Woking 1 Torquay United 0
- Credit: James Fearn/PPAUK
A battling display by Torquay United went unrewarded as they bowed out of the FA Trophy after having a last-gasp 'equaliser' by Connor Lemonheigh-Evans controversially disallowed against National League rivals Woking at Kingfield.
Lemonheigh-Evans' stoppage-time header did not touch any team-mates, but it was chalked off because of an offside flag apparently given against Billy Waters who followed the ball into the net.
All the Gulls' protests were waved away by referee Matthew Russell.
Gary Johnson's men, with eleventh-hour loan signing Marcin Brzozowski from Queen's Park Rangers in goal, had missed a penalty through skipper Asa Hall in the first half, before Jamar Loza scored the first goal that Torquay had conceded in the competition in the 38th minute.
Woking may have just deserved their half-time lead, but United's injury, cup-tied and suspension-hit team piled on the pressure through the second half and should at least have taken the tie to penalties.
As well as introducing Brzozowski for the banned Shaun MacDonald, Johnson recalled on-loan midfielder Matt Sheaf - Joe Lewis was out with a concussion 'protocol' forcing another reshuffle in an already-depleted defence.
The makeshift back-four featured midfielders Adam Randell and Jake Andrews at full-back, with Ben Wynter and Sam Sherring at centre-back.
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United were lucky not to fall behind in the first couple of minutes, Lemonheigh-Evans almost miraculously hooking the ball off his own line after his team-mates struggled to deal with a corner.
But in the 13th minute the Gulls made and missed a great chance to take the lead.
Referee Russell, after consulting his linesman, decided that a foul by Moussa Diarra on Lemonheigh-Evans was just inside the right edge of the area and pointed to the spot. It looked the right decision.
But Hall, poised to convert his fourth penalty in the space of three games, hit his shot to the right, Craig Ross 'guessed' correctly and the ball was at a good height for him to beat it away.
Moments later Hall was booked, as if to rub salt into the wound.
It was breathless end-to-end stuff, without anyone really putting their foot on the ball.
In the 21st minute Brzozowski dived low to his left to push a Loza curler round his left-hand post, and three minutes later Sheaf did all the hard work, including a clever touch to beat Ben Gerring, only to be denied by Ross' legs as he tried to finish with the outside of his right foot from six yards.
But the longer the first half went on, the more Woking took control with winger Loza, given a free rein up front for the Cards, the obvious danger.
In the 38th minute he beat Wynter on the turn outside the area, outpaced Randell in a diagonal run and then tucked a left-foot shot low past Brzozowski's left hand from 12 yards…1-0.
Loza nearly made it 2-0 five minutes later, as United failed to cut out a cross from the right, but Matt Buse got back to deflect the effort for a corner.
If Woking expected to pull away in the second half, they were badly mistaken.
From the moment that Andrews hit the right-hand post with a 25-yard free-kick in the 48th minute, it was almost all United.
Waters, working tirelessly up front, failed to make the most of two good chances, Whitfield, Lemonheigh-Evans, Waters again and Randell all went close.
Ex-Gull Gerring did head against the left-hand post from a set-piece and Brzozowski pulled out one brilliant save - the only one he had to make in the second half - from Max Kretzschmar's breakaway 30-yarder in the 90th minute.
But United, with Rob Street on for Buse, kept believing that they could equalise, and in stoppage-time they nearly did it.
Lemonheigh-Evans - he definitely wasn't offside - got his glancing head to Andrews' inswinging free-kick, the ball flashed across the goalmouth and into the net, but the linesman raised his flag as Waters dived in to make sure the ball crossed the line.
United's players and officials protested before and after the final whistle, but it was all in vain - Mr. Russell, who gave 32 fouls and booked five players in a match with hardly a single bad foul - was not for turning.
Woking (3-5-2): Ross; Cook, Gerring, Diarra; Lofthouse, Kretzschmar, Cooper (Dempsey 71), Ferdinand, Loza; J. Smith (Wareham 82, , Napa (Block 86); subs not used - Jarvis, Collier, Casey, M. Smith.
Booked: Cooper 67, Dempsey 90+3.
Torquay United (4-4-1-1): Brzozowski; Randell, Wynter, Sherring, Andrews; Buse (Street 67), Sheaf, Hall, Whitfield; Lemonheigh-Evans; Waters; subs not used - Umerah, Collings, Evans, Price.
Booked: Hall 17, Sheaf 41, Lemonheigh-Evans 75.
Referee: Matthew Russell (Hants).