Why should I have expected any different? I have supported Torquay United for over 30 years and almost every season is an unpredictable story of drama, of tragedy, glory and comedy all rolled into 10 months of chaos. This one is no different. I asked for an earlier winner than 98 minutes, end result 97 minutes. Cheers GJ! What a bloody moment that goal from Scott Boden was though. The three points had seemingly slipped away, even for these chaps it appeared to be 1 point only and a somewhat disappointing evening.
Adam Randell had other ideas. Boy was the young lad from Argyle magnificent on Tuesday night, prompting us all round the field and taking the game to Aldershot at every possible opportunity. The cross he put in was a strikers dream. All pace, zip and just a touch required. Huge credit to Scott Boden, he was in the right place to direct it in and send us into raptures. It was a knee-sliding across the carpet sort of moment, not pre-empted one little bit – spontaneous celebrations that only joyous goals like that can conjure up. Absolutely buzzing! Hardly worth me asking for calm is there, Torquay United means chaos. It’s in our DNA.
Where do we go from here you ask? Well haven’t you read the title of this blog? It’s Eastleigh at home on Saturday afternoon! The next fixture in a Conference title race that is becoming more and more epic by the week. We certainly owe ‘the Spitfires’ one. Since dropping down to the Conference under Chris Hargreaves in 2014, we’ve only beaten them twice in 11 league games, with both those victories coming in that first season and only one draw to speak of on Boxing Day 2017.
When Torquay beat Eastleigh on 29th November 2014, it looked like our promotion challenge could be back on. Unfortunately that was never the case as the side stuttered and whimpered it’s way down the table. Watching YouTube clips, the Yellow Army certainly relished the win going by the noise at Plainmoor. Toby Ajala, in his first spell when he still had fire in his belly, scored a lovely goal. Cutting in from the left and finishing in the corner, it was a reminder of what he could do – a shame his career tailed off soon after. The second saw a bustling run from Louis Briscoe (could he run any other way!), a firm shot palmed away and future Grecian Ryan Bowman on hand to tuck it in. Six and a half years later, it’s perhaps time to do it again.
A double over Eastleigh followed, but since then we just haven’t been able to turn them over, with Nicho, Owers and GJ teams all meeting their match, especially at the Silverlake Stadium, a ground which is never an easy place to go to. Last season it looked like we’d finally cracked it. Ben Whitfield and Jake Andrews put the Gulls 2-1 up at Plainmoor, before Marcus Barnes levelled matters and then a last-ditch winner from sub Tom Bearwish making it an ultimately miserable evening. Late goals have been our curse so often over the years, maybe ‘Gary-time’ is Yellows karma for so much Gulls heartbreak.
This season Sam Sherring scored his first goal for United at the Silverlake, but then United fell to pieces in the second half, eventually losing 2-1 with two Ben House goals. A very familiar result for the Gulls up in Hampshire as their Indian sign over us continued. But on the plus side we bounced back with an amazing run of form. Defeats don’t have to be bad for teams, just look at our results since Maidenhead (a).
Eastleigh are very dangerous opponents this weekend. Their form has been excellent, beating the likes of Hartlepool, Stockport, Notts County and Sutton in recent weeks, they will be confident of getting a result at Plainmoor, despite our continual last minute heroics. The good news is that the afore-mentioned Ben House is a major doubt after an injury versus Sutton, but upfront there are still threats from veteran Tyrone Barnett and ex-King’s Lynn striker Adam Marriott, who bagged the winner on BT Sports against Sutton (cheers Adam). Meanwhile, between the sticks Joe McDonnell is having a great season with 13 clean sheets, he may take some beating.
TT PLAYER PROFILE – Adam Marriott
Date of Birth: 14th April 1991 – 30 years-old
Former Clubs: Cambridge City, Cambridge United, Bishop’s Stortford, Stevenage, Lincoln City, Royston Town, Boston United, King’s Lynn
National League Stats 20-21: Player 24, Goals 7
This has got ‘close game’ written all over it and cliché alert, the first goal could be massive, mainly due to both teams defensive resilience. United will no doubt push early to take the initiative and the lead. It will be interesting to see if Gary Johnson sticks as far as he can with Tuesday night’s line-up. The Scott Boden/Billy Waters partnership was wasteful in front of goal, but the link-up made for nice viewing apart from that, with the mixture of Billy’s honest endeavour (those Elliot Benyon comparisons won’t go away!) and Scott’s poised experience causing trouble for Sendles-White and his colleagues.
The one change that will almost certainly be necessary is at centre back. Joe Lewis looked bad when he fell down in pain towards the end of the first half and made an honest but wrong decision to try and play on. Just another injury to add to the list for 20-21. Gary Warren did well after coming on (and always sniffs out a goal chance on set pieces), but no disrespect to ‘Dawlish’ I’d love to see Kyle Cameron back in the fold come 3pm Saturday. Another leader to push us forward and give the players a reminder when they need it, I’ll have a bit of that. Fingers crossed the big Geordie is ready to return soon.
Can the Gulls continue to ride a wave of Gary-time madness and take us back to the Football League? It may be riding our luck to keep doing the 90+ minutes hokey cokey, but these guys are wired at the moment. They believe anything can happen in games and guess what…it’s happening (rather enjoyably, rival fans are seething as the goals flash up on their mobiles!). Positive mental attitude is taking this Torquay team forward and they can smell that title in their nostrils. I’ve given up expecting anything comfortable from the Gulls, this is going to be tight, tense and nail-biting – this is the Torquay United we know best after all. What a club. Enjoy the game, all 100ish minutes of it….
COYY – Dom
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