Torquay United 1 King's Lynn 0
- Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
Scott Boden's opportunist goal just after half-time - their first from open play for 433 minutes! - earned Torquay United a deserved and precious victory over King's Lynn Town at Plainmoor after a torrid spell of form had knocked Gary Johnson's Gulls off the top of the National League.
On-loan Boden poked the ball home after Lynn goalie Theo Richardson spilled Connor Lemonheigh-Evans' 18-yard shot.
It was may not have been a goal to remember, but it was none the less important for that. After all, United had not won at Plainmoor since their 6-1 rout of Yeovil Town on Boxing Day.
The news that leaders Sutton United, who have won so many games with last-gasp goals, had conceded a 96th minute equaliser (1-1) at home to Stockport County broadened the grin on the faces of Torquay fans.
Second-placed Hartlepool United also won, so the situation at the top is hardly transformed. But at least the Gulls can now approachTuesday's home game at Solihull Moors with an extra spring in their step.
Johnson recalled Lucas Covolan in goal and reshuffled his defence, with new loan signing Ryan Law making his first start at left-back.
Lynn fielded the same starting XI that drew 2-2 with Hartlepool in midweek, and they once again had only four subs available.
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United nearly fell behind in the second minute.
Law conceded a free-kick just outside the box, Tyler Denton hit the bar from 20 yards and Covolan then made a brilliant save with his legs when Jordan Richards looked certain to convert the rebound.
But, apart from the odd nervy moment in defence, it was all Torquay from then until half-time.
The conduit was man-of-the-match Jake Andrews.
United's left midfielder poured a stream of crosses, many of them invitingly early, into the Town goalmouth.
From one Andrews free-kick, Sam Sherring headed over when he might have hit the target, before a lovely flick by Boden set Armani Little away down the left and only a fingertip by Theo Richardson kept Lynn on terms.
In the 14th minute Asa Hall produced a lovely touch on a Randell pass, Richardson saved his shot and Boden somehow missed a 'sitter' on the rebound - an offside flag spared his blushes.
Randell and Lewis were booked early on, a little harshly in both cases.
Hall and Randell both went close - Andrews the supplier again - before another smart move nearly forced the breakthrough in first-half stoppage-time.
Andrews crossed, Hall headed down at the far-post and Boden hit a 'bicycle' kick which Richardson held - an inch or two either side and United would have been in front.
Little was playing right up alongside Boden, and there was nothing wrong with the pace and tempo of an entertaining game, with Lynn doing their best to stay with United every step of the way.
United needed a goal, and they got it in the 46th minute.
Lemonheigh-Evans had a crack from the edge of the Town area, Richardson could not hold the effort low down and Boden was there to hold off a defender and bundle the ball over the unguarded line…1-0.
Almost immediately Covolan nearly handed the visitors a chance with a mishit clearance, and United fans must have spent most of the second half sweating on their side making a costly defence at the back.
In the end, it never came.
It took Town, who threw on three fresh strikers, an hour to force a corner and, for all their hard work, Covolan did not have a serious save to make during the second 45 minutes.
Law - he's had had little competitive football in recent months - did well to last the full game, while Johnson sent on first Umerah and then Buse late on to save the tired legs of Boden and Little, who had both put in real shifts up front.
United kept beavering away without the ball, to force a mistake in the Town defence, and one came in the 80th minute when Little seized on a misplaced pass and drew the save of the game from Richardson with a fierce shot.
Torquay did not make the most of several good attacking positions, but they saw out the second half without too many scares, and there were plenty of relieved smiles at the final whistle.
Torquay United (4-4-1-1): Covolan; Wynter, Lewis, Sherring, Law; Randell, Lemonheigh-Evans, Hall, Andrews; Little (Buse 90+1); Boden (Umerah 77); subs not used - MacDonald, Koszela, Waters.
Booked: Randell 9, Lewis 22, Little 87.
King's Lynn Town (4-5-1): Richardson; Callan-McFadden, Smith, Fleming; Mitchell, Clunan, Gyasi (Gash 58), Richards (Jackson 72), Carey; Payne (Davies 72); subs not used - Bastock.
Booked: Clunan 90+3.
Referee: Alan Dale (Suffolk).