VERDICT: Torquay United 2 Bury 1
RETURNING captain Craig Jones apologised to the 75 Bury fans who made the long trip down to the Devon coast and were sent home with little to cheer about.
Clive Platt’s second-half equaliser was the highlight of a miserable night at Plainmoor that revived bottom-club Torquay’s fight for League Two survival and dented the Shakers’ own hopes of escaping the relegation battle.
An eighth-minute header from Gulls captain Lee Mansell and stoppage-time winner from substitute Ashley Yeoman ensured Platt’s second goal in Bury colours counted for nothing.
And while results elsewhere ensured Bury only dropped one place in the table to 18th and retained their four-point cushion over the drop zone, Jones admitted that was scant consolation.
“I can only apologise to the fans that have travelled down because it was a game we thought we were capable of winning,” said the Bury skipper, who returned earlier than expected after missing the previous three drawn matches with a hamstring injury.
“When we got the goal I thought there was only going to be one team that would go on and win the game.
“But we were below par, especially in the first half, and have let ourselves down.”
An early mistake from teenaged goalkeeper Reice Charles-Cook set the tone for a sloppy first-half display.
The 19-year-old enjoyed a dream league debut on Saturday, keeping a clean sheet after replacing experienced stopper Brian Jensen at half time in the 0-0 draw at Southend.
But his first ever league start quickly turned into a nightmare when, in the sixth minute, Elliot Benyon robbed the ball off him as he dallied in the box and Pablo Mills was forced to head the Torquay striker’s shot off the line.
Charles-Cook was clearly shaken, and the home crowd did little to ease his nerves, mocking an embarrassing sliced clearance that he only managed to send into touch at the second attempt.
But there was little he could do to stop Torquay’s eighth-minute opener, as Mansell headed home Dave Tong’s pinpoint cross from the right, unmarked from six yards out.
The goal was all Torquay deserved after making a flying start, while Bury’s sloppiness in possession was further intensified by their keeper’s nervy clearances.
They slowly gained a foothold in the game, however, as Daniel Nardiello, back after missing Saturday’s trip to Southend with a muscle strain, tested Torquay stopper Martin Rice with a 25-yard volley.
Jones went even closer in the 25th minute, storming on to a Tom Soares through-ball and beating the last man before fizzing a low shot just wide of the far post.
That settled the visitors down and they slowly regained their composure without threatening the Torquay goal for the remainder of the half.
Platt did give the Bury fans hope after the break, going close with a header, but the early momentum remained with the home side, as Kevin Nicholson came close to doubling their advantage with a curling free-kick that rustled the side-netting.
Undaunted, David Flitcroft’s side showed the fighting spirit that had seen them lose just once in their previous 10 matches, as Platt reacted quickest in the 66th-minute when a Chris Sedgwick free-kick broke clear in the box and he planted a cool finish into the bottom corner.
The veteran striker’s second goal for Bury – the first coming in their last defeat, at Cheltenham - lifted the visitors, who looked on course for a fourth consecutive draw, at least.
Aaron Downes could easily have restored Torquay’s lead, however, with a header that flew past Charles-Cook’s far post.
The Bury keeper then got down well to deny substitute Jayden Stockley as the game became stretched.
But after Platt had a decent shot saved, Torquay went straight up the other end and Yeoman seized on a mistake from fellow substitute Jake Carroll to slam home the winner from six yards in the first minute of stoppage time.
“It’s galling to concede in the last minute in the manner in which we did – to a ball just thrown into the box,” said Flitcroft.
“It’s got to be cleared and seen off. We do that and we come away with a well earned and well deserved point. But to come away with nothing is very disappointing.”
TORQUAY UNITED: Rice; Tonge, Downes, Pearce, Nicholson; Goodwin, Lathrope, Mansell, Cameron (Stevens 46); Showunmi (Stockley 76), Benyon (Yeoman 76).
Not used: Poke, Harding, Hawley, O'Connor.
BURY: Charles-Cook 4; Veseli 5, Mills 7, McNulty 5; Jones 6, Sedgwick 6, Tutte 5, Soares 6 (Hussey 6 55); Mayor 6 (Carroll 88); Nardiello 6 (Akpa-Akpro 6 73), Platt 7.
Not used: Hinds, Grimes, Young, Jensen.
Goals: Torquay United – Mansell 8, Yeoman 90+1. Bury – Platt 66.
Yellow cards: Torquay – Cameron 32, Pearce 45+1, Benyon 53, Mansell 80. Bury – Mills 54 Referee: David Phillips (West Sussex).
Attendance: 1,738 (75 visiting).
Star man: Clive Platt – The big target man’s second goal in Bury colours again counted for nothing following his first strike in a 2-1 defeat at Cheltenham earlier this month. He certainly didn’t deserve to have his moment of glory cancelled out, this time by Ashley Yeoman’s stoppage-time strike. The 36-year-old showed a cool head to calmly slot Bury’s equaliser into the bottom corner and was unlucky not to put them ahead with a late chance, moments before the Gulls’ cruel late winner.
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