Billericay Town 0
(Lumbombo-Kalala 80′, Reid 82′)
United delivered when it mattered at the AGP Arena to maintain their place at the top of National League South.
Two goals in the last ten minutes from substitute Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala and leading scorer Jamie Reid saw The Gulls leave Essex with all three points.
Gary Johnson made one change from the side which lost to Weston-super-Mare last Saturday, with Ruairi Keating replacing Kalala, with the Frenchman taking his place on the bench.
United began the game well, with a first minute ball over the top finding Reid in space, before a covering defender intervened to give United a corner. Although Torquay couldn’t make it count, the tone was set as they bossed the opening stages.
In the 27th minute, the Gulls created the first real chance of the game. Captain Asa Hall found Reid with a delightful through-ball. United’s leading scorer let fly towards the Billericay net, but Charlie Wassmer arrived in the nick of time to deflect the effort behind.
The gale-force wind ensured this would not be a match for the purists, and with both sides aware of the magnitude of the game, chances were at a premium.
Saikou Janneh came closest to breaking the deadlock six minutes before the interval. On the turn, he fired towards goal but Joe Kizzi slid in to prevent the shot testing Alan Julian in the Town goal.
The nearest the home side came to testing Shaun MacDonald came on the stroke of half-time as the Torquay keeper spilled a high ball amid a crowded goalmouth.
Johnson’s men survived, and as the whistle blew for the interval, both sides could look back on a half that was full of commitment, if not goal scoring chances.
Billericay started the second half the better, winning two corners inside the first five minutes, although neither called MacDonald into action.
The stop-start nature of proceedings continued as both sides struggled to maintain any momentum and create anything of note going forward.
As frustrations began to surface on both the field and terraces, the home side began to win a number of free-kicks that threatened to break United’s resolve.
Johnson rang the changes with just over 20 minutes to go, with Ryan Dickson and Kalala replacing Jake Andrews and Keating.
Dickson promptly made his presence felt by floating in a delightful free-kick into the Town penalty area, which just evaded Hall.
Just when it looked like the game would edge towards a goalless draw, Torquay hit Billericay with a double-punch of real quality.
In the 80th minute, Hall, who had driven his team on during a sometimes unforgiving afternoon, threaded Kalala into space, and the French substitute coolly slipped the ball past Julian to give the Gulls a hugely important lead.
The travelling Yellow Army celebrated wildly and then began to brace themselves for the onslaught… no need.
Within two minutes, some fine interplay between Torquay’s top scorers saw Janneh feed Reid, and United’s top scorer finished with typical confidence to double the lead. Scarcely believable, but utterly brilliant.
Temperatures began to rise in the final stages as Billericay’s displeasure began to show, and United had to keep their cool during six additional minutes of time added on by the referee.
As the final whistle sounded, fist punches all round signalled a huge result for United. Still nine games to go, but United will face Dartford at Plainmoor next Saturday boosted by one of their most impressive results of the season.
BTFC: Alan Julian, Joe Kizzi, Michee Efete, Jake Howells (c), Charlie Wassmer, Alfie Potter (Sam Deering 68′), Kieron Cadogan, Danny Waldren (Jamie O’Hara 83′), Jake Robinson, Ross Lafayette (Moses Emmanuel 76′), Jamar Loza. SUBS NOT USED: Lloyd Doyley, Paul Rooney
Sending-off: Wassmer (88′)
TUFC: Shaun MacDonald, Ben Wynter, Liam Davis, Kyle Cameron, Ruari Keating (Ryan Dickson 69′), Asa Hall (c), Saikou Janneh, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, Jean-Yves Koue Niate, Jake Andrews (Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala 69′), Jamie Reid (Frank Vincent 89′) SUBS NOT USED: Olaf Koszela, George Burton.
Bookings: Reid (33′), Hall (53′)
Attendance: 1,324 (257 away)