THE Gulls went down to their first defeat of the season in a disappointing performance against a talented Rotherham side.
United found it very difficult to live with the movement and ability of their rivals, in a game that could have resulted in the scoreline flattering The Millers by even more. In the end, a single strike from Alex Revell proved the difference.
Although United boss Martin Ling was present in the technical area and Rotherham manager Steve Evans was absent, serving the first of his six-match stadium ban after an FA charge, the Millers didn't feel any adverse effects, as they dominated proceedings.
Ling was afforded the luxury of naming the same side that drew with Plymouth last weekend and it was actually United that created the first opportunity with Lee Mansell setting Danny Stevens away only for the winger to be ruled offside.
Then Rotherham took possession and kept it for the majority of the first half. The one caveat to that being Rene Howe looking dangerous when taking on Millers’ defender Ian Sharps.
Stevens and Billy Bodin found it increasingly difficult to influence the game, with Rotherham stroking the ball around nicely, taking full advantage of the lush playing surface at The New York Stadium.
The rare occasions when United could attack with purpose failed to result in any clear chances in the first half. Howe and Bodin combined in fleeting possession, but the first clear chance could have put United behind. Kayode Odejayi turned Brian Saah but his shot hit the post and Kevin Nicholson was in position to clear.
With Rotherham keeping the ball well, it was up to the Gulls to track runners, and keep their concentration to see them into the half-time break.
It was unfortunate then, that a mix up between Nicholson and Michael Poke gifted Rotherham the only goal. Nicholson's header back to his team-mate was a little loose and Revell was there to take advantage and put the The Millers in front in the thrity-fourth minute.
United needed to find and support Rene Howe, but unfortunately could not get the ball to feet in an increasingly frustrating first half.
The second half continued in the same vein. Early on, confusion between Aaron Downes and Poke resulted in a good opportunity for Odejayi, but luckily for United, he could not take advantage.
After being booked in the first half, Downes was then fortunate not to be sent off. After a challenge on Odejayi, the defender looked as though he was expecting a second yellow card to be shown his way.
It could be argued that Rotherham should have wrapped the game up in the first ten minutes of the second half. Chances for Sharps and Odejayi could have made it a lot easier for the home team. Rotherham midfielders Michael O'Connor and ex-Gull Ben Pringle were picking their passes and United were getting stretched.
Niall Thompson replaced Craig, the midfielder giving another impressive performance despite Rotherham's dominance. United, however, were being pushed back and more chances were falling Rotherham's way.
Thompson, given his chance, then made a few of his typical runs on the wing but over-cooked a few crosses when well-placed to find a Torquay shirt.
Rotherham chances were coming and going and The Millers were wasteful in front of goal. Then, however, United could have have stolen a point. After another direct run, Thompson pulled the ball back to Bodin. However, the youngster lacked composure and blasted the ball over the bar.
If he had scored, it would have been unfair on Rotherham but something that plenty of Torquay fans have experienced at Plainmoor over the years. Martin Ling will want an immediate response to this performance, on Tuesday, away against Wimbledon.
United (4-3-3): 1 Michael Poke; 2 Joe Oastler, 5 Brian Saah, 4 Aaron Downes, 3 Kevin Nicholson; 7 Lee Mansell (capt), 20 Nathan Craig (29 Niall Thompson 59), 11 Ian Morris; 15 Billy Bodin, 9 Rene Howe, 19 Danny Stevens (8 Ryan Jarvis 70). Substitutes (not used): 12 Daniel Leadbitter, 13 Martin Rice (GK), 18 Craig Easton, 21 Thomas Cruise, 30 Kirtys MacKenzie.
Booked: Downes 17
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Report from Patrick Tinkler