A SECOND half goal by the impressive John Marquis finally gave Torquay’s long-suffering fans some seasonal cheer at a chilly Plainmoor.
Torquay made two changes to the starting line-up, with Michael Poke coming in to replace ever-present goalkeeper Martin Rice. Poke had not made an appearance since being injured in pre-season.
Another change came in midfield, where winger Billy Bodin returned to the side, relegating fellow Welsh international Nathan Craig to the bench.
There were few chances in a lively but scoreless first half. Torquay’s best came after 30 minutes when Bodin forged forward and the ball broke for Jordan Chapell. His cross was met 10 yards from goal by Damien Mozika, but his firm header went just wide.
There were times in the first half when Torquay struggled to clear their lines into a strong wind, but Southend didn’t seriously trouble Poke in the opening 45 minutes.
Southend had their first serious effort on the Torquay goal in the opening seconds of the second period. Barry Corr drove a fierce shot from the edge of the box and Poke had to be at his acrobatic best to tip it over the bar.
Five minutes later John Marquis put Torquay in front with a crisp left foot shot from 15 yards after a clever chipped pass by Bodin.
Torquay came within an ace of stretching their lead moments later in an amazing goalmouth scramble. Anthony O’Connor hit the bar and Southend keeper Daniel Bentley made two great saves in the space of a few seconds.
With the wind now in their favour, Torquay took charge for the remainder of the game and were good value for the win, only their fourth of the season.
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