Torquay United goalkeeper scores dramatic injury-time equaliser in playoff final

Max Cooper
The unlikeliest of heroes
The unlikeliest of heroes / Harry Trump/Getty Images

Torquay United goalkeeper Lucas Covolan scored a dramatic, injury-time equaliser in the National League playoff final on Sunday afternoon, taking Hartlepool United to extra-time at Ashton Gate.

The Gulls were forced to chase the game from the 35th minute, after forward Luke Armstrong gave Hartlepool the lead with a great finish, inching the Monkey Hangers ever closer to promotion glory.

Torquay's hopes of re-entering the football league were disappearing with each passing second, as the game ticked into injury-time. Gary Johnson's men were handed one final roll of the dice in the fifth minute of added time, when they were awarded a free kick midway inside the Pools half.

The chasing side threw everybody into the box for this last chance, and even goalkeeper Covolan made a dash into the area. It was a much-needed gamble so late in the game - and one that paid off in stunning fashion.

The ball was floated into the heart of the penalty area, causing chaos in a panicking Pools backline. Monkey Hangers goalkeeper Brad James came charging out of his six-yard box to try and meet the delivery, but he got nowhere near the ball, ending up in no man's land.

From nowhere, Torquay shot-stopper Covolan leapt high into the air, floating towards the ball and making the perfect connection, allowing the cross to skim off the top of his head. This dainty flick beat the defence, and Hartlepool's warriors could only watch as the header bounced over the goal line.

Covolan celebrated wildly, wheeling away to find a teammate to hug and embrace. It was a vital, last-gasp goal for Torquay, whose ambitions of returning to League Two were suddenly revived from the brink of extinction.

Torquay ended the National League campaign in second spot, while Hartlepool finished fourth, only four points behind their playoff final rivals.

Unfortunately for Covolan, his effort was in vein as Hartlepool eventually triumphed 5-4 on penalties.