Halifax 1 Torquay United 2
MIDFIELDER Connor Lemonheigh-Evans hit a late winner as Torquay United brushed a penalty miss aside to clinch their seventh win in nine games at Halifax Town and stay clear at the top of the National League.
Gary Johnson’s Gulls deservedly led at halftime through skipper Asa Hall’s early shot – his fourth goal of the season.
But, even though they looked a cut above the Shaymen, United handed them an equaliser for Jamie Allen in the 53rd minute – and then missed a penalty.
Leading scorer Danny Wright drove a spot-kick over after Aaron Nemane had been fouled. But it was Torquay who went for victory bigtime in the closing stages, and Lemonheigh-Evans’ winner was the reward.
Johnson kept Shaun MacDonald in goal, even though Lucas Covolan was fit, but he was without left- back Dean Moxey and suspended midfielder Adam Randell.
So, with a formation shuffle, in came Gary Warren in defence and Billy Waters in attack, both for their first starts of the season. Luke Summerfield had an early shot across the face of goal for the hosts, with MacDonald also making one smart save and a confident catch.
But United were soon dominating possession and territory, and in the 17th minute they made it count. Kyle Cameron broke up a home attack, fed Ben Whitfield down the left, he crossed low and Hall drove the ball in from 12 yards.
United were clearly the better side, and it often looked as if they were trying to pass the ball into the net. Hall fired just wide from 20 yards before half time, but the feeling was that United had not made their superiority count at the interval.
Sure enough, in the 53rd minute a rare slip in defence handed Halifax an equaliser. It was Warren whose slip let Allen away to beat MacDonald one-on-one... 1-1.
It was an invitation back into the match, but to United’s credit they reacted well then – Lemonheigh-Evans forced Sam Johnson into a good save with a header on Aaron Nemane’s Cross – and with an even bigger ‘mistake’ in the 72nd minute.
After Cameron, doing a good impression of Liam Davis or Moxey at left-back, had a header blocked, Nemane drove at the Town defence.
He appeared to have pushed the ball too far, but he was quick enough to draw a tackle from Tom Bradbury right on the edge of the area.
Halifax protested about the decision, but referee Simon Mather pointed to the spot.
Wright then drove the penalty over the bar!
Halifax were lifted by the miss and MacDonald had to make a top save, low to his right, to deny Jake Hyde in the 81st minute.
But two minutes later United’s determination not to settle for a point paid off.
Wynter hit a diagonal cross, Halifax could not clear under pressure and Lemonheigh-Evans seized on the ‘bits’, worked some room and rammed home a low shot from 10 yards... 2-1.
It was all hands to the pumps in the last few minutes – Whitfield got back to save one perilous situation – but the Gulls saw it out for another big win.
Halifax Town (3-5-2): Johnson; Bradbury, Byrne, Clark; Maher (Nepomuceno 84), Woods, Summerfield, Green (Earing 65), Senior; Allen, Hyde; subs not used – Davison-Hale, Tear, Davis.
Booked: Maher 26, Byrne 39.
Torquay United (4-4-2): MacDonald; Wynter, Warren, Sherring, Cameron; Nemane, Hall, Lemonheigh-Evans, Whitfield; Wright (Andrews 87), Waters (Umerah 75); subs not used – Covolan,Price, Kerr.
Booked: Cameron 78.
Referee: Simon Mather.