TORQUAY United stepped out on Easter Monday for the visit of play-off chasing Eastleigh.
With sunshine and showers, it was typical Bank Holiday weather as United were without talented defenders, Durrell Berry and Nathan Smith, due to injury, whilst Ben Gerring and Sam Chaney were handed starting places.
The game started with United on the front-foot and an early raid ended with Josh Rees’ cross just evading Nathan Blissett and Chaney, who was making his first League start for the club.
It was the visitors who took the lead with their first attack in the fifth minute when a free-kick from Cook was not properly cleared and the ball found its way through a crowd of players and into the net.
With their tails up, an inviting low ball across the face of goal from Constable was scrambled clear.
As United looked to impose ourselves on the game, some good work from Chaney saw him find Blissett out wide and his high cross picked out Dan Butler but he was off target.
The next move saw Chaney involved once again as he fed Andre Wright whose neat touch in search of the on-rushing Josh Rees was scrambled clear.
Some alert defending by Aman Verma sees him clear ahead of Constable as our visitors continued to look a threat in attack.
It was end-to-end stuff as Turley did well to deny Wright as he looked to power through. Then a corner for the visitors was delivered invitingly into a crowded six-yard box and as United cleared, Wright was able to break away but Eastleigh were able to get men back to clear.
Good link-up play between Wright and Butler saw the latter put in an inviting ball that just evaded the out-stretched leg of Blissett as the rain started to lash down.
An ambitious effort from Payne lands just over from distance with 34 minutes on the clock.
With half-time approaching, the visitors breathed a sigh of relief when Wright did well out wide on the right and he fizzed the ball across the face of goal where Blissett was inches away from making the all-important contact.
In stoppage time a strike from Chaney was deflected wide for a corner following good work from Wright in the build-up. As the flag-kick came in, it caused all sorts of problems for the visitors who had Flitney to thank as he denied Wright and then Angus MacDonald with his feet.
It meant that we went in at the break trailing by one goal to nil.
The second period started with Chaney having a sight of goal and seeing his effort well saved by the ‘keeper although the strike had the sting taken out of it by a deflection.
It was United enjoying the majority of early possession. Courtney Richards tried his luck from distance but was off target.
A great cross from Dan Butler picked out Nathan Blissett at the back post and he was just inches away from equalising.
Just before the hour-mark Luke Young entered the action for his first home appearance of the season as he replaced Rees. There was a warm reception for last year’s Player of the Season.
A second change saw Ifeanyi Allen take the place of Chaney, who also got a good round of applause for his display.
There was a yellow card for Ben Gerring for a foul on Payne as a niggle started to creep into the game.
A purposeful break from the visitors ended with the ball spinning off MacDonald as Gerring did well to clear in front of goal.
There was a booking for Coulson for simulation as he went down inside the area with just under quarter-of-an-hour to go.
On 80 minutes, a last throw of the dice for United saw Toby Ajala unleashed to replace Richards.
A United corner caused more problems and as the ball fell out to MacDonald, his long-range drive was pushed away superbly by Flitney as United continued to ask the majority of the questions.
With five minutes to go, a chance presented itself to Constable but he failed to capitalise as he fired over.
After a chance for Green went begging for the visitors, United went down the other end in stoppage time and Ajala teed up Racchi whose dipping effort landed just over.
There was a let-off right at the death when Tubbs broke the offside trap and went through but failed to capitalise and kill the game off.
It meant that United still had a couple of minutes to try and salvage something from the game.
A last-gasp corner was delivered into a crowded six-yard box but it was Turley who made the clearance and that was the last chance as it ended in a 1-0 defeat.