mendy broke down Wealdstone's right, neither Jake Andrews nor Joe Lewis stopped him from cutting inside on his left foot and beating MacDonald with a low shot from 22 yards…0-1.
United may have been below their best, in trying conditions, but you couldn't fault them for their effort.
They mounted almost non-stop pressure through the second half. Hall, Cameron and Umerah all had efforts blocked.
An Umerah header was cleared off the line by Wealdstone sub Matt Lench, and Adam Randell hit the right-hand post from 20 yards in the 81st minute.
When an inviting Whitfield free-kick went begging two minutes from time, it looked all up for United.
But in the 91st minute sub Rob Street crossed from the right, Hall had yet another shot blocked, but the ball fell for Waters at the far post and he made no mistake from eight yards - his fifth goal of the season…1-1.
Torquay United (3-5-2): MacDonald; Lewis, Sherring, Cameron; Randell, Sheaf (Koszela 33), Hall, Andrews (Street 76), Whitfield; Umerah, Waters; subs not used - Slough, Price, Hamon.
Booked: Andrews 17, Waters 61, Hall 82.
Wealdstone (4-5-1): Isted; Charles, Langston, Okimo, Cawley; Mendy, Smith, Olowu, Wishart (Lench 72), Dyer; Lewis (Emmanuel 85); subs not used - Phillips, Parish, Dalling.
Booked: Smith 54.
Referee: Jacob Miles (Sussex).