IMPOSSIBLE to ever find a definitive answer but for those who witnessed Luke Young’s late winner against Wrexham, none would dispute they had seen one of the best ever goals scored at Torquay United.
If there have been any better in well over 100 years of football at our historic stadium, many of us were not fortunate enough to be around.
United had to claw back from a calamitous opener for Wrexham in the first-half before the outstanding Louis Briscoe equalised just after the hour and then Young grabbed all three points with a truly unbelievable strike.
United manager Chris Hargreaves made two enforced changes from the side beaten 2-1 at Forest Green on Tuesday. The suspended duo Courtney Richards and Duane Ofori-Acheampong made way for Josh Wakefield in midfield and Toby Ajala was selected as strike-partner for Ryan Bowman.
Wrexham boss Kevin Wilkin stuck with the same team that defeated Kidderminster in midweek, a win that lifted the Dragons above United to third in the Vanarama Conference table.
A bright start from Wrexham saw the visitors win a corner but the Gulls were able to clear down the right and a low cross to the near-post from Ajala had Bowman stretching to get a toe on the ball.
Moments later, a heavy deflection presented Ajala with an even better chance in the left channel and he should have done better than a side-foot shot steered wide of Dan Bachmann’s far post.
The Gulls were almost made to pay on 10 minutes after a fizzing free-kick from Elliott Durrell found its way to big centre-back Blaine Hudson, who barely had time to react as the ball ricocheted off his shin and flew narrowly over the bar.
The decent tempo continued with United winning a free-kick at the other end and Young delivery from the left was picked up by Briscoe on the opposite flank, who fired in a low cross that Bachmann initially fumbled before gratefully snaffling at the second attempt.
TQ1 breathed a massive relief on 21 minutes, when a curling corner picked out Manny Smith eight yards from goal and his towering header thundered back off the post with goalkeeper Martin Rice rooted to his line.
Wrexham were a side playing with understandable confidence and a decent whipped effort from distance by Connor Jennings briefly had Rice scampering across goal before the ball flashed wide.
A horror moment for Rice arrived on 29 minutes when a goal-kick from his hands smashed into the back of Moult, who happily picked up the loose ball and slotted into an empty net for the easiest possible opener.
United set about making swift amends for their custodian and quick feet from Wakefield created room for a dinked cross that Bachmann did well to palm over his bar under pressure from the Yellow artillery.
Fair play to Wrexham, however, as they slowed down proceedings in the blustery conditions but the advantage gifted to them came under serious threat in the final seconds of the half.
Briscoe was the instigator, picking up a Yellow clearance to surge down the right and then feed a tidy ball inside for Bowman, who looked to place his shot in the bottom corner but Bachmann did superbly well to get down quickly for the save.
The Gulls came out for the second-half like a side determined to right the wrongs of a difficult week that had brought two defeats on the road and Bowman was only a whisker from reaching a header after neat work down the left from Courtney Cameron.
The impressive Wakefield, enjoying a competent game in the engine room, then had two shots blocked before the ball fell to Ajala, who could only stab his effort wide after turning quickly in the box.
United were well on top and some dancing feet from Briscoe prompted a rapid break forward that culminated in a low cross from Cameron, but when the ball fell to Bowman in the box, Bachmann was equal to the left-foot shot.
It had turned into a Yellow siege and the equaliser was fully warranted when it arrived on 62 minutes. A series of balls into the box eventually found Ajala in space, who laid the ball back for Briscoe to stylishly steer a lot show inside the near-post.
It was a terrific finish from a player rediscovering his form after missing much of September through injury and the Gulls were now piling forward with the backing of a Yellow Army galvanised by a vastly improved second-half.
Briscoe was enjoying a sensational spell and yet another clever turn on the edge of the box created room for a stinging shot that Bachmann could not hold, and he only just grabbed the rebound before the lurking Bowman arrived on the scene.
The next Yellow attempt was a beautifully curled free-kick from Young that somehow stayed out after crashing into the inside of the near-post. It was a fantastic effort and from their viewing angle, Bristow’s Bench felt it was going to be a certain goal.
The first change of a breathless afternoon arrived on 82 minutes, with Durrell replaced by Andy Bishop but the new man could only stand and watch one of the greatest goal ever seen inside this stadium.
Wrexham understandably suspected little danger when a clearance fell to Young 30 yards from goal but United’s captain took a touch before lashing an extraordinary volley into the top corner, with the aesthetically pleasing bonus of the ball flashing in off the upright.
It is no exaggeration to say the finest players in world football would have been mightily proud, eulogising this as one of the best strikes in their illustrious careers. Instead, the moment belonged to Torquay United’s talismanic skipper.
Amid the cacophony of noise, all that could be seen from more than 2,000 astonished mouths was the clear phrase ‘what a goal’.
And what a win.
United (4-4-2): 1 Martin Rice; 2 Dale Tonge, 5 Krystian Pearce, 21 Angus MacDonald, 3 Tom Cruise; 7 Louis Briscoe (14 Ashley Yeoman 90), 8 Luke Young (capt), 22 Josh Wakefield, 11 Courtney Cameron; 9 Ryan Bowman, 10 Toby Ajala. Substitutes (not used): 6 Ben Harding, 12 Jordan Chapell, 20 Jake Hutchings, 23 Jordan Seabright.
Booked: Cameron 85, MacDonald 90
Wrexham (4-4-2): 13 Dan Bachmann; 2 Mark Carrington, 4 Manny Smith, 5 Blaine Hudson, 3 Neil Ashton; 16 Wes York, 6 Joe Clarke, 12 Dean Keates (capt), 7 Elliott Durrell (10 Andy Bishop 82); 9 Louis Moult (27 Dan Holman 85), 24 Connor Jennings. Substitutes (not used): 11 Theo Bailey-Jones, 18 Ross White, 26 Jonny Hunt.
Booked: Ashton 77
Referee: Colin Lymer
Attendance: 2,350 (209 away).