Torquay United came from behind to win 2-1 at St James Park at the expense of Exeter City in Sky Bet League 2.
A win for the Gulls means that their seemingly-inevitable relegation is prolonged for another week, while Exeter City still have work on to ensure that they will still be a Football League club next season.
It looked like things were going to go swimmingly when Scot Bennett
turned in a low shot after quarter of an hour, but Courtney Cameron’s free-kick after the interval tied things up.
And soon after, substitute Ashley Yeoman stabbed in what proved to be a winner as things remained murky at the foot of the table.
Centre-half Pat Baldwin
returned to the starting XI for Exeter City in place of captain Danny Coles
, who was only fit enough for the bench, and the former Colchester man also wore the armband.
Torquay, knowing that anything other than a win would see them relegated, started quickly and were putting early pressure on City’s back four. A ball through for Shaquile Coulthirst was pounced upon by the Spurs loanee who drove goalwards as Craig Woodman
slipped – but Jordan Moore-Taylor
held the striker up long enough for Danny Butterfield
to make a recovery challenge.
City began to find their feet and Nichols, on the left, set up Gill but he sliced across his shot. At the other end, a loose clearance was gobbled up by Elliot Benyon, and the striker hammered marginally over from 20 yards out.
And Exeter were first to break the deadlock, and it was Bennett – playing once again as a striker – that got the goal.
It was smart forward play from his strike partner Nichols, who drove to the byline, and his smart cut-back took goalkeeper Martin Rice out of the equation for the makeshift forward to slot in.
The Gulls continued to make things nervy for Exeter though – the raw pace of Courtney Cameron saw the left-winger save a lost cause at the left byline, tee up full-back Nathan Craig, and his delivery was headed a yard wide by Benyon at the back post.
Indeed with neither team looking particularly fluid in possession, it was Torquay’s direct style that had the home defence working hard. The lively Coulthirst almost drew a foul in the box from Woodman, but the City full-back was disciplined in the challenge.
At the other end of the field, Bennett dropped into a deeper role to stem the Torquay attack, but it was leaving Nichols a tad isolated. In a rare foray forward, Nichols was just tackled by Anthony O’Connor as he made a beeline for goal.
Gill also nearly set up City for an attack as he charged down O’Connor’s clearance – Nichols collected and Sercombe was in tow, but ultimately the chance passed with a softly-conceded foul.
Half-time: Exeter City 1 Torquay United 0
Much like the first half, the ball spent a lot of time in the air during the early exchanges of the second period. The first chance of note came as Eliot Richards
received from O’Flynn – who had been introduced at the break for Nichols – and he pulled back for Sercombe, who just dragged his shot wide.
But all of a sudden, Torquay flipped the game on its head with two quick goals and left Exeter chasing a deficit.
The first came as the Gulls won a free-kick on the edge of the D after a bit of a scramble outside the area. Cameron stepped up and curled an excellent effort into the net to give Torquay their equaliser.
Then O’Connor’s big boot forward fell perfectly for the Gulls’ half-time sub Yeoman to sprint onto and he stabbed a firm strike beyond Christy Pym
in the City net as the turnaround was complete.
It could – and perhaps should – have been 3-1 to the visitors just seconds later as Yeoman again latched onto another punt forward, but this time Pym saved well with his legs.
Richards was keen to make things tick for Exeter and had a pop-shot from outside the area, which just
was given the nod just after the hour in place of Gill, and soon after the winger teed up fellow sub O’Flynn for a low cross which just evaded Bennett.
Wheeler then had a chance of his own to affect matters as a ball into the box squirmed into his path off a Torquay leg, but his driven effort was wide of the target on the far side. Minutes earlier, his persistence on the wing had allowed him to beat full-back Baily Cargill and get into the area, only for a shot to be blocked out.
And other good chance came and went in the final five minutes as a game of head tennis in the area allowed Wheeler the chance to hit a bouncing ball with his left, but his effort looped onto the roof of the net.
The last chance of the game came for Richards, who headed goalwards from Danny Butterfield
’s delivery, after Matt Oakley
took the corner short, but Rice’s acrobatic save ensured that Torquay United lived to fight another day.
Full-time: Exeter City 1 Torquay United 2
Exeter City: Pym; Butterfield, Baldwin, Moore-Taylor, Woodman; Sercombe, Oakley, Gill (Wheeler 63), Bennett, Richards; Nichols (O’Flynn 46 (Grimes 80)).
Subs: Krysiak, Coles, Keohane, Parkin.
Goal: Bennett (16).
Torquay United: Rice, Tonge, Pearce, Lathrope, Mansell, Cameron, Craig (Yeoman 46), Benyon, Coulthirst (Harding 88), O’Connor, Cargill.
Subs: Poke, Downes, Chapell, Thompson, Stevens.
Goals: Cameron (52), Yeoman (56).
Attendance: 5,221 (478 away)
Referee: R. East