Matchday Preview: Torquay United (home)

Torquay United manager Gary Johnson is reading too much in to his side’s midweek defeat at Eastleigh as he goes in search of a quickfire double over his old employers.

Just 48 hours after a blood-and-thunder win over Yeovil on Boxing Day, the Gulls went down to a 2-1 defeat in Hampshire with former Glovers’ midfielder Tom Whelan among the scorers for Eastleigh.

Their opponents that day did not play on Boxing Day due to the same COVID-19 issues in the W*ymouth camp which meant the derby planned for Yeovil on Wednesday also didn’t go ahead.

Speaking ahead of the trip to Huish Park, Johnson said: “We had quite a few chances against Eastleigh in the first half. The boys looked strong and sharp still, leading on from the Yeovil game that was only two days earlier.

“But, it has to be said that we faded towards the end, and Eastleigh still had their legs towards the end, and unfortunately we couldn’t hold out, due to a couple of mistakes.

One of the ‘mistakes’ he was referring to came from goalkeeper Shaun MacDonald (no, not that one) who was at fault for the winner scored by Eastleigh’s Tyrone Barnett, with the other levelled at the referee for awarding a penalty which Whelan slotted away.

The other big blow inflicted five days ago was a yellow card for top-scorer Armani Little which takes him up to five for the season, meaning he will sit out the match at Huish Park.

As we are aware, the same totting up exercise denies Yeovil of full-back Dan Moss while goalkeeper Grant Smith misses out for the next two for a more immediate issues.

Boxing Day followed a similar pattern to 2020 when Torquay handed out a drubbing in Devon – that time it was a 6-1 victory for the home side – and Darren Sarll will be hoping history can repeat itself on Sunday.

Obviously, the first fixture of 2021 saw late goals from Josh Neufville and Luke Wilkinson earn the Glovers a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture in Somerset.


FROM THE MANAGER

Speaking to the Torquay official website before the match, Gulls’ boss Gary Johnson warned his side against complacency after last season, he said:

“It’s not anything we don’t know, and even last year we were ready for it, but didn’t cope with it. We’ll see whether we’ve learned from it, and see whether we can go from a win to a loss.

“At least we’ve more time to recover than we had at Eastleigh, with Eastleigh having a week off, and not playing before we played them.

“Now we go to Yeovil, and Yeovil haven’t had a game when we play them, but we definitely are more ready for this one to last for 90 minutes, because we’ve had longer to recover.”

 


TEAM NEWS

As mentioned earlier, the biggest loss for the visitors is top-scorer Armani Little who misses the trip to Somerset having picked up his fifth yellow card of the season.

Defender Joe Lewis, whose late headed goal sealed a miserable Boxing Day for the Glovers at Plainmoor, is the other visiting player who is walking a disciplinary tight-rope with four bookings.

On-loan Sinclair Armstrong missed the last two games having tested positive for COVID-19 and seems likely to return, as does defender Joe Felix, who joined on loan from National League South bottom club Billericay Town before the festive period, only to be forced in to self-isolation by his own diagnosis.

Shaun MacDonald (again, not that one!) seems likely to remain in goal for Johnson’s mean despite an error costing his side a goal against Eastleigh, and 37-year-old centre forward Danny Wright seems likely to continue in the attack having started the last three matches.

 


FOOT IN BOTH CAMPS

The obvious connection between the two sides is Torquay boss Gary Johnson, but he needs no introduction to Yeovil fans.

Glovers’ top-scorer Joe Quigley, who will not feature on Boxing Day having only just returned to training, spent a two-month loan spell at Torquay whilst an AFC Bournemouth player.

But more likely to feature is another visiting forward Reuben Reid who spent seven games on loan at Plainmoor in 2007 on loan from Plymouth, scoring twice.

There are also two members of the Torquay squad with a foot in both camps. One is goalkeeper Marcin Brzozowsi, out at National League South side Gloucester City presently, who played twice in a half-a-season loan at Huish Park in 2019, whilst naming the other would be a violation of Gloverscast Rule 5 – but he’s out on loan at Truro City. See Team News for a clue on that one.

Striker Martin Gritton is a legend in yellow having scored 22 times in 88 appearances between 2002 and 2004 but is less so at Huish Park where he failed to find the mark in two loan spells in 2001 and another a decade later.

He’s actually a commentator on BBC Radio Devon these days, so you can listen to him if you want to tune in to them – we’d recommend BBC Somerset though.

Others with a foot in both camps (and there’s undoubtedly more) include:

  • Rhys Murphy – Torquay 2017, Yeovil 2019-2021
  • Ben Whitfield – Yeovil 2016-17, Torquay 2019-2021.
  • Jakub Sokolik – Yeovil 2014-2016, Torquay 2018.
  • Ryan Dickson – Torquay – 2007, 2018-2020, Yeovil 2012, 2015-2018.
  • Alex Lawless – Torquay 2005-2006, Yeovil 2016-2017.
  • Jamie Gosling – Yeovil 2003-04, Torquay 2004-05.
  • Jimmy Aggrey – Torquay 1998-2001, Yeovil 2002-2003.
  • Ryan Northmore – Torquay – 1998-2002, Yeovil 2004.
  • Steve Winter – Torquay 1995-1997, Yeovil 1997.

 

There are no tickets on sale on the day, BBC Somerset and Three Valley Radio both have coverage… and we’ll do everything we can to give you a post match breakdown here as well later on January 2 too.


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