IT SHOULD HAVE been remembered as Martin Rice's night, so well did Torquay United's goalkeeper play at the County Ground this week, but not even he could keep a youthful, vibrant Swindon Town at bay forever.
The Robins must have wondered if they were ever going to break through when Rice saved Alex Pritchard's penalty and then pulled off a stunning double save from Pritchard and Andy Williams in the 70th minute.
But the prolonged stoppage for United substitute Elliot Benyon's worrying knock-out proved the turning-point.
Swindon 'switched on' quicker than the Gulls after eight minutes were needed for Benyon to be treated and then stretchered off in the 80th minute.
Barely two minutes later United were caught on the counter, something they'd coped with well all night, and for once Rice could not save them.
Miles Storey's low cross-shot from the left of the area just eluded Rice's outstretched hand and Williams was there to finish from close range at the far post.
United manager Alan Knill was quick to praise Rice, who once again allied smart shot-stopping to confident all-round play.
Rice has taken over from the injured Michael Poke through pre-season and the start of the campaign proper, and Knill said: "Martin deserves to be in goal, full stop – that's the biggest compliment you can pay him.
"He's really come on this season, and at the moment he's on top form.
"I would prefer it if he wasn't working so much, but everyone in the camp is pleased for him, that he's playing so well.
"When Ricey saves the penalty, we really fancied ourselves.
"We set out with a plan to press them all over the pitch, although it took us 20 minutes to get it how we wanted it.
"Then we had a really good spell before half-time, and you've got to score when you're on top then.
"We were still in with a good chance in the second half – we weren't sure about their penalty, but Ricey saved it anyway.
"But Elliot goes on, then has to come off straight away. So that plan went out of the window.
"And, after eight minutes delay, a slight lack of concentration by us and all of a sudden we're 1-0 down.
"In fairness, I don't think we really threatened too much after that."
Knill started with new signings Callum Ball and Karl Hawley up front, and he also recalled Jordan Chapell on the right wing for Courtney Cameron.
United worked hard from the start, former Swindon forward Billy Bodin and Krystian Pearce both having early half-chances. But they had their work cut out containing Swindon's quick-passing, pacy attacks.
Rice saved well from Pritchard and Williams, and home fans howled for a penalty when Pearce appeared to barge Williams over as he tried to protect his own nervy back pass in the 26th minute.
Swindon have signed six players, four on loan and two permanently, from Spurs this summer. And they certainly passed and moved like youngsters educated in a Premier League school.
Pritchard, never content just to test the determined Dale Tonge, was a threat all night.
But in the last 15 minutes of the first half United started to turn the tide.
Callum Ball, holding the ball up with increasing confidence, combined well with Kevin Nicholson to set up a shot on the turn, blocked, by Hawley.
Ball drew a good save from Wes Foderingham, Aaron Downes and Hawley had efforts charged down and Chapell fired just wide from the edge of the area.
Swindon's caretaker manager Mark Cooper made a double change at half-time, and the introduction of Storey and Massimo Luongo, another Spurs starlet, did nothing to weaken their attack.
Rice produced another top-drawer save from Story, but in the 55th minute United seemed to have gifted Swindon the lead.
Downes had a crossfield pass cut out, Pritchard cut into the area from the left and any contact from the pursuing Lee Mansell was bound to be risky.
Down went Pritchard and referee Andy D'Urso pointed to the spot.
Pritchard took the spot-kick himself, but Rice guessed correctly, dived to his left, parried the shot and United scrambled the ball clear.
Rice also pulled off a brilliant double-save from Pritchard, slipped through by the impressive Yaser Kasim, and Williams, with Town claiming that the latter's shot off foot of the post had crossed the line before Rice smothered it.
It was impossible for referee or linesman, both unsighted, to confirm it.
Seconds before, in the 69th minute, Knill had sent on Benyon for Hawley, and in Benyon's first challenge for the ball, his head made shuddering contact with Louis Thompson's knee as he fell to the ground.
United's striker never moved a muscle as physios, medics and Swindon's club doctor went to his aid.
Everyone was understandably concerned, but the eight minutes of stoppage-time, before Benyon was carried off and Cameron went on, definitely affected United more than Swindon.
In the 83rd minute Storey's counter-attack from midfield caught an over-stretched Gulls defence and Williams was there to finish.
Niall Thompson, on for Tonge near the end, could not have enjoyed his short time on the pitch.
A risky infield pass from the right wing was cut out by Williams, forcing Rice to make one more top save, and Thompson was then booked for kicking the ball away after conceding a foul.
Still, it wasn't as if United had the home goal under siege then and Swindon deserved to go through.