Steve Harris – @steveharris84
Match details: Torquay United V Ebbsfleet Utd – National League
Date: Saturday 25th January 2020
Previous NL form (last six):
Torquay United: L – L – W – L – D – W
Ebbsfleet United: D – D – L – D – L – L
Last time the two teams met: National League, Ebbsfleet Utd 2-4 Torquay United – 8th October 2019
By making it three wins on the bounce to move up to sixth in the National League table, with an away win over Ebbsfleet United, United took their league points haul under Gary Johnson to over 100.
Jake Andrews opened the scoring for the Gulls with his fourth goal of the season in the eighth minute, before Jamie Reid added a second to score his 10th of the campaign – equalling his combined goal scoring hauls for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons – on 24 minutes.
Josh Umerah then reduced Fleet’s deficit when he turned home a cross from Alex Reid in the 35th minute. However, United’s two-goal cushion was restored in the 47th minute when Matt Buse followed up his first goal for the club against AFC Fylde with his second in as many games, after Andrews’ initial effort was parried by Ebbsfleet keeper Jordan Holmes.
Liam Davis then added a fourth on 54 minutes – with what was only his second goal for the club – after playing a one-two with Frank Vincent. Umerah then completed his own brace as he headed home a Myles Weston cross to pull one back for Fleet. Frank Vincent then appeared to have added a fifth for the Gulls on 87 minutes, which hit the bar and bounced down; however, with no VAR in the National League the ball was adjudged not to have crossed the line – thus denying Vincent his first goal for United. Nevertheless the Gulls claimed the three points which increased the number of league points won since Johnson’s appointment as successor to Gary Owers in September 2018 to 101.
Manager: Kevin Watson
After coming through the youth ranks with Tottenham Hotspur, Kevin Watson made a handful of appearances for Spurs before leaving White Hart Lane in search of regular first team football.
He then went on to make his name in the lower leagues with a number of different clubs including Swindon Town, Rotherham United, Reading and Colchester United. During the course of his career, Watson won four promotions: two with Rotherham and one each with Reading and Colchester.
Watson then embarked on his coaching career with Luton Town in the 2008-09 season, which was followed by spells as manager of Maldon and Tiptree and Bishops Stortford. He became first team coach of Ebbsfleet United in October 2019, before succeeding Garry Hill a month later following a successful spell as caretaker manager.
One to watch: Gozie Ugwu
One player in the Ebbsfleet side who will no doubt be familiar to Gulls boss Gary Johnson is Gozie Ugwu, who is currently Fleet’s top scorer with ten goals. Ugwu, who started his career with Reading, played under Johnson on loan at Yeovil Town in the 2012-13 season and he later re-signed him midway through the 2014-15 season following his release by Scottish side Dunfermline Athletic. Ugwu is currently in his third spell with Ebbsfleet having previously played on loan with the Fleet in the 2011-12 and 2018-19 seasons before joining the club on a permanent basis in the summer of 2019.
Classic Encounter: FA Trophy Final, Ebbsfleet Utd 1 Torquay United 0 – 10th May 2008
While the 2008 FA Trophy final turned out to be a slightly disappointing end to a bittersweet season for the Gulls, it also proved to be the end of an era for the club.
The match itself was decided by a solitary effort from former United forward Chris McPhee when he tapped home a cross from John Akinde on the stroke of half-time – after earlier seeing a penalty saved by Martin Rice. However, the match will arguably be better remembered for being the final appearance in a Torquay United shirt made by club record appearance holder Kevin Hill.
‘Hilly’ entered the pitch as a replacement for Tim Sills in the 88th minute, which saw him overhaul Dennis Lewis’ long standing record. He had previously equalled Lewis’s record in United’s 4-1 Conference play-off semi-final defeat against Exeter City, in which he scored the Gulls’ only goal.
The following summer saw him join Dorchester Town, which brought the curtain down on his 11-year stay at Plainmoor.
Robbie Cundy – Gary Warren – Kyle Cameron
Joe Lewis – Armani Little – Connor Evans – Asa Hall – Jackson Longridge
Lawrie Wilson – Ayo Obileye – Marvel Ekpiteta – Jamie Grimes
Alfie Egan – Frankie Sutherland – Adam Mekki
Jermaine McGlashan – Gozie Ugwu – Josh Umerah