Torquay United 5 Crawley Town 6 – Gulls’ FA Cup run ends after 11 goal thriller

Torquay United were involved in the ‘Game of the Round’ at Plainmoor this afternoon – but will not be in the hat for the FA Cup second round draw after they lost 6-5 to League Two side Crawley Town.

In a game that lasted more than 140 minutes, Torquay led 2-0 at half time and 5-3 in extra time – before a late fightback by Crawley in the second half of extra time saw the visitors win the game 6-5 – with the heartbreaking goal coming with just two minutes left.

It was an astonishing game and one that fans watched in the ‘red button’ feature on their televisions. They won’t forget it in a while.
Top of the National League table and keen to measure themselves against League Two opposition, the Gulls kicked off at 12.45pm – it was 3.35 when the final whistle sounded.

Johnson made no changes to the team that beat Hartlepool United 5-0 live on BT Sport the previous Saturday, with five of the players on the bench also unchanged, but an extra two – Fraser Kerr and Billy Waters – added to the list of substitutes, with seven allowed in the competition.

Goal celebrations for Ben Whitfield of Torquay United during the FA Cup First Round Match between Torquay United and Crawley Town at Plainmoor on 8 November. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
Goal celebrations for Ben Whitfield of Torquay United during the FA Cup First Round Match between Torquay United and Crawley Town at Plainmoor on 8 November. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
(Image: Dave Crawford/PPAUK)

A lone bugleman played The Last Post to start two minutes of silence ahead of the game.

Ben Whitfield forced a corner on four minutes and Kyle Cameron’s floating header was turned over the bar by Tom McGill. A deflected Asa Hall shot meant a third corner in five minutes and a powerful Dean Moxey header was stopped by the head of a Crawley player. Danny Wright shot wide from a half-decent position when running through on goal in the ninth minute as Torquay continued their good start.

On 16 minutes Crawley won a free kick and from the rebound Ashley Nadesan hit the crossbar and Torquay scrambled to clear the ball from the area.

A minute later, Aaron Nemane picked up the ball down the right, ran into his own half, and just kept going – moving inside and beating McGill with a composed strike.

Goal celebrations for Aaron Nemane of Torquay United during the FA Cup First Round Match between Torquay United and Crawley Town at Plainmoor on 8 November. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
Goal celebrations for Aaron Nemane of Torquay United during the FA Cup First Round Match between Torquay United and Crawley Town at Plainmoor on 8 November. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
(Image: Dave Crawford/PPAUK)

The second goal on 24 minutes was created down the left-hand side – Whitfield finally playing a one-two with Nemane and beating the goalkeeper with a glorious shot.

A Cameron header from a Connor Lemonheigh-Evans free kick was straight at McGill on 25 minutes, and down the other end, Torquay goalkeeper Lucas Covolan stopped a Tyler Frost strike.

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Crawley began to get back into the game after the second goal but their defence backed off from Adam Randell at one stage and his shot was good – but not good enough to beat McGill.

Covolan punched clear a Jack Powell free kick before a minute of fireworks from behind the empty away end tested the ground’s acoustics. Powell’s post-fireworks shot was also blasted high at the other end.

Goal celebrations for Asa Hall, Captain of Torquay United during the FA Cup First Round Match between Torquay United and Crawley Town at Plainmoor on 8 November. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
Goal celebrations for Asa Hall, Captain of Torquay United during the FA Cup First Round Match between Torquay United and Crawley Town at Plainmoor on 8 November. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
(Image: Dave Crawford/PPAUK)

Whitfield hit the bar on 40 minutes after skipping through Crawley’s defence with ease leaving defenders at sixes and sevens. Covolan then stopped a shot from Josh Doherty as the Crawley player cut inside and neared the front post. Crawley went into the break 2-0 down – but certainly not out of it.

They didn’t start the second half well though, letting Torquay dictate the play. Their goalkeeper McGill was also hurt in a clash with Lemonheigh-Evans as Torquay attacked. He had got to the ball first ahead of Wright, but was hurt when he was caught by Lemonheigh-Evans’ boot as the midfielder went for the second chance.

After a long delay – about 13 minutes of treatment on the pitch – McGill, who is on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion, was stretchered off and replaced by Stuart Nelson. The game restarted with a ‘dropped ball’ at Nelson’s feet.

Crawley had their best period after the restart, putting pressure on United’s goal – but the defence held well with Sam Sherring making one particularly good header at the back.

Goal celebrations for Josh Umerah of Torquay United during the FA Cup First Round Match between Torquay United and Crawley Town at Plainmoor on 8 November. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
Goal celebrations for Josh Umerah of Torquay United during the FA Cup First Round Match between Torquay United and Crawley Town at Plainmoor on 8 November. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
(Image: Dave Crawford/PPAUK)

Nemane won a free kick right on the edge of the Crawley box on 71 minutes, but Randell drilled the ball into the wall. Torquay were beginning to dominate again and Nemane made a wonderful run into the box, supplying Wright, who couldn’t direct the ball goalwards.

It felt like a third goal was coming, but when it did – it went to Crawley. Nadesan was brought down in the box in the 83rd minute by Ben Wynter, and the former Exeter City man Tom Nichols smashed the ball home.

Lemonheigh-Evans was replaced by Armani Little, and Josh Umerah came on for Wright before the restart. Umerah had the ball taken off his foot as he was about to shoot in the 89th minute. Randell also drilled a low shot wide.

When the game passed the 90th-minute mark, the fourth official raised his board – and it read: 18 minutes! Covolan saved a good Max Watters chance on 91 minutes, and it was Crawley who were now looking the more dangerous. Gary Warren came on for Nemane in the 94th minute to strengthen the defence. An Umerah snatch-shot went way wide as the burly frontman put himself about, and he had another shot which went straight at Nelson.

In the 104th minute, a mix-up between Hall and Randell 30 yards out ended up Hall’s boot in his teammate’s face. Watters ended up with the ball and ran into the box and beat Covolan with a good strike.

Goal celebrations for Josh Umerah of Torquay United during the FA Cup First Round Match between Torquay United and Crawley Town at Plainmoor on 8 November. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
Goal celebrations for Josh Umerah of Torquay United during the FA Cup First Round Match between Torquay United and Crawley Town at Plainmoor on 8 November. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
(Image: Dave Crawford/PPAUK)

In the 107th minute, Umerah made it 3-2 when he got on the end of a lovely low cross from Whitfield. In the 111th minute, Crawley attacked again and Jordan Tunnicliffe equalised with a strike at the back post!

In extra time, Umerah had a shot saved, before he was pulled down in the box in the 11th minute – and Hall sent the goalkeeper the wrong way for a 4-3 lead.

When Cameron was held in the box – quite blatantly – in the second half of extra time, Hall was just as accurate with his second strike from the spot.

Tom Nichols of Crawley Town celebrates equalising 5-5 during the FA Cup First Round Match between Torquay United and Crawley Town at Plainmoor on 8 November. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
Tom Nichols of Crawley Town celebrates equalising 5-5 during the FA Cup First Round Match between Torquay United and Crawley Town at Plainmoor on 8 November. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
(Image: Dave Crawford/PPAUK)

But Nichols made it 5-4 four minutes into the second period, scoring from a bit of a scramble in the Torquay box. Waters came on for Whitfield and was immediately booked.

Eight minutes in, Nichols completed his hat-trick with a great header from the back post for 5-5 before Nadeson ran through and struck the winner with just two minutes to go – to put an end to an incredible match.

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