TORQUAY UNITED 1 BOREHAM WOOD 1
After scoring 14 goals in their previous three matches, National League leaders Torquay United stuttered in attack and had to settle for a point from an often disjointed contest against Boreham Wood at wet and windy Plainmoor.
On-loan defender Sam Sherring’s 16th minute header raised hopes of a seventh win in eight league games, but Wood equalised with a deflected Sorba Thomas effort on the stroke of half-time.
The weather did no-one any favours on the quality front, and the result was hardly a disaster for Gary Johnson’s Gulls after they had to play the last 20 minutes with ten men.
Plymouth Argyle loanee midfielder Adam Randell was sent off, for a second yellow card.
There was a surprise before kick-off, with both goalkeeper Lucas Covolan and midfielder Armani Little not featuring for United.
Shaun MacDonald took Covolan’s place, and he proved a more than able deputy as Wood gave as good as they got for long periods of the first half.
The visitors started with veteran targetman Matt Rhead and pacy striker Kabby Tshimanga up front, but it was Thomas on their left who posed the biggest threat.
It was against the run of play when the Gulls took the lead.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans’ free-kick into the goalmouth was on the money for Sherring to shake off the marking and score his second goal of the season with a good header... 1-0.
United had the elements behind them, but even though Wood were forced to make an early change - ex-Gulls loanee Shaquile Coulthirst for the injured Tshimanga - it was Luke Garrard’s side who looked more dangerous.
MacDonald is always quick around his area, and he certainly was when he dashed out to smother at the feet of Coulthirst when a through-ball beat his defence in the 27th minute.
He also took no chances on an Adam McConnell shot ten minutes later, down well and pushing the effort behind.
But Torquay then put together a decent spell - Ashmore only just dealt with a Ben Whitfield cross and Danny Wright headed narrowly wide on a Ben Wynter free-kick - before conceding in first-half stoppage-time.
Thomas had been Wood’s danger man, but he had a major slice of luck with the equaliser.
Thomas’ shot from the left took a big deflection off his marker Wynter, giving MacDonald no chance of stopping it... 1-1.
Wright and Rhead went into referee Tom Reeves’ book as conditions eased at the start of the second half.
Rhead and Coulthirst were both inches away from finishing a Smith right-wing cross for Wood in the 58th minute, but United then moved up a gear, as they needed to do.
Randell was not far wide with a shot after Sherring’s effort was blocked on a Lemonheigh-Evans cross, and in the 63rd minute it took a top save by Ashmore to keep out an equally good volley by Wynter.
Sherring also headed over from another set-piece before Randell, who had been booked in the first half, was a shade late with a tackle in the 70th minute and a second yellow card meant a red.
Johnson sent on Gary Warren for Moxey in defence, United still looking to win it with ten men.
But just when it looked as if the game was petering out, both sides nearly snatched victory in stoppage-time.
Wynter nearly forced the ball in at the far-post after Ashmore had failed to deal with a run and shot by Whitfield from the left.
But then MacDonald had to complete an impressive afternoon by him when he denied Rhead with a smart save just before Mr Reeves blew for time.
United’s lead stands at three points over Wealdstone, although third-placed Sutton United - they beat King’s Lynn 5-1 - are four behind with two games in hand.
With Tuesday’s home game against Solihull Moors off because of Covid issues at the West Midlands club, Torquay next head for FC Halifax Town on Saturday.
Torquay United (4-1-4-1): MacDonald; Wynter, Sherring, Cameron, Moxey (Warren 82); Hall; Nemane, Lemonheigh-Evans, Randell, Whitfield; Wright; subs not used - Collings, Andrews, Waters, Umerah.
Sent Off: Randell 70. Booked: Randell 30, Hall 45, Wright 52, Cameron 80.
Boreham Wood (4-4-2): Ashmore; Smith, Champion, Fyfield, Ilesanmi; Mingoia, McConnell, Mafuta, Thomas; Rhead, Tshimanga (Coulthirst 20); subs not used - Huddart, Woodards, Francis-Angol, Stephens.
Booked: Rhead 53, Mafuta 60.
Referee: Tom Reeves (Coventry).