Roberts’ injury time stunner gives Hawks a dramatic FA Cup draw at Torquay United

A stunning 93rd minute leveller from James Roberts gave Hawks a dramatic 2-2 draw at higher tier Torquay United in this afternoon’s FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie at Plainmoor.

By Simon Carter
Saturday, 16th October 2021, 5:10 pm
Hawks fans at Plainmoor. Pic: Martyn White
Hawks fans at Plainmoor. Pic: Martyn White

The striker arrowed a 20-yard shot into the top corner to earn Paul Doswell’s men a Wednesday replay at Westleigh Park.

It looked as if Hawks’ bid for an upset was going to end after sub Jake Andrews had put the National League hosts into an 86th minute lead.

After a goalless first half, Torquay went ahead on 66 minutes when Hawks’ sub keeper Charlie Searle could not hold an Armani Little free-kick and full-back Ben Wynter was unmarked to poach the rebound from close range.

Hawks levelled 10 minutes later when sub Alex Wall - who had only been on the pitch four minutes - reacted quickly to nod into an empty net after Roberts’ shot across keeper Shaun MacDonald had rebounded off the inside of the post.

Doswell, unsurprisingly, had announced the same Hawks starting XI that had raced into a 4-0 half-time lead against Concord Rangers the previous weekend.

Gulls boss Gary Johnson made two changes - bringing in Portsmouth-born Keelan O’Connell on the left wing and Ali Omar as one of two centre halves in a changed 4-4-2 formation from the one that had lost 2-0 at Bromley playing 3-5-2 last time out.

Torquay, coming into the game on the back of successive National League losses, started brightly with Hawks looking very open at times but the Gulls failing to produce a decent final ball.

On 10 minutes, left-back Dean Moxey passed inside to striker Dan Holman, who turned and sent a shot just past the post from the edge of the penalty box.

Hawks were content to play long balls up to front two James Roberts and Tommy Wright, rather than using wing-backs Josh Passley and Michael Green.

Hawks defender Sam Magri, on a run into the Gulls half, played in Roberts on the left, who cut inside but fired high and wide.

Searle was introduced on 22 minutes with Worner failing to last the first half of a game at Plainmoor for the second time in three visits. He had previously gone off in the first half of Sutton’s NL win in February 2017.

It was only Searle’s second competitive appearance since being signed from Baffins in the summer, having previously played in the Hampshire Senior Cup against Winchester in front of a crowd of under 150.

Billy Clifford’s 20-yard angled effort flew wide before Passley nicked the ball of Moxey and fed Roberts, this time on the right, who shot into the side netting.

The hosts responded and there were huge shouts for a 35th minute penalty when Jamie Collins brought Holman down just outside the six-yard box. From the press box high up in the main stand, it looked a penalty but referee Dale Wootton waved play on.

Sixty seconds later, O’Connell was inches away from breaking the deadlock - his shot from inside the 18-yard box smashing against the underside of the bar, Hawks hacking the ball to safety.

There was another alarm for Hawks when Searle spilled the ball under little pressure, but again the danger was cleared.

Using wing-backs brought Hawks their first corner on 43 minutes, when Clifford found Passley on the right and his cross was headed behind.

Gulls boss Gary Johnson made an attacking change at the interval, bringing on striker Klaidi Lolos for Tom Lapslie.

It was Hawks who were the better side for the first 15 minutes of the restart, Jake McCarthy seeing a low shot saved by MacDonald and Tommy Wright finishing off a swift counter attack with a right-foot shot which struck the inside of a post.

Torquay went ahead when Collins was booked for a foul and, from the resulting free-kick, Little’s effort was parried by Searle and Wynter could hardly miss from the rebound.

Roberts was instrumental in Hawks’ levelling, skipping past a challenge on the left side, sprinting into the penalty area, waiting for MacDonald to come out, and sliding a shot across the keeper which hit the post for Wall to nod in the rebound.

Two subs combined to put the Gulls back in front with four minutes of normal time remaining - Lolos dribbling past two challenges in the 18-yard box before squaring low across the six-yard area for Andrews to net at the far post.

That seemed the end of Hawks’ FA Cup adventure, but from a long Michael Green throw in the ball found its way to Roberts on the right hand side of the 18-yard box - and Collins, now a sub, ended up running on the pitch holding a flare in front of the celebrating Hawks fans!

Torquay (4-4-2): MacDonald, Wynter, Moxey, Omar, Lewis, Lapslie, Little, Johnson, O’Connell, Lemonheigh-Evans, Holman.

Hawks (3-5-2): Worner (Searle, 22), Passley, Green, Oastler, Collins, Magri, McCarthy, Clifford, Gobern, Roberts, Wright.