Connor spoils 'Hollywood' party with late equaliser for the Gulls
Our Special Correspondent
- Credit: Lexy Ilsley/PPAUK
A HEADED equaliser by man-of-the-match Connor Lemonheigh-Evans six minutes from time earned Torquay United an important and battling point against Wrexham at a packed Racecourse Ground.
The tireless Lemonheigh-Evans, whose industry sustained Gary Johnson's Gulls after they had fallen behind after only four minutes of a second-fiddle first half, added to away draws this season against more big spenders Notts County and Chesterfield.
Nearly 10,000 Wrexham fans welcomed new Hollywood actor owners Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds to their first home game, and it made for a great atmosphere.
The North Walians were rewarded with an early goal, defender Harry Lennon seizing on United's inability to deal with the first of a stream of long throws by Ben Tozer.
Torquay only just made it to half-time at 1-0, after a first-half performance which almost certainly prompted some strong words from Johnson at the interval.
But they were much improved in the second half, more solid and determined in defence and more positive in attack.
And it was a high-quality move in the 84th minute which set up Lemonheigh-Evans' equaliser.
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Johnson kept to the same XI which had started the 2-0 home win over King's Lynn seven days before, but he recalled Ali Omar and fit-again Tom Lapslie to the subs' bench, along with new man Moore.
Wrexham boss Phil Parkinson was without leading scorer Paul Mullin, after the Football Association of Wales corrected a 'wrongful dismissal' red card from Tuesday's 3-2 defeat at Maidenhead from Bryce Hosannah to Mullin.
Parkinson also left out striker Dior Angus and paired Jordan Ponticelli with Liam McAlinden up front, and recalled Rob Lainton in goal.
Ex-Gulls captain Luke Young had recovered from injury to make the bench.
It was a tale of long throws from the start.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans pulled an early shot wide from a half-cleared 'launch' by Dean Moxey, but Wrexham have a real 'specialist' in Ben Tozer and it worked in the fourth minute.
The Gulls could not deal with a Tozer hurl and Lennon punished them with a half-volley shot on the turn past Shaun MacDonald's right hand…1-0.
Johnson was furious at the failure of his defence to counter a threat they had known was coming.
He couldn't have been too happy, either, with United's quality on the ball and, although they worked hard to keep Wrexham at bay and secure a foothold in the game, they conceded possession too often and had little quality on their set-pieces.
Miscontrol by midfielder Armani Little in the 16th nearly led to a second goal - James Jones' shot was deflected into the path of Liam McAlinden and MacDonald did well to push his effort behind.
Joe Lewis did get his head to another Moxey long throw, but the ball flew just over the bar, and United were unable to get anything serious going in attack, where Sinclair Armstrong had few chances to use his pace in behind the home defence.
Jordan Davies sent an edge-of-the-area free-kick over the bar after a foul by Klaidi Lolos, just before referee Ben Speedie turned down home shouts for a penalty in the 33rd minute - rightly so, for Lemonheigh-Evans' last-ditch tackle on Jones was spot-on.
The Welshman curled a shot just wide from a Little-Lolos move - Torquay's best moment of the first half - but Joe Lewis had to come to the rescue with a trademark defensive header to keep the lead to one goal just before half-time.
When Tozer got his throws right, he could reach the six-yard box, but United began to deal with them a little better in the second half - credit to MacDonald for that.
The experience of MacDonald and Moxey served the Gulls well, and in the 56th minute Moxey came up with a key tackle on Hosannah which had the home crowd howling for a penalty, but which Mr Speedie rightly turned down.
The referee also showed a yellow card to home boss Parkinson, who had joined in the protests.
Moxey delivered another perfectly-timed tackle to stop the busy Ponticelli breaking away, as United began to put the home goal under more pressure and worry the increasingly tense crowd.
Johnson made a succession of changes - Lapslie for Perritt with a reshuffle in defence, then new man Moore for Lolos and Alex Addai for Holman in attack.
Those changes maintained United's forward momentum, and in the 84th minute their passing game paid off.
Armstrong, Lapslie and Johnson were all involved before Lemonheigh-Evans headed home Johnson's cross from the right…1-1.
If anyone deserved a goal, it was Lemonheigh-Evans, who had run himself into the ground and could barely put one leg in front of another during six long minutes of stoppage-time.
Wrexham (3-5-2): Lainton; Lennon, Hayden, French; Hosannah (Jarvis 81), Tozer, Davies, J. Jones (Young 87), Reckord; Ponticelli (Angus 75), McAlinden; subs not used - Dibble, Brisley.
Booked: Lennon 48, Lainton 59).
Torquay United (3-4-3): MacDonald; Perritt (Lapslie 58), Lewis, Moxey; Wynter, Little, Johnson, Lemonheigh-Evans; Lolos (Moore 62), Armstrong, Holman (Addai 74); subs not used - Halstead, Omar.
Booked: Perritt 54, Moxey 90+5.
Referee: Ben Speedie (Merseyside).
Attendance: 9,812 (242 Gulls fans).