(Reid 71′ pen)
(Hill 9′, Bray 84′)
United slipped to a first league defeat at home since September, as a rugged Weston-super-Mare soaked up a second half onslaught to secure the points.
A Gethyn Hill strike had the Gulls chasing the game early on, however a dominant second half display was eventually rewarded with a Jamie Reid penalty. Disaster struck for Torquay late on though, with Weston substitute Alex Bray running the length of the field to score the winner.
With Jamie Sendles-White injured during Tuesday’s 2-1 win at East Thurrock, United were pleased to welcome back Kyle Cameron in what proved to be a straight swap at centre-back.
United started well enough, with Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala showing his trademark trickery down the right-hand side, but the visitors had already fired a couple of warning shots, before the breakthrough came in the ninth minute.
With the swirling wind dictating play, a long ball forward put Jean-Yves Koue Niate under pressure midway inside the Torquay half. His interception only served as bait to the onrushing Hill, and after shaking of the attention of Cameron inside the box, he slipped the ball past Shaun MacDonald and into the corner of the net.
Gary Johnson’s men responded by assuming the territorial dominance, but failed to test Luke Purnell in the Weston goal.
United however, did feel aggrieved not to have been awarded a penalty on the half-hour. A fine move inside the 18-yard box saw Kalala thread Connor Lemonheigh-Evans into a dangerous position with just the keeper to beat. Just as the Welshman had his foot on the trigger, a combination of Weston defenders saw him hit the turf, but the referee waived the claims away.
Just as in midweek, the Gulls left the field with plenty of work to do at the interval.
The second half though, saw United camped inside the visitors’ half, and they could have equalised four times within ten minutes.
First Reid volleyed narrowly wide, then Lemonheigh-Evans and Kalala had firm goalbound shots blocked. Torquay got even closer moments later, when captain Asa Hall saw his shot charged down, before Reid followed up and saw his looping shot bounce of the crossbar.
Amazingly though, it wasn’t until the 61st minute that Purnell was called action. Saikou Janneh held the ball up well and played Reid into the box. United’s top scorer took aim and fired in a low drive, but Weston’s keeper bravely smothered the shot and the ball was hacked away.
Next Janneh fired wide, then Hall had another shot blocked. The harder they tried, the more it seemed it just wouldn’t be their day. Then, on 71 minutes, United were handed a lifeline.
Janneh, showing some superb trickery, took on and beat Tom Harrison inside the box. With the Torquay man about to shoot, Harrison bundled him over and this time the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Reid was calmness personified as he sent the keeper the wrong way to draw the Gulls level.
As Lemonheigh-Evans grabbed the ball out the net to get the game going again, the match finally seemed to be heading United’s way.
With 15 minutes to go, Johnson sent on Ruairi Keating in place of the hardworking Jake Andrews in the hope the he could replicate Tuesday’s last-gasp heroics. As it turned out though, their best chance fell the way of Lemonheigh-Evans with 12 minutes left. After some fine footwork again from Janneh, United’s midfielder blasted narrowly over the bar from 20 yards.
Just as Plainmoor was rousing itself for a grandstand finish, Weston tore up the script with a breakaway goal.
Bray, not long on the field, tore down the left at pace. With United committed to attack, he shrugged off the challenge of Lemonheigh-Evans to dart into the box and finish from the angle past MacDonald. Cue bedlam amongst the travelling support, and stunned silence elsewhere.
Although a Keating header bouncing narrowly wide shortly after, Torquay failed to trouble the keeper again as they fell to a disappointing defeat.
Results elsewhere dictated that United remained top of the table, and they have a swift opportunity to put things right at home to Chelmsford on Tuesday.
TUFC: Shaun MacDonald, Ben Wynter, Liam Davis, Kyle Cameron, Asa Hall (c), Saikou Janneh, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, Jean-Yves Koue Niate, Jake Andrews (Ruari Keating 75′), Jamie Reid, Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala SUBS NOT USED: Olaf Koszela, George Burton, Frank Vincent, Ryan Dickson
Bookings: Cameron (43′), Koue Niate (44′)
Weston-super-Mare: Luke Purnell (c), Jason Pope, George Nurse (Alex Bray 74′), Jake Lee, Aaron Parsons, Tom Harrison, Jarrad Welch (Jacob Cane 63′), Naby Diallo, Gethyn Hill (Jamie Lucas 86′), Jennison Myrie-Williams, Alex Byrne SUBS NOT USED: Eli Phipps, Tom Llewellyn
Bookings: Myrie-Williams (64′)
Attendance: 2,682 (68 away fans)