TORQUAY United completed their season with an enthralling 1-1 draw against Macclesfield that left everyone inside the Launa Windows Stadium full entertained.
Louis Briscoe opened the scoring for United on 24 minutes and the Gulls were the dominant force in the first period, but Macclesfield came back strong after the break and earned a point with a header from Waide Fairhurst.
United boss Chris Hargreaves stuck with the same side that recorded a fine 2-0 win at Halifax last weekend, which meant a bench packed with talent, including leading scorer Ryan Bowman back from injury and captain Luke Young.
Macclesfield manager John Askey entered the game with all the pressure on his shoulders, as only three points and a slip up for either Forest Green or Eastleigh would guarantee the Silkmen a place in the play-offs.
The desperate need for points was reflected in a high-tempo start to the game from Macclesfield, who were zipping the ball around on the greasy surface, forcing Levi Ives into an early intervention to block Chris Holroyd.
United settled into their rhythm with Ben Harding seeing a lot of the ball in midfield and Toby Ajala full of running down the right flank, as the Gulls looked to exploit any defensive holes in the attack-minded visitors.
A real end-to-end affair and the fact Macclesfield needed the win made for a terrific spectacle in the early stages but the first shot in anger came from a visiting boot, as captain Paul Turnbull rifled a half-volley narrowly wide from distance.
The Gulls responded with a superb move through the middle and Harding pulling all the strings before releasing Kadell Daniel down the left, but his whipped cross was intercepted by goalkeeper Rhys Taylor.
Daniel Rowe then sneaked in behind the Yellow defence but scooped his shot over with Aaron Dawson doing a good job as the covering full-back, Moments later, Rowe did hit the target but was denied by an excellent low save from Daniel Lavercombe.
From the next attack, United were in front and it was a composed finish from Briscoe, steering a sweet low shot into the bottom corner after Ashley Yeoman had initially been blocked by some desperate Macclesfield defending.
It was one of those situations on the edge of the area where the loose ball was asking to smashed home but Briscoe opted for a side-foot strike that gave Taylor no chance as it fizzed off the slippery turf.
A glorious opportunity to double the lead arrived five minutes later, as Daniel robbed Andy Halls to bear down on goal but credit to Taylor for racing off his line to make an excellent save with his sprawling body.
Daniel was soon testing Taylor again and this time, it was a superb 35-yard free-kick that rocketing toward the top corner before the visiting custodian dived full-length to prevent what would have been a stunning goal from the man on loan from Charlton.
The half ended with Macclesfield regaining their composure and defender Thierry Audel was only a whisker off target with a towering header from Scott Barrow’s curling delivery. Ajala then broke up the other end but was thwarted by a superb cover-tackle from Alex Grant.
The visitors opened the second period full of determination and purpose, but the Gulls repelled the mini-siege to break down the right through Yeoman, only for Grant to rescue his team with another tremendous challenge.
A surging run from Ajala was next to threaten the Silkmen and when the ball bobbled wide for Daniel to have a scuttling shot from distance, Taylor was required to position himself correctly in making the save.
Macclesfield responding by hurling crosses into the box and Lavercombe stood up to the bombardment with impressive composure, especially with a vociferous away support behind his goal.
Matthew Barnes-Homer replaced Rowe in the first change of the afternoon and he was soon challenging for a long throw from Grant, but Audel slashed the loose ball well wide when it fell to him eight yards from goal.
The next long throw completed change the mood of the game, as Turnbull flicked on toward the back post and Fairhurst had pulled off his man to nod the ball past a stranded Lavercombe for a potentially massive equaliser.
Macclesfield supporters were now busily checking their phones to see the scores at Forest Green and Eastleigh, both of whom were drawing, which meant another goal for the Silkmen would see them leapfrog Forest Green and into the play-off places.
United shuffled their pack with the introduction of Bowman for Yeoman and it was incredibly frenetic stuff, all adding to a thoroughly enjoyable final day, as Fairhurst again threatened with a low shot dragged wide.
A mesmerising run from Briscoe completed bamboozled the visiting defence and his reverse pass for Bowman looked ideal for the leading scorer, but he just lost his balance as the trigger was about to be pulled.
It was Briscoe’s final contribution, with John Campbell his replacement for the final 10 minutes. United also introduced Courtney Richards for James McQuilklin in the closing stages.
The pressure on United’s goal was mounting and a swipe from Krystian Pearce on Chris Holroyd earned the Silkmen a free-kick on the edge of the area. Turnbull took responsibility but drifted a weak effort over the bar.
Fairhurst had one more chance that he sliced well wide and Macclesfield’s valiant effort was over. For the Gulls, it was a totally deserved point and Campbell very nearly made it three with a thunderous shot that crashed into the post in the last seconds of the game.
The season is over and thank-you for the wonderful support. Enjoy the summer.
United (4-4-2): 31 Daniel Lavercombe; 29 Aaron Dawson, 5 Krystian Pearce, 4 Aaron Downes (capt), 25 Levi Ives; 10 Toby Ajala, 22 James McQuilkin (16 Courtney Richards 82), 6 Ben Harding, 20 Kadell Daniel; 7 Louis Briscoe (32 John Campbell 79), 14 Ashley Yeoman (9 Ryan Bowman 74). Substitutes (not used): 8 Luke Young, 26 Ollivier Gueguen.
Macclesfield (4-4-2): 1 Rhys Taylor; 2 Andy Halls, 4 Thierry Audel, 28 Alex Grant, 3 Scott Barrow; 9 Chris Holroyd, 6 Paul Turnbull (capt), 23 Danny Whitaker, 34 Daniel Rowe (29 Matthew Barnes-Homer 61); 10 Waide Fairhurst, 11 Adriano Moke. Substitutes (not used): 8 Paul Lewis, 12 Dan Cowan, 15 Will Haining, 20 Ritchie Branagan.
Referee: Robert Whitton
Attendance: 2,260 (220 away).