IT WAS a return to League business with the visit of Gateshead as Toby Ajala started on his second coming, whilst recent arrivals, Shaun Harrad and Nathan Blissett, took their places on the bench.
United forced a corner within the opening seconds as we looked to make a positive start.
With five minutes on the clock, a neat move by Torquay ended with Andre Wright trying his luck but firing over the crossbar.
The next attack saw a teasing cross from Aman Verma find the head of Wright but he couldn’t direct the ball on target.
United were certainly seeing plenty of the ball in the opening exchanges and posing a number of questions of the opposition back-line.
A deft flick-on by Wright almost played in Tyrone Marsh but Cranston was alert to the danger to clear.
Against the run of play, Gateshead took the lead in the 29th minute when McLaughlin’s effort was headed off the line by Durrell Berry and the resulting corner found Ryan Bowman who swept the ball home against his former club.
A positive run by Ajala saw the visitors manage to scramble the ball clear before he could pull the trigger.
Then a strike from Marsh was deflected just over as we responded well to going a goal behind.
There was more pressure on the Gateshead defence in the closing stages of the opening period. A free-kick in a dangerous position from Dan Butler almost found the head of Angus MacDonald but Clark was able to clear.
The resulting corner was almost put into his own net by a Gateshead defender but the visitors survived.
Moments later, Berry did really well out wide to create a chance for Marsh and his effort was superbly kept out by Russell in the Gateshead goal.
The second half started with Johnson missing a glorious chance in front of goal for the visitors but he made no mistake shortly afterwards when a similar move ended with him firing home from Hamilton’s cut-back to double the advantage.
In the wake of the goal, new signings, Nathan Blissett and Shaun Harrad were unleashed in place of Andre Wright and Tyrone Marsh respectively.
On the hour-mark, Harrad saw a shooting opportunity open up for him but Clark was brave to block his strike.
With 20 minutes to go Kevin Nicholson was replaced by Shepherd Murombedzi.
A great turn from Harrad saw him make room for a strike only for Curtis to get in a timely challenge.
As United reached double figures for corners won, a flag-kick was headed up by Harrad inside the area but Russell was dominant to claim the ball and thwart any danger.
There was another sharp turn and positive run by the lively Ajala which ended with his strike well saved.
As the rain started to fall heavily, the game petered out and with it went our chances of getting any points reward as Gateshead played out the closing stages to win 2-0 despite Torquay having the majority of possession throughout the course of the 90 minutes.