TT MATCH PREVIEW
Steve Harris – @SteveHarris84
Match details: Torquay United versus Hartlepool United
Venue: Plainmoor, Torquay
Date: Saturday 6th March 2021
Current form (last six all competitions):
Torquay United: L, W, D, L, W, L
Hartlepool United: W, L, W, D, W, D
Torquay: Asa Hall 10
Hartlepool: Luke Armstrong 9
Head to Head:
Last time the two teams met: Hartlepool United 0-5 Torquay United, 31st October 2020.
Inspired by a perfect hat-trick from Danny Wright, Torquay United moved five points clear at the top of the National League as they produced a five-star display to defeat Hartlepool. The forward took his goal tally to five in two games as the Gulls claimed a fifth consecutive victory, condemning Pools to their first loss of the season – and their first home loss to United since March 1989.
Wright struck twice for the Gulls inside 14 minutes before a defensive error from the hosts allowed Ben Whitfield to score a third for the visitors with a quality strike. In the 57th minute, a back heel from Connor Lemonheigh-Evans enabled Whitfield to produce a cross that picked out Wright, who nodded home to complete his treble. Three minutes from time, substitute Gary Warren tapped home to seal an emphatic win for United.
Manager: Dave Challinor
Dave Challinor was appointed as the new First Team Manager of Hartlepool United in November 2019, succeeding Craig Hignett in the dugout at Victoria Park.
He arrived at Hartlepool on the back of a long and hugely successful spell as boss at AFC Fylde, during which he oversaw The Coasters’ impressive elevation through the footballing pyramid, which saw him take them from the Northern Premier League Division One North to the National League.
Challinor began his playing days with Tranmere Rovers where he came through the ranks to develop in to a hugely popular centre-back at Prenton Park. While with Tranmere he caught the eye due to his enormous throw-in – in 1998 he claimed the World Record for the longest thrown when he hurled a ball 46.34 metres to beat the record held by Andy Legg. Challinor enjoyed success with Tranmere, playing for them in the 2000 League Cup Final, before Stockport County stumped up a fee of £120,000 to take him to Edgeley Park in January 2002.
After a couple of seasons with the Hatters he was allowed to join Bury on loan in January 2004 and he made that move to Gigg Lane a permanent one in the summer which followed. He was installed as club captain at Bury and spent four years there before a knee injury forced him to retire from professional football at the end of the 2007-08 campaign.
Challinor was able to play part-time and became skipper of Colwyn Bay with whom he reached the play-offs two seasons in succession and secured promotion in 2010, after which he was appointed as player-manager of the club.
His first season as manager saw The Bay finish runners-up in the Northern Premier League Premier Division and they triumphed in the play-offs to be promoted to National League North.
It was in November 2011 that Challinor was tempted away to join AFC Fylde as boss and his magic touch continued as they were promoted from Northern Premier League Division One North as champions in his season in charge.
The Coasters made it to the play-offs in the season under his watch, while also making it through to the First Round Proper of the FA Cup.
They went one better in the 2013-14 campaign when Fylde won the play-offs to take their place in National League North. In 2016-17 there was more joy for Challinor and the Fylde supporters as they clinched another promotion as Champions of National League North and he led the club in to the fifth tier for the first time in their history.
He then led them a third place finish in the National League in the 2017-18 season, only to fall in the play-offs. In the following 2018-19 season, he led the Coasters to Wembley twice where they won the FA Trophy and lost to Salford City in the National League play-off final.
One to watch: Luke Armstrong
The son of former Stockport County, Middlesbrough and Ipswich Town striker Alun Armstrong, Luke Armstrong is currently enjoying a successful loan spell with Hartlepool from Salford City. After starting out as a youth team player with Middlesbrough and later Birmingham City, Armstrong made his name with Blyth Spartans, where his form in the 2016-17 season helped to earn him a return to the Riverside Stadium in the summer of 2017. Loan spells with Gateshead and Accrington Stanley followed before he signed for Salford City in 2019. He joined the Pools on loan in December 2020 and he is currently their top scorer with nine goals to his name.
Ben Wynter – Sam Sherring – Joe Lewis – Jake Andrews
Matt Buse – Adam Randell – Asa Hall – Ben Whitfield
Lewis Cass – Gary Liddle – Timi Odusina
James Sterry – Gavan Holohan – Nicky Featherstone – Mark Shelton – David Ferguson
Luke Armstrong – Luke Molyneux