Steve Harris – @steveharris84
Match details: Torquay United vs Notts County
Venue: Plainmoor, Torquay
Date: Saturday 12th May 2021
Current form (all competitions):
Torquay United: W, W, D, D, D, D
Notts County: W, D, W, W, L, W
Torquay: Asa Hall 13
Notts County: Kyle Wootton 15
Head to Head:
Notts County: 20
Last time the two teams met: Saturday April 24, 2021 – Torquay United 2 Notts County 2
Torquay United kept the pressure on title rivals Hartlepool United and Sutton United after they came from behind to secure a valuable point against Notts County – despite being reduced to ten men.
After trailing by two goals, United pulled one back through Connor Lemonheigh-Evans before they found themselves a man down after sub Josh Umerah received his marching orders for a second bookable offence, only 20 minutes after coming on. It was then left to Ben Wynter to score a last gasp equaliser in injury time and earn the Gulls a share of the spoils.
The pick of the early chances fell to United in the 18th minute when Adam Randell cut inside onto his left foot before picking out Scott Boden with a cross that the Chesterfield loanee nodded wide.
In the 26th minute, Notts were twice denied an opener. Firstly, Jimmy Knowles headed a cross from Dion Kelly-Evans against the bar before leading scorer Kyle Wootton pounced on the rebound – but he saw his effort saved by Gulls’ keeper Lucas Covolan.
The Magpies edged ahead on 38 minutes after Jim O’Brien kept the ball in play before teeing up Kelly-Evans to open his account for the club with a low strike from 18-yards.
Four minutes after the break, former United defender Mark Ellis slotted home to double the visitors’ lead after Connell Rawlinson nodded down a cross from Jake Reeves.
The Gulls reduced their arrears on 75 minutes when a cross from sub Billy Waters found Lemonheigh-Evans who arrived at the far post to volley home. But with two minutes to go, United were reduced to ten men when sub Josh Umerah was dismissed after receiving a second yellow card for a challenge on Ellis.
However, despite their numerical disadvantage, the Gulls showed a never-say-die attitude to score a last gasp leveller. In the eighth minute of injury time, Joe Lewis flicked on a long throw from Dean Moxey and Wynter turned the ball home to secure a valuable point for United.
Manager: Ian Burchnall
After spending the bulk of his coaching and managerial career in Scandinavia, with Sarpsborg 08 and Viking in Norway and Ostersund in Sweden, Ian Burchnall was appointed Notts County manager on March 25, 2021 as successor to Neal Ardley. While at Sarpsborg 08 he was assistant manager to former Sheffield United, Leeds United, Benfica and Middlesbrough striker Brian Deane.
Burchnall then went on to manage Norwegian side Viking before succeeding Brighton and Hove Albion manager Graham Potter as manager of Swedish Ostersund. In the 2018 Allsvenskan season he led Ostersund to a sixth place finish with 49 points – one place below their highest ever league finish and one point below their record points haul set during Potter’s reign.
In his first season in charge at Meadow Lane, Burchnall has guided the Magpies to the National League Play-offs for the second year in a row.
One to watch: Mark Ellis
A player who needs no introduction to Gulls’ fans, Kingsbridge-born Mark Ellis first arrived on loan at Plainmoor during the 2007-08 season on loan from Bolton Wanderers. He then made the move permanent in the 2008-09 campaign and then went on to established himself as a first team regular after United won promotion back into the Football League in 2009.
Ellis left Plainmoor to join Crewe Alexandra for a fee of £80,000 – after making 89 league appearances and scoring eight goals. He has since spent the bulk of his career in the North West, with spells with Shrewsbury Town, Carlisle United and Tranmere Rovers, along with loan spells at Forest Green Rovers and Leyton Orient, before he joined the Magpies in a loan deal until the end of the 2020-21 campaign.
He also scored the winning goal in the Magpies’ Play-off 3-2 Play-off eliminator against Chesterfield.