Dom Roman – @DomRoman
“Let’s make Sutton feel our presence this weekend, rattle a few nerve ends and see what happens”
I don’t know about you but Sunday afternoon was a mixture of emotions. Enjoyment of an action packed game of football showcasing the best of the National League; mixed with frustration and disappointment that we couldn’t move within a point of Sutton; mixed with pride and satisfaction at the total effort and commitment that our team had thrown into the game.
In the end if we chuck everything into a match and give it all we’ve got, then I can cope. Too many Torquay United teams over the years have failed to turn up for big occasions, but this isn’t one of them. It was never going to be easy at Edgeley Park, County are a very solid team with some good players. We held our own though throughout, pushing men forward as I hoped we would and counter-punching with enthusiasm and energy. In the second half very good chances came our way and we just weren’t clinical enough when it really counted.
Are we destined for the play-offs? Probably. But there are a few things in our favour this weekend. Sutton playing on the Sunday allows us to close the gap at the top and put pressure on the Us. Keep in mind this club have never played in the Football League, so these fixtures are amongst the biggest in their history. Matt Gray’s players have managed well in recent weeks, but funny things can happen when the finishing line gets closer and there is bound to be some twitching against Hartlepool.
The Monkey Hangers appear to have rediscovered their form after a ropey time and there’s no reason why they can’t win at Gander Green Lane. Meanwhile at Plainmoor we’ll have the crowd back and the Gulls will be desperate to win well against Barnet. Getting that job done is no sure thing though, so before we support Jeff Stelling’s boys, that win has to be earned.
Any discussion of Torquay V Barnet starts and probably ends with the craziness of 2001. A relegation dogfight with some fans locked out and some viewing from trees, a three goal first half lead (Rees, Hill and Graham) reduced to a one goal lead in the second half, but eventually a win in London to avoid the drop. That’s only half the story but there’s no time to go through it all! It’s one of those ‘I was there’ Torquay games that will live in supporters minds forever.
I do have a second choice and that takes us to 9th December 2011. Martin Ling’s team had gathered some momentum together, but this Friday night fixture saw the Gulls struggling to break down Barnet. Eunan O’Kane and Ian Morris had come close, but the game appeared to be slipping towards a 0-0 result. Enter Kevin Nicholson. Nicho had just signed a contract at Plainmoor, and to celebrate he picked up the ball 25 yards out and banged it into the top right hand corner. A 94th minute winner, sounds familiar! A super strike from the left back and a result that helped push United onto a promotion challenge.
The TUFC line-up that night:
TUFC – OLEJNIK, NICHOLSON, OLEJNIK, ELLIS, ROBERTSON, MANSELL, O’KANE, BODIN (MORRIS), STEVENS (ATIENO), LATHROPE, HOWE
Onto 2020-21 and our win towards the end of January at the Hive was about as routine and comfortable as January/February got for the Gulls. The Bees were on a long winless streak and looked nailed on for relegation (when relegation was still a thing). We were 1-0 up very early when Ben Whitfield banged one in on 8 minutes, and although to their credit Barnet huffed and puffed, the result never seemed in doubt, Jake Andrews eventually making the points safe on 82 minutes with a cool finish. At that point United remained 10 points clear….
Nearly four months later and Barnet’s struggles have continued, with only 24 points procured overall, the worst goal difference in the league (-55) and only 31 goals scored in 39 games. This team probably can’t wait for their wretched season to finish. First team coach Simon Bassey was hired in April to take over from Tim Flowers, and although the side has battled in games, the losses have continued to come. Notable players? At the back is experienced full back Lee Vaughan who played for GJ at Cheltenham, whilst Canadian winger Michael Petrasso has done well on loan from Valour FC, scoring 7 goals.
TT PLAYER PROFILE – Lee Vaughan
Position: Right Back
Date of Birth: 17th July 1986 – 34 years-old
Previous Clubs: Walsall, Telford, Kidderminster, Cheltenham, Tranmere, Solihull Moors
National League Stats 20-21: Played 17, Bookings 4
Let’s face it, if we play to anywhere near our best and get in amongst the Bees early, then a comfortable win is ours for the taking. There’s no danger of complacency with the title still in reach, it’s just important we don’t take liberties, play our usual pressing game and then gobble up the chances that come our way. Gary Johnson will have them revved up and with crowd noise back in play it should be a fun afternoon (if it ends up stressful, do not blame me!).
The Stockport game did nothing to dampen my anticipation for returning to Plainmoor. I have missed the old place so much and it’ll hopefully be a special atmosphere this afternoon. It’s about time the lads felt our support first hand, they deserve it for what they’ve put into this strange season and I’m sure it’ll spur them on from the first whistle until last.
I am looking forward to escaping from the sofa and casting off some COVID shackles, catching up with some familiar faces and enjoying proper football banter in person. Time to let loose some emotions, get the adrenaline pumping and with any luck enjoy a handsome victory. Handsome rather than ‘Gary Time’ please, let’s make Sutton feel our presence this weekend, rattle a few nerve ends in South London and see what happens. The best could be yet to come this season. Enjoy the match and see you there.
COYY – Dom
BACK AT PLAINMOOR – THOMAS KELLY
TT MATCH PREVIEW – STEVE HARRIS
Proud Away Sponsor of Kyle Cameron