Harrogate'S spas were reputed to have mystical qualities but, last night, the town's footballers were unable to produce the moment of magic that would have taken them into the second round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history.

Former Sunderland goalkeeper Andy Marriott scored the decisive penalty as Torquay won a heart-stopping penalty shoot-out at the end of a pulsating encounter that had looked like going the home side's way.

Harrogate's players gave their all during 120 goalless minutes but, ultimately, Leigh Wood's missed spot-kick proved crucial and cost the part-timers a second-round game with Notts County.

Harrogate chairman Bill Fotherby had described last night's game as the "biggest" his club had ever played - if nothing else, it is likely to have been one of the longest.

The North Yorkshire side had almost won the tie at the first time of asking - leading for more than an hour before Ian Stonebridge's late equaliser earned Torquay a replay - and, despite a gap of some 27 places between the two teams, it was the hosts who again looked the more composed.

With former York player-manager Chris Brass impressing at the heart of a five-man defence, the Nationwide Conference North side dominated the early exchanges with a mixture of committed defending and surprisingly composed attacking play.

Indeed, rather than Harrogate's part-timers being star-struck, it was Torquay's professionals who appeared hesitant in front of a capacity Wetherby Road crowd.

Former Hartlepool defender James Sharp came close to heading Danny Holland's cross into his own net and, with the visitors struggling to settle, Harrogate's Marc Smith almost profited from another mistake.

Craig Woodman's backpass was woefully under-hit but, after Smith seized on the error, the back-pedalling Steve Woods slid in to divert his goalbound effort to safety.

With Roy Hunter also firing over from 30 yards, keeper Marriott spent most of the first half under siege.

His left-winger Woodman spent most of it under a tree - the vegetation that framed the playing surface underlined Town's lowly status - but, as the game wore on, Torquay's physical advantage gradually began to tell.

Brass and fellow centre-half Leigh Wood were forced to clear a succession of corners as the home side dropped deeper into their own half and the lively Tony Bedeau came close to steering Anthony Lloyd's cross past Michael Price at the back post.

Price was called into action ten minutes after the re-start - clutching Matthew Hockley's drive under pressure in his own six-yard box - and the Harrogate goalkeeper produced another smart save 18 minutes from time to turn Kevin Hill's rasping half-volley over the crossbar.

That save was impressive, but it was nothing compared to the sprawling stop that kept Harrogate's hopes alive in the first minute of stoppage time. Stonebridge curled a delicate free-kick around the wall from 22 yards, but the former Darlington stopper flung himself to his right to turn the ball around the post.

Harrogate (5-3-2): Price, Heard, Wood, Brass, Elleker, Mason, Philpott (Lennon 111mins), Grant, Hunter, Smith, Holland.

Torquay (3-5-2): Marriott, Woods, Taylor, Sharp, Lloyd, Hill, Hockley, Garner (Coleman 99mins), Woodman, Bedeau, Stonebridge.

Referee: Clive Oliver (Ashington)