Torquay United will be playing National League South football again next season after avoiding the drop to the Southern League with a 2-1 win at Taunton Town this evening.

Whatever happens at Torquay on Saturday when they take on Havant & Waterlooville, Torquay cannot now finish in the relegation zone after a battling performance at Wordsworth Drive, where they also had to survive a gruelling 12 minutes of second-half injury time.

Torquay started so well and were 2-0 ahead by half time after goals by Brett McGavin and Asa Hall. But they were really tested in the second half with Ollie Chamberlain getting a goal back within minutes of the restart. But survive they did, and with a summer of change forecast for the club in administration, starting again next season at the same level after having 11 points deducted is a huge positive.

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Aaron Downes named an unchanged side with Lewis Collins coming back onto the bench and youngster Jacob Wellington dropping out. Duane Ofori-Acheampong failed a fitness test and there was no sign of injured players Aaron Jarvis, Kevin Dawson and Dan Martin.

It took a while for the game to settle down. Mark Halstead had to palm away a long throw-in under pressure as the ball fell into the six-yard box. Arkell Jude-Boyd shot from outside the area in the 10th minute but Dan Lavercombe held the ball well after a couple of skips on the bobbly pitch. Tom Lapslie got the ball stuck under his feet after Hall had flicked a Moxey throw-in - and Brad Ash couldn't mop up the chance, with Lavercombe falling on the ball.

McGavin scored from 22 yards in the 17th minute - at the end of a great move that he started. Jack Stobbs found Lapslie in the box from the left and the midfielder played the ball back to McGavin to hit from space. Jude-Boyd was allowed to run at goal from midfield but his shot rolled wide - but it was 2-0 in the 30th minute when McGavin sent a corner into the box and Hall swung a foot at the ball to smash it into the roof of the net.

Goal celebration for Brett McGavin of Torquay United during National League South match between Taunton Town and Torquay United at Wordsworth Drive on 16 April, 2024 in Taunton , England (Photo by Mat Mingo/PPAUK)

Hall was clattered into while defending a corner, but was up after some treatment. Stobbs was on the end of a tough challenge, right on the edge of the box, in the 40th minute. From the free kick, Stobbs knocked the ball to McGavin, whose shot hit the Taunton wall. At the other end, as four minutes were added on, Ash threw his body in the way of a shot to thwart the home side.

Taunton made it 2-1 inside a minute and a half of the restart. There was a long throw-in which found its way right across the box where Ollie Chamberlain was waiting for it. The player struck it sweely and the ball arrowed past Halstead and into the net.

Archer shot over at the end of a good run down the left. Halstead was fouled in the area and Ross Stern hit the ball into the back of the net before he realised the referee had blown his whistle. It was a dramatic start to the half. Lapslie found Ash inside the box but the striker's shot was straight at Lavercombe. It was a great chance.

Stobbs shot over in the 57th minute after a good period of play. Ash was brought down on the 18-yard line in the 61st minute - but McGavin hit a curling free kick over the bar. Ethon Archer had a shot blocked as the Gulls kept up the pressure. In the 70th minute, a cross to the far post from a McGavin corner found Laplsie at the back post but the midfielder's volley back across goal was held by Lavercombe. A shot by Lloyd James was charged down by Lapslie at the other end.

Goal celebration for Asa Hall of Torquay United during National League South match between Taunton Town and Torquay United at Wordsworth Drive on 16 April, 2024 in Taunton , England (Photo by Mat Mingo/PPAUK)

Torquay were still trying to play the ball forward, with Ash working hard but a little isolated up front, while Taunton were hitting it long and looking quite dangerous at times. Lewis Collins, who was sick for the last game, replaced Stobbs in the 76th minute. Collins was involved in a clash of heads moments later. It looked like he might have come straight off - but he resumed the game after treatment. Within another minute though, he was subbed off for Austen Booth.

McGavin shot wide from distance, and then Taunton hit the post through Zac Bell and the ball fell to Evander Grubb, who hit the rebound over. It was a bad miss. But Taunton were piling on the pressure now. It was nervy stuff as the game approached 90 minutes.

The twelve minutes were added on and Downes picked up a booking as Torquay worked hard to keep the ball away from their goal. A lovely tackle from Booth ended one attack with nine minutes of time-added-on gone. Lavercombe launched a free kick into Torquay's box but the ball was cleared by Booth. There was a late chance for Archer but it was blocked before the referee put the whistle to his lips.

More than 800 Torquay fans celebrated with the players at the end - and Saturday's game at Plainmoor will be a breeze after this. A time to relax at the end of a remarkable season for the club and its fans.

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