The face numbers of simplicial complexes without missing faces of dimension larger than$i$are studied. It is shown that among all such ($d$−1)-dimensional complexes with non-vanishing top homology, a certain polytopal sphere has the componentwise minimal$f$-vector; and moreover, among all such 2-Cohen–Macaulay (2-CM) complexes, the same sphere has the componentwise minimal$h$-vector. It is also verified that the$l$-skeleton of a flag ($d$−1)-dimensional 2-CM complex is 2($d$−$l$)-CM, while the$l$-skeleton of a flag piecewise linear ($d$−1)-sphere is 2($d$−$l$)-homotopy CM. In addition, tight lower bounds on the face numbers of 2-CM balanced complexes in terms of their dimension and the number of vertices are established.