STOCKPORT COUNTY 2, TORQUAY UNITED 2
Two teams striving to regain their EFL status very much kept the dream alive after Stockport County and Torquay United fought out a hugely entertaining draw in front of the television cameras at Edgeley Park.
But it looks very much a case of the National League promotion play-offs for both clubs with Sutton United favourites to claim the one automatic place.
Torquay look set to finish runners-up with County and Hartlepool vying for third place which would exempt them until the semi finals and provide home advantage.
Back-to-back home draws against Dagenham & Redbridge and Torquay ended their hopes of finishing as champions.
Stockport took the lead through Macauley Southam-Hales only for a brace from Scott Boden to put The Gull into a 2-1 advantage before Jordan Keane levelled the scores.
The draw maintained the excellent runs for both sides. Stockport, who lost their league place in 2011, are unbeaten in 16 games and Torquay, out of the league since 2014, have gone 11 games without defeat.
Hundreds of fans had gathered outside the ground before the game to provide vocal support for the team they are unable to watch until next weekend’s home game against Woking.
County were without injured striker Paddy Madden, their recent big money signing from Fleetwood Town, and Ryan Rydel, also signed from the Coasters. They were replaced by Alex Reid and Tom Walker.
The Gulls made the brighter start as former Cardiff City trainee Connor Lemonheigh-Evans forced a flying save from Ben Hinchliffe while Armani Little volleyed over in front of goal.
County would have gone ahead after quarter of an hour when Reid was denied by a wonder save by Lucas Covolan, the former Brazil U20 international who once played in the same Vasco de Gama side as Philippe Coutinho.
Lemonheigh-Evans, signed from Bristol City after three loan spells, broke away on the left and chipped Hinchliffe only to see his effort strike the upright.
County went ahead in the 35th minute through a wonder strike from Southam-Hales, the former Cardiff City trainee.
The wide man cut in from the right and found the far top corner with a terrific effort, only his second goal of the season.
The Gulls were level with five minutes of an enthralling opening period left when Lemonheigh-Evans was tripped by Adam Croasdale and Boden smashed home a spot kick.
And Boden struck again 11 minutes into the second period to put the visitors ahead.
A brilliant build-up ended with Jake Andrews firing over a low cross from the left. Boden’s initial effort from six yards struck the crossbar, but he was on hand to react the quickest to force home the rebound.
It was the sixth goal Boden had scored for The Gulls since joining them on loan from Chesterfield in November.
County were level seven minutes later when central defender Palmer headed home John Rooney’s corner at the far post from a couple of yards.
The Gulls had a great chance to regain the lead with 13 minutes left when substitute Benji Kimpioka, a Swedish U21 international who is on loan from Sunderland, broke clear on the right.
Instead of shooting, Kimpioka squared the ball to Lemonheigh-Evans who mis-controlled and County had a huge let-off as the game ended all-square.