It’s a sign of how far Sutton United have come in recent season’s that supporters left the Knights Community Stadium bitterly disappointed by the performance of the Vanarama National League high-fliers in a 1-0 defeat to Torquay United on Tuesday night.

If the U’s thought their visitors from Devon would be sluggish after completing the first leg of a 400-mile round journey then they were in for a rude awakening.

A header from Ruairi Keating in the 10th minute was enough to condemn an out-of-sorts Sutton to their first league loss in 10 games.

It was only in the latter stages of the game that Sutton looked as if they might grab an equaliser.

Tom Bolarinwa and substitute Ross Stearn — making a welcome return to Sutton colours after a year with Eastleigh — looked like they might conjure an opening from the wings but it just wasn’t to be.

The result lifted the Devon side off the foot of the table while United are fourth, three points off the top.

Torquay came to town hot on the heels of Saturday’s bruising encounter with Halifax Town which may have been a contributing factor for Sutton’s rather tepid display.

Two goals from Ross Lafayette and another from Craig Dundas earned United a 3-2 victory but the West Yorkshire side left their mark on the U’s with young striker Tommy Wright suffering a blow to the head ruling him out of Tuesday’s clash.

Wright has made some telling contributions this season, just when the U’s really needed it.

In his first season at National League level, the energetic 20-year-old has proven a real handful for defences.

Wright has found the net against Macclesfield, Chester, Maidstone, Dover and Hartlepool and he would have fancied his chances of adding Torquay to that impressive list.

His absence from Tuesday’s match came as a disappointment to Sutton manager Paul Doswell who was also quick to give credit to Torquay.

“Tommy suffered a concussion late in the Halifax game. I think everyone saw the elbow. ” he said.

“Saturday took quite a lot out us physically and perhaps we suffered a bit from that tonight.

“We were also without Dean Beckwith who pulled out with sickness. But no excuses, I thought Torquay were the better side.

“Jamie Butler [goalkeeper] made two fantastic saves to keep us in it.

“It allowed us to build lots and lots of pressure without us really creating that golden chance to find the equaliser.

“But Torquay came with a game plan. They were well organised, as we knew they would be, and we have to give them credit.

“It’s a long, long season. That was our 21st game, that’s nearly half the season. We’re fourth, three points off the top. We’d have snapped anyone’s hand off at that.

“The first thing you do is get to 54 points because at that point you know you’re in this league next year and then you wait to see where you go from there.

“I think this team has been incredible. To go on a two-month unbeaten run in this league is very, very hard.

“This league is tough. You don’t look at who’s top or who’s bottom, you just know that each game is going to be a tough one.”

United travel to Guiseley on Saturday. Kick-off 3pm.