Torquay United 0 Bromley 0
- Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK
So near and yet so far for Torquay United after they did everything but score on a frustrating afternoon against Bromley at Plainmoor.
Gary Johnson's Gulls are two points clear at the top of the National League with three games to go, but their failure to hit the net this time hands the title advantage back to Sutton United, who have a game in hand.
United hit the woodwork and forced Bromley ‘keeper Mark Cousins into a series of saves which made him the visitors' man of the match, but they also missed two wonderful chances for Scott Boden and sub Benji Kimpioka as they piled on the pressure in the last half-hour.
Torquay played some good football at times, and they deserved to win, but they could not come up with the final penetrating pass or the finish which would have kept them in the promotion driving seat.
An injury to centre-back Gary Warren forced Johnson to make one change from the side which started the 2-0 win at Chesterfield seven days before.
But Joe Lewis was fit to return in Warren's place.
Bromley recalled experienced ex-Millwall stalwart Liam Trotter in midfield.
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United came within an ace of taking the lead in only the third minute.
Boden beat the advancing Cousins on a Ben Wynter pass, lifted the ball over the Bromley keeper and watched the ball hit the left angle of post and bar.
The Gulls played the better football throughout the first half, the combinations of Wynter and Adam Randell on the right and Dean Moxey and Jake Andrews on the left stretching the visiting defence.
Three times, Cousins had to save Andrews’ shots, one from an Asa Hall pass, one from a Wynter cross and the third from a free-kick 25 yards out.
Bromley midfielder Billy Bingham was warned twice by referee Tom Reeves for foul tackles before he was booked in the 29th minute.
But Lewis followed him into the book in the 40th minute, just before Andrews dropped United's fourth corner of the half beyond the far post and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans' volley was deflected behind by Charlie Fox.
United had been well on top in the first half, and it was almost one-way traffic in the second.
Johnson waited until the 62nd minute before making a typically aggressive double-substitution - Kimpioka for Waters and Armani Little for Andrews.
In the space of five minutes Sam Sherring, again in imperious form at centre-back, sent a diving near-post header just wide of the far post from Little's corner and then, in the 67th minute, Boden should have scored.
Little's corner from the right found him unmarked at the far post, but he headed into the side-netting when he looked certain to score.
Lucas Covolan was a virtual spectator for long periods, but the wind nearly caught him out when he had to tip a Frankie Raymond free-kick over his bar after it had threatened to beat him overhead.
Alex Mitchell also headed a decent chance over for Bromley with ten minutes to go.
But there was still time for United to force the winner - and they so nearly did it.
They appealed for a penalty when Hall went down in the goalmouth - referee Tom Reeves would have none of it - just before Moxey volleyed over the bar.
But it was in stoppage-time that Kimpioka, showing good strength, muscled two defenders aside, bore down on Cousins, but could not beat him, Cousins advancing to parry his shot.
Torquay United (4-4-2): Covolan; Wyner, Sherring, Lewis, Moxey; Randell, Lemonheigh-Evans, Hall, Andrews (Little 62); Waters (Kimpioka 62), Boden ((Umerah 83); MacDonald (gk), Buse.
Booked: Lewis 40.
Bromley (4-4-2): Cousins; Kizzi, Mitchell, Bush, Fox; Arthurs (Campbell 59), Bingham, Trotter, Coulson (Raymond 71); Williamson, Cheek (Alabi 83); subs not used - Holland, Najia (gk).
Booked: Bingham 29.
Referee: Tom Reeves (Coventry)