Trophy exit for Torquay United

Dan Martin of Torquay United and Joe Turner of Tonbridge Angels battle for the ball during the Build

Dan Martin of Torquay United and Joe Turner of Tonbridge Angels battle for the ball during the Buildbase FA Trophy third-round match between Tonbridge Angels and Torquay United at The Halcyon Wealth Longmead Stadium, Tonbridge, Kent on Saturday 18th December 2021 | Photo: James Fearn/PPAUK. - Credit: James Fearn/PPAUK

Knocked out of the FA Cup by Havant & Waterlooville, Torquay United suffered another hugely disappointing defeat by National League South opposition when Tonbridge Angels deservedly beat them in the FA Trophy at the Longmead Stadium. 

Far from following up their 2-1 league win over Stockport County at Plainmoor last Saturday, Gary Johnson's Gulls seldom looked the part in Kent, despite scoring a first-half equaliser through centre-forward Danny Wright. 

The Angels, 18th in the NL South, took the lead through Joe Turner after only nine minutes. 

Wright's equaliser should have moved them into top gear, but instead it was Tonbridge who kept up a spirited performance in the second half and won it with an opportunist goal from a corner in the 86th minute. 

After much speculation, Johnson made only two changes from the team which started the 2-1 win over Stockport - in came Mark Halstead in goal and Wright up front. 

Shaun MacDonald - third-choice goalie Marcin Brzozowski had joined Gloucester City on an emergency loan on Friday - dropped to the four-man bench, but Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, Keelan O'Connell and Chiori Johnson did not feature. 

If Johnson, and the Gulls' travelling fans, were hoping for a fast start from their team, they were disappointed. 

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United were thrown out of their stride before they had even got into it and Tonbridge, physically committed and determined to make their mark, deservedly took the lead in the ninth minute. 

Torquay's defensive marking allowed Turner a free header at a free-kick, and he made no mistake…1-0 to the Angels. 

Wright set up Jack Sparkes for a shot not far wide and Armani Little sent a 20-yard free-kick just over, but the first half-an-hour was distinctly uncomfortable for United. 

They might have fallen further behind were it not for one excellent save by Halstead from a Tommy Wood shot and a goalline block by the Gulls' goalie, again from Wood. 

Wright was visibly up for it, and it was he who equalised in the 36th minute, even if the goal came a little out of the blue. 

Little was the pick of United's midfield, and one piece of classy play saw him beat a man, hint at a shot, pick out an inviting pass to Wright instead and the Gulls' centre-forward took a touch before beating the advancing Jonny Henly…1-1. 

It was his second goal in an injury-hit season. 

Moments later, Little sent another free-kick just over the bar from outside the area. 

Just as they had done an hour before, United found themselves on the back foot at the start of the second half, Adam Lovatt firing a good chance over the bar for the hosts. 

Klaidi Lolos had just as good an opening, set up by Sinclair Armstrong, but he shot weakly at Henly when he should have done better. 

Tonbridge had a 'goal' disallowed for a foul on Halstead - he was trying to regain his ground after making a good punch - and, after referee Humphries turned down penalty appeals when Armstrong went down under a challenge, Johnson made a change. 

It was Dan Holman for Wright in attack. 

Armstrong had a chance to give United the lead in the 78th minute - Armstrong stayed onside from a Sparkes pass and hit the target, but Henly saved well. 

But the Gulls, far from dominating, continued to live dangerously in defence and Tonbridge visibly believed they could pull off an upset. 

Sure enough, after another good save by Halstead and a block by Tom Lapslie, the Angels regained the lead from a corner in the 86th minute. 

United failed to deal with the flag-kick and Olutade, who'd only been on for a couple of minutes, poked home…2-1. 

Mr Humphries added on four minutes of stoppage-time, but it was not enough to for Torquay to save themselves, even for a penalty shoot-out.  

Tonbridge Angels (4-4-2): Henly; O'Sullivan (Olutade 82), Miles, Hudson, Braham-Barrett; Jenkins, Beere, Parkinson, Lovatt; Turner, Wood; subs not used - Woodhouse, Embery, Green, Hermitage, Moore, Zamani. 

Booked: None. 

Torquay United (3-4-3): Halstead; Wynter, Lewis, Moxey; Sparkes, Lapslie, Little, Martin; Lolos, Wright (Holman 75), Armstrong; subs not used - Omar, Perritt, MacDonald. 

Booked: None. 

Referee: Andrew Humphries (Northants). 

At Bolitho Park, Southern League Plymouth Parkway reached the Fourth Round of the Trophy, beating NL South Dulwich Hamlet on penalties after a 1-1 draw. 

Torquay United supporters during the Buildbase FA Trophy third-round match between Tonbridge Angels

Torquay United supporters during the Buildbase FA Trophy third-round match between Tonbridge Angels and Torquay United at The Halcyon Wealth Longmead Stadium, Tonbridge, Kent on Saturday 18th December 2021 | Photo: James Fearn/PPAUK. - Credit: James Fearn/PPAUK