Steve Harris – @steveharris84
Match details: Torquay United V Yeovil Town – National League
Date: Wednesday 1st January 2020
Recent form National League (last 6):
Torquay United: L – L – L – L – L – W
Yeovil Town: D – W – W – D – W – L
Last time the two teams met: National League, Yeovil Town 6 Torquay United 2 – 26th December 19
Courtney Duffus scored a hat-trick as Yeovil beat Torquay to move level on points with National League leaders Barrow.
The hosts made a lightning-quick start, opening the scoring after three minutes when Myles Hippolyte grabbed his fifth goal of the season. Albi Skendi headed Yeovil into a two-goal lead four minutes later before Duffus made it 3-0 in the 15th minute.
Asa Hall pulled a goal back for Torquay in the 29th minute on his return to the Gulls’ starting line-up, but Duffus made it 4-1 before substitute Chris Dagnall got Yeovil’s fifth in the 72nd minute.
Duffus then bundled in his third three minutes, before the end before Ben Whitfield got a second for Torquay in added time, which proved to be a mere consolation.
Manager: Darren Sarll
After enjoying a nomadic career as a central midfielder in non-league football in the South-East, it was as a coach that Darren Sarll would really make his mark in the game.
Sarll began his coaching career with Stevenage in the 2006-07 season, before moving on to Brentford as youth team manager on the eve of the 2008-09 campaign. During the course of that season, following Andy Scott’s appointment as first team manager, Sarll worked with Scott as first team coach and also managed the Bees’ reserve side.
In the 2011-12 season, he followed Scott to Rotherham United where he was employed as Head of Player Development before returning to Stevenage as Head of Youth and then working as first team coach under Teddy Sheringham. In the wake of Sheringham’s dismissal in February 2016, Sarll was appointed as caretaker manager before being appointed as manager on a full-time basis.
He left Stevenage in 2018 and briefly worked as a youth team coach at Watford, before he was appointed the Yeovil Town manager as the permanent successor to Darren Way in the summer of 2019.
One to watch: Rhys Murphy
Once again Rhys Murphy is in direct competition in the leading goal scorer charts with Jamie Reid. Last season it was for Chelmsford City in National League South, this time it’s in the green and white of Yeovil Town in the National League.
Murphy, who joined the Gulls on loan from Forest Green Rovers in the 2017-18 season, started his career with Arsenal and was loaned out to Brentford and Preston North End. He also represented England at youth level before switching his allegiance to the Republic of Ireland, who he appeared for at Under-21 level.
Following a stint in Holland playing for Telstar in the 2012-13, Murphy returned to England to sign for Dagenham and Redbridge. He then moved on to Oldham Athletic in 2015 when Lee Johnson, son of Gulls manager Gary, paid the Daggers an undisclosed fee for his services.
Loan spells at AFC Wimbledon and Crawley Town then followed before he joined Forest Green Rovers and he was later loaned to York City, Crawley (again) and also spent an eight-match loan spell with the Gulls where he scored only once in a 4-0 win over Maidenhead United.
His next port of call was Gillingham prior to signing for Chelmsford, where his 28 goals in National League South alerted the Glovers to his potential.
Classic encounter: FA Cup 1st Round, Torquay United 4 Yeovil Town 1 – 11th November 2007
Paul Buckle’s first season as Torquay United manager coincided with the Gulls’ first campaign as a Conference side.
He set about building a competitive squad that it was hoped would challenge for promotion back to the Football League at the first attempt. His new signings gelled quickly and the Gulls soon found themselves among the league’s front-runners. They also enjoyed a good run in the FA Cup and drew Yeovil Town in the first round, after beating Bath City in the fourth qualifying stage.
United had faced the Glovers three times before in the competition, in the 1984-85, 1988-89 & 1992-93 campaigns respectively. In the former two meetings, the Gulls had emerged victorious, whilst in the latter encounter in the 1992-93 season Yeovil had won 5-2.
The match was also chosen to be televised live on BBC1. It was the first time that a match involving the Gulls had been broadcast nationally on terrestrial TV.
In the first half, Torquay piled a huge amount of pressure on their League One opponents – winning five corners in the opening ten minutes.
The pick of United’s early chances fell to Chris Zebroski, who had a 20-yard volley blocked by Glovers’ keeper Steve Mildenhall, and right-back Chris Robertson – whose headed effort from a Kevin Nicholson corner was deflected behind.
Nevertheless, it was against the run of play that Yeovil took the lead after 20 minutes when veteran striker Marcus Stewart slotted home after Gulls’ keeper Martin Rice had parried a header from Scott Guyett into his path. It was 35-year old Stewart’s 239th career goal.
However, the Gulls were able to turn the tide – thanks to a double strike late in the first half.
On 43 minutes, Chris Todd headed home a Kevin Nicholson corner and two minutes later Danny Stevens poked home after Chris Zebroski had a shot blocked by Glovers’ skipper Terry Skiverton, following a goal mouth scramble – giving United a crucial advantage going into the half-time break.
Midway through the second half, the Gulls doubled their advantage as the Yeovil defence failed to clear a free-kick from Nicholson. Tim Sills then challenged for the ball at the far post before it fell invitingly to Lee Mansell, who unleashed an 18-yard shot that was turned in by Todd, who completed his brace for the afternoon from close range, on 64 minutes.
With one minute of normal time remaining, the game was finally ended as a contest when substitute Kevin Hill – within one minute of replacing Elliot Benyon – flicked the ball into the path of Stevens, who raced clear and slotted the ball past Mildenhall to score a double of his own.
Joe Lewis – Robbie Cundy – Jean Niate- Kyle Cameron
Aaron Nemane – Connor Lemonheigh–Evans – Asa Hall – Ben Whitfield
Ruairi Keating – Jamie Reid
Remeao Hutton – Luke Wilkinson – Gabriel Osho – Carl Dickinson
Lawson D’Ath – Albi Skendi – Myles Hippolyte
Courtney Duffus – Rhys Murphy