TORQUAY United returned to home action for the second time in a week as we played host to Southport.
Because of a colour clash with both of our opponents’ kits, United were resplendent in all white as Nathan Blissett made his eagerly-anticipated return from injury to join Shaun Harrad in attack.
It was a purposeful start from United and a neat move ended with Shaun Harrad finding Toby Ajala, who was back in the starting line-up, denied by a timely challenge from O’Brien.
There was a frantic start to the game with neither side able to get control of the ball. Wright fired well wide with the visitors’ first sight of goal.
A free-kick conceded by Danny Racchi following a foul on Allan gave the visitors a free-kick in a dangerous position as Gary Jones’ effort deflected off the defensive wall and wide.
From the resulting corner, O’Brien found space in front of goal but planted his header just over.
The visitors were starting to pose a few questions as Almond sees his strike blocked bravely by Courtney Richards.
Having taken a knock on the head, skipper Angus MacDonald required treatment but he was able to continue.
After a header from Aman Verma was cleared by the visitors’ back-line, an attack at the other end moments later ended with Phenix’s effort easily saved by Brendan Moore.
As the half came to a close, United started to enjoy more possession and almost took the lead on 43 minutes when Richards did well out wide and his low pull-back found Blissett whose effort was scrambled clear in front of goal and as the ball fell back out to Richards, he fired wide.
It was goalless at the break during an opening period that saw chances few and far between at either end.
There was a half-time change as Ifeanyi Allen replaced Aman Verma.
A neat turn by Durrell Berry saw him deliver an inviting ball in search of Blissett but the visitors were able to clear.
Shortly afterwards an error by Viscosi almost let United in, but Thompson was on hand to spare his ‘keepers’ blushes.
There was a second change for United as Andre Wright replaced Harrad.
A couple of saves from Brendan Moore kept the visitors at bay as firstly he saved Almond’s deflected free-kick and then gathers bravely from Westcarr’s through-ball in the next attack moments later.
A powerful strike from Gary Jones smashes MacDonald full in the face but the skipper was able to return to the action following treatment.
MacDonald’s next involvement in the action saw him booked for a foul on Hewitt and from the resulting free-kick, Thompson put his header from a decent position inches wide of the target.
The opening goal arrived with ten minutes to go when Ajala did well to feed Butler out wide and his cross found Blissett who guided the ball home from close range to make it 1-0.
In the wake of the goal, Racchi was replaced by Josh Rees as United made our final change.
With Ajala coming alive, he showed great skill to fashion a chance for himself but he fired well over.
There was a smart stop at the other end by Moore to deny substitute Bishop as the clock ticked down.
Then the intelligent Westcarr dragged a low strike inches wide of the mark as United breathed a huge sigh of relief with just two minutes to go.
In stoppage time an effort from Phenix from a tight angle sailed well over the crossbar.
Right at the death, a counter-attack from Ifeanyi Allen saw him use his pace to get away but his final pass was poor, but it mattered not as the full-time whistle signalled three precious points to extend our unbeaten run to eight games and take us out of the bottom four for the first time since September.
It was also our fourth clean sheet in a row as we put in another hard-working and committed display.
Okay, it wasn’t pretty but what a big win for United...