Torquay United 2-2 Notts County
- Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
Ten-man Torquay United's never-say-die spirit saw them fight back from 2-0 down to snatch a point in the EIGHTH minute of stoppage-time against Play-Off chasing Notts County on a dramatic afternoon at Plainmoor.
It was defender Ben Wynter who hooked the ball over the line from a long throw for another 'Gary-Time' goal which saw the Gulls go top of the National League ahead of the teatime kick-off between Eastleigh and title rivals Sutton United.
United never fired on all cylinders as Notts deservedly took what looked like a match-winning lead through goals by Dion Kelly-Evans in the 38th minute and former Gulls’ centre-back Mark Ellis four minutes into the second half.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans pulled a goal back for United in the 75th minute, before Ellis was involved in two incidents with Gulls sub Josh Umerah which the striker controversially sent off.
In neither case did referee Lewis Smith give a free-kick as Umerah challenged Ellis in the air.
In fact, Mr Smith waved play on the first time and actually gave a free-kick Torquay's way in the second incident.
But he appeared to change his mind for the first and then elected to talk to linesman Alex James before sending Umerah off in the 88th minute.
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It looked all up for the Gulls, as Ellis received prolonged treatment which led to eight minutes of stoppage-time.
But right at the death, Moxey hurled a long throw into the Babbacombe End goalmouth, Hall got the flick-on and right-back Wynter, gambling in the goalmouth, was there to finish with a hip-high volley which just about rolled over the line…2-2!
With no injured players back, Johnson kept the same starting XI that had won at Woking in midweek.
But he did introduce new loan signing Lucas Tomlinson from Bristol Rovers as an option on the left wing.
Notts manager Ian Burchnall replaced goalkeeper Sam Slocombe with veteran short-contract signing Luke Steele, 36, and he also recalled fit-again Michael Doyle in midfield.
Lucas Covolan was alert and confined on and off his line, and he needed to be as Notts made it clear from the start that they were after three points rather than one.
It was fast and furious, without a lot of quality, and honours were even until United created a real chance in the 18th minute.
Adam Randell hit an inswinging cross from the right with his left foot, it found Boden in space at the far post, but he headed tamely wide when he should have forced a save from Steele.
Notts should have taken the lead in the 26th minute.
From Kelly-Evans' cross from County's right, Jimmy Knowles hit the bar with a stooping header, Kyle Wootton was on to the rebound, but Covolan pulled out a terrific reaction save from point-blank range.
United's defence has been so tight of late, but it was a mistake there which led to the Magpies' breakthrough.
Lewis tried to usher the ball over his bye-line, was 'robbed' by Knowles and, although United, blocked one shot, Kelly-Evans seized on the rebound and drilled a 15-yard left-foot effort inside the left-hand post…0-1.
The visitors nearly stretched their lead on the stroke of half-time - Jake Reeves drove in a shot which Covolan did well to tip over the angle of post and bar.
Ellis had scored so many goals during his eventful time as a Gull, it felt almost inevitable that he would play an important part on this day.
In the 49th minute, he came up with an opportunist finish with his left foot after a first effort had been blocked from a left-wing corner by Reeves…0-2.
Johnson sent on all his subs - Tomlinson for Buse, Umerah for Boden and Waters for Andrews - as United continued to struggle to create clear chances.
But in the 75th minute, Waters crossed deep from the left and, from a queue of players trying to finish, Lemonheigh-Evans buried a first-time angled volley beyond the far-post…1-2.
Sam Sherring came up with a vital saving tackle to stop Notts sub Lewis Knight going clear before the two Umerah booking incidents prompted an angry reaction on the pitch and a furious one on the touchline, where Johnson was apoplectic.
But it's never over til it's over, the Gulls never give up and deep into that long stoppage-time Wynter came up with a goal whose importance cannot be exaggerated.
Torquay United (4-4-1-1): Covolan; Wynter, Sherring, Lewis, Moxey; Randell, Buse (Tomlinson 55), Hall, Andrews (Waters 67); Lemonheigh-Evans; Boden (Umerah 67); subs not used - MacDonald, Warren.
Booked: Umerah 79. Sent Off: Umerah 88.
Notts County (3-5-2): Steele; Lacey (Miller 46), Rawlinson, Ellis; Kelly-Evans, Reeves, Doyle, O'Brien (Griffiths 67), Chicksen; Knowles (Knight 58), Wootton; subs not used - Boldewijn, Pilling.
Referee: Lewis Smith (Lancs).