Gulls need penalties to clinch last eight spot in St Luke's Bowl
THE ST LUKE'S Devon Bowl has brought only defeat and embarrassment to Torquay United in recent seasons, and they won't be relishing another trip to Newton Abbot to face Buckland Athletic in the Quarter-Finals after their Reserves needed penalties to overcome Liverton United at Coach Road this week.
Buckland have knocked the Gulls out in each of the last two seasons.
Liverton did the Peninsula League proud with a display that embraced not only spirit but also quality in passing on a pitch which did not encourage it.
When they took the lead at 2-1 early in the second half, a major upset looked on the cards.
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But United's superior fitness saw them dominate the closing stages and a 75th minute equaliser by left-back Tom Cruise proved enough to take the tie to penalties.
Liverton could not convert any of their first three spot-kicks by Simon Laughton, Dan Kingscote or Craig Fenner, after all three had played well in the match itself.
Second-year scholar Danny Sullivan also missed for United, but Saul Halpin, Niall Thompson and Karl Baker all converted.
The Gulls did not help themselves with mistakes in key areas for the first hour, and Oliver Booth nearly took advantage of one after only two minutes, shooting narrowly wide.
It still looked as if it would turn into a routine victory for Torquay when Halpin headed firmly home from Ashley Yeoman's left-wing cross in the seventh minute.
But four minutes later Liverton equalised after an incident which saw Gulls goalie Martin Rice lucky to escape with only a yellow card after bringing down Jordan Lamm.
Referee Marc Whaley ruled that Lamm was heading away from goal – he had little alternative after beating the advancing Rice – but Nick Rudge tucked away the penalty.
The midfield trio of Rudge, Kingscote and Booth dominated play for long periods, while United failed to exploit the pace of right-winger Thompson enough.
After Stefan Chubb missed two clear chances just after the interval, Jamie Chamberlain made it 2-1 in the 52nd minute, following up after Rice saved his first shot.
Liverton manager Tony Bowker made a triple-substitution in the 65th minute, taking off Chamberlain, Lamm and Chubb.
They were never quite the same threat again, and Cruise equalised with a 15-yard left-foot shot moments after Mr Whaley had turned down what looked like a strong penalty shout after Halpin was tripped.
Substitute Danny Sullivan and Halpin both went close for Torquay near the end.
"I can't understand how Martin Rice stayed on the field for our penalty," said Bowker.
"I wanted to get some fresh legs on in the second half, but the substitutions didn't really work out as we wanted," said Bowker.
"I'm so proud of the way our lads played, and I'm only disappointed that we haven't got a game this weekend because Bodmin are involved in the FA Vase."