ACCRINGTON Stanley slipped to defeat at second-placed Torquay United this afternoon after Rene Howe grabbed the only goal of the game with 17 minutes remaining.

Stanley handed a first senior start to youth team star Ryan Hopper as they made the trip to Devon but Torquay had chances before half time, with Kevin Nicholson and Eunan O’Kane both firing wide.

Mark Ellis hooked a shot over for the hosts after the interval and then missed an open goal, although substitute Ian Craney lobbed the ball narrowly too high at the other end.

Howe, though, broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute with a curling effort into the top corner.

Will Hatfield came off the bench and came close to levelling but saw his shot saved.

Stanley: Ian Dunbavin, Craig Lindfield, Peter Murphy, Craig Liddle, Kevin McIntyre, Luke Joyce, Charlie Barnett, Jamie Devitt (Will Hatfield 81), Ryan Hopper (Micah Evans 66), Bobby Grant, Padraig Amond (Ian Craney 46). Subs not used: Lee Nicholls, Kurtis Guthrie.