What’s been the key to our promotion push this season? It’s been a real team effort I’d say, you can see that by how the goals have been spread around the squad, and how players have stepped up when necessary to do their bit to keep the Gulls on track. One thing better squads usually have, indeed better TUFC squads, is a great balance between experience and youthful exuberance. Our last play-off winners in 2009 were reinforced by the knowhow of the likes of Chris Hargreaves, Tim Sills and Kevin Nicholson, but also had a sprinkling of Benyon and Stevens. Meanwhile 2004 had the likes of Alex Russell and Craig Taylor, whilst talented young lads like Jo Kuffour and Liam Rosenior provided the energy. In 2021 it’s Asa Hall, Dean Moxey and Danny Wright who are the wise owls. And the youth? That’s takes me onto the brilliant Adam Randell and Sam Sherring.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Adam Randell has been a revelation this year at Torquay. There is always a sense of expectation when a young lad signs on loan from a League club. An expectation that they’ll have the talent and motivation to prove themselves at Torquay United. Safe to say Randell and Sherring have done that in spades.
Adam was a late loan from Plymouth just before the season start, a very smart bit of business by Gary Johnson as the squad looked a little light approaching the big kick off versus Stockport County. With speculation that we could have someone special on our hands, the cries quickly went up to introduce the midfielder into a game which County had dominated. Ten minutes from time Randell, Hall and Britton came on for Buse, Andrews and Umerah, and the game changed. The Plymouth lad soon got involved, and the energy of the subs made all the difference – Connor finding the winner to get us the first and most poignant GJ fist pump of 2020-21.
But it would be the 3rd game of the season where Adam would properly introduce himself. Bromley (A) has never been a prosperous hunting ground for us and after a first half Webster goal for the hosts, we were all beginning to think another loss was on the cards. But the Gulls were determined and with Randell and CLE getting a real foothold in midfield we started to dominate possession. Just after the hour Randell found space central outside the box, took aim and fired a shot past a desperate goalkeeper. Take a bow son! A late penalty from Danny Wright sealed the three points, but it was our new midfield diamond who took the plaudits.
Since then Adam has been a constant in the Torquay United side, at first in midfield but then covering at right winger and making the spot his own. Intelligent players can play anywhere on the park and the young lad is just that. He knows where to be around the pitch, how to find space and has the composure the get on the ball and make things happen. Such composure that it’s easy to forget he’s only 20 years-old. Right foot, left foot, the chap can produce quality and with Whitfield and Nemane both out injured, we’ve been lucky how adaptable the midfielder is.
His finest game? No hesitation on that answer, Aldershot at home. That night he was simply outstanding. United were all over the Shots for much of the evening, but without Danny Wright to finish off chances it seemed like it would be one of those nights. But with the game at 1-1 Randell took proceedings by the scruff of the neck, taking charge and doing everything he could to make something to happen. We all know what happened next, but I’ll reminisce anyway! With ‘Gary Time’ ticking away and the ball out on the right flank, Adam curled in the most sumptuous of in-swinging crosses for Scott Boden to flick into the corner of the net. What scenes, carpet burns up and down the country for Yellow Army knee slides – a special moment.
Last Saturday it was frustrating how much time Adam spent initially in his own half defending, but defend he did – tracking men and getting his foot in, whatever has been asked of him, the lad delivers. But we all know he’s best on the attack, and minutes into the second half he proved it. Scampering past one tackle, he found space down the wing and United were in business. Could he pick out the right pass at the right time? You better believe it. Danny Wright did not have to break stride, a pass perfect for him to swing a right foot at and put United ahead. Fantastic.
If Sunday is to be Adam’s last game in a Gulls shirt then so be it, we’ve been fortunate to enjoy a youngster with his excellent ability and temperament. Potentially he can go very far in the game, and I’m sure we’ll all keep track of his progress at Argyle. Meanwhile one more game awaits. The only criticism of the chap this season would be a lack of goals, maybe he can put that right against Hartlepool – that would be the perfect way to finish.
TT PROFILE – ADAM RANDELL
POSITION – Midfield/Winger
DATE OF BIRTH – 1st October 2000 – 20 years-old
HEIGHT – 1.75m
PREVIOUS CLUBS – Plymouth Argyle
NL STATS 20-21 – League: Played 42, Goals 2, Bookings 4, Red Cards 1
Play-Offs: Played 1, Goals 0
It’s a sign of Sam Sherring’s brilliance this year that when he was voted into the Vanarama National League team of the season, no-one blinked an eyelid. It’s a fully deserved achievement for the centre back, who along with Randell and Britton signed up to bolster Gary Johnson’s squad last October, and slotted into the team like he’d been there for years!
The partnership with Kyle Cameron soon clicked into gear against Stockport County and it needed to, as the Hatters kept banging on the door and the defence stubbornly refused to buckle. Sherring playing to the left of a back three and put in a composed performance that belied his age and lack of experience at National League level – the signs were very good.
Much like Randell he had wedged his way into the first XI and would never be replaced, scoring his first goal in the second fixture at Eastleigh and putting in a string of consistent performances as the Gulls soared to the top of the table. Sam doesn’t catch attention like many of the team, he’s a low key figure who won’t command the headlines, but time after time he has commanded the defence quietly and efficiently – deflecting away crosses, showing a turn of speed to usher away attackers and staying on his feet rather than dive in Only two bookings all season for a centre back is remarkable considering how difficult the position is these days.
Sam’s highlights? One moment springs to mind. Wrexham in early April looked all the world to be heading for a nil nil draw at the Racecourse Ground, not a bad result against a decent team, but for our title hopes we needed more. Cue a last minute throw into the box from Dean Moxey, and eventually a firm shot into the net from the defender – more Gary Time scenes! It was a finish that Danny would have been proud of.
His best game? He’s been such a steady 7 or 8 out of 10 that’s a difficult one. Two games stick out to me. Sutton (A) looked like it would be a very difficult test for him and Lewis at the back, the Us having pace and strength that was too much for most teams. But that evening the whole team was amazing, with the defence pushing up and crunching space. Even when the Us did get a glimpse of the goal Sherring and Lewis banged the door shut like a couple of experienced pros. Accomplished stuff. Meanwhile versus Bromley (H), top NL goal-scorer Michael Cheek barely got a kick as SS bossed him from the first minute to the last in testing (crap) conditions.
Like Adam this could be Sherring’s last game in a Gulls shirt on Sunday, and he’ll be buzzing to finish the season on the ultimate high. Unlike Randell I have an inkling that the defender may return to Plainmoor for 21-22, and I’m sure Gary Johnson has already put the feelers out to get a deal sorted! He’s not going to play first team football at AFC Bournemouth yet and is clearly enjoying life down in the bay under a tremendous boss – so I would hope that Sam is keen. But whatever the outcome, it’s been massive season from a defender who exceeded all expectations at United.