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Friday, May 22, 1998 Published at 21:40 GMT 22:40 UK



Sport: Football

Colchester promoted
image: [ Colchester players celebrate after their 1-0 victory ]
Colchester players celebrate after their 1-0 victory

Colchester have won the division three play-off final at Wembley, though it took a dubious penalty to give them their 1-0 victory over Torquay.

Midfielder David Gregory held his nerve to steer the spot-kick home off the left-hand post, sending keeper Matthew Greg the wrong way.

Colchester were awarded the penalty in the 22nd minute when Steve Forbes tried to lift the ball over the lunge of Torquay defender Jon Gittens.

But the ball hit the former Swindon and Portsmouth defender's trailing arm and referee Mick Fletcher pointed the spot.


[ image: Steve Forbes was only denied by a last minute tackle]
Steve Forbes was only denied by a last minute tackle
Gittens' nightmare was confirmed in the 45th minute when he spurned the Devon side's best chance of the first half, spooning the ball over the bar from three yards out after striker Andy McFarlane had had a shot blocked on the line.

Torquay had made the early running, with their leading scorer Rodney Jack worrying the Colchester defence with his pace on a number of occasions.

After the opening goal, the game was far more even, with Gregory's younger brother Neil shooting just over when well placed in the penalty area.

Early in the second half the Torquay keeper Gregg - a 19-year-old in his first full season who was replacing suspended veteran Ken Veysey - almost allowed Colchester to claim a soft second goal when he allowed a 25-yard shot from full-back Simon Betts to creep under his body, but the ball trickled over the line for a corner.

Torquay were clearly shaken and Forbes was only denied a shooting chance by a last ditch tackle after he had jinked around three defenders into the area.


[ image: Rodney Jack was a constant threat to Colchester]
Rodney Jack was a constant threat to Colchester
Colchester defended stoutly through the second half, and could have had a second penalty on the hour when full-back Paul Gibbs appeared to bring down Gregory as he charged through.

Heartened by his escape, Gibbs piled forward and saw a fierce shot deflected wide soon afterwards, while Gittens missed another chance when he headed over the bar and Jack shot past the post.

While Colchester celebrated their first promotion from division three in 22 years, you had to feel sorry for Torquay who only missed relegation to the Vauxhall Conference by three points last year, and yet were just one point short of automatic promotion this season.






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