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Torquay United v Southend United – Vanarama National League – Plainmoor Stadium
Torquay United 1-0 Southend United
Southend’s non-league baptism of fire continued, on Saturday, as the last-gasp Gulls claimed the points courtesy of Conor Lemon-Heigh Evans’s 90th-minute strike.
Despite an arguably improved showing, the newly-relegated Shrimpers have now gone a whole month winless, capping a week of three, forgettable defeats.
The opening period saw the hosts dominate, with former Plymouth man, Klaidi Lolos wanting too many touches, on the edge of the six-yard box, and saw his 22nd-minute effort blocked.
A guarded Southend saw them rarely leave own half, but finding space, approaching the interval, Abu Ogogo nodded Jack Bridge’s flag-kick over, before Rhys Murphy curled a free-kick agonizingly wide.
Southend made a business-like start to second-half, with Sam Dalby – on the turn – shooting just wide, on 54 minutes.
Having only tested Steve Arnold just the once, with Danny Wright firing straight at the gloveman, Southend had to weather constant waves of Torquay pressure.
That domination – ultimately paid off when Ben Winter’s free-kick was only half-cleared, which saw Dean Moxey’s low cross to fall for the unmarked ex-Bristol City man, Evans, to crash home an undeserved winner.
Under pressure Southend boss, Phil Brown admitted: “Anyone who has lost three games in a row is going to be under pressure. The hole we are in is becoming a chasm. We’re haemorrhaging at the moment – and that’s as a collective.”
He added: “We’d have taken a nil-nil, but James Dunne puts a ball into their six-yard and we don’t get anywhere near it, and it goes out of play. It could have been one-nil to us. Then, a minute later we go and concede.”
Brown concluded: “Hopefully, the introduction of one, or two players will help. But, sometimes it just takes an inch to turn things around. But, we made the changes, bringing on the young lads – although the outcome wasn’t acceptable. We now have dust ourselves down.”
Southend keeper, Arnold added: “This result hurts all of us – although there is still a long way to go. But I can understand our fans’ frustrations – especially after a five-hour journey.”
“There’s only so much a manager can do. We need to be more clinical in both boxes, and use these two weeks [without a fixture] to reset and go again.”
Conciliatory Torquay boss, Gary Johnson said: “I don’t wish to disrespect the opposition – but they’ll get better and start picking up results. And, I know how Phil will be feeling after conceding in the last minute – it’s a killer.”
Southend United return to Vanarama National League action on Saturday, October 2 when they face Solihull Moors at the SportNation.bet Stadium (3pm)
Torquay United: Shaun McDonald, Ben Wynter, Joe Lewis, Dean Moxey, Chiori Johnson, Conor Lemon-Heigh Evans, Asa Hall, Keelan O’Connell (Ali Omar 90′), Gabby Rogers (Alex Addai 70′), Klaidi Lolos (Dan Holman 82′), Danny Wright Subs not used: Dan Martin, Marcin Brzozowski (GK)
Southend United: Steve Arnold, Terrell Egbri, John White (Capt), Josh Coulson, Nathan Ralph, Will Atkinson, Abu Ogogo, Jack Bridge (Hamzad Kargbo 81′), James Dunne, Rhys Murphy (Matthew Dennis 68′), Sam Dalby Subs not used: Shaun Hobson, Harry Seaden (GK), Jason Demetriou.
Referee: Scott Jackson
Assistants: Michael Begley and Justin Amey
Fourth Official: Callum Walker.