The Ed looks back at the last 10 opening league fixtures at Plainmoor
Ahh the first game at fortress Plainmoor, the sunshine is out, optimism is high and it’s time to meet up with Football friends you haven’t seen in months – you can’t beat it can you?! With Altrincham (h) merely days away, I check back into our recent past and the previous 10 Plainmoor openers…
6th August 2011 – TUFC 2-2 Burton Albion – League Two
The Team – Olejnik, Nicholson, Oastler, Robertson, Saah, Mansell, O’Kane, Morris (Macklin), Stevens, Kee (Atieno), Howe
Goals – Rene Howe (59), Mansell (81)
Attendance – 3,142
Summary – Martin Ling’s first competitive game as Torquay manager ended in a draw, as second half goals from Rene Howe and Lee Mansell brought the Gulls back from the death after two from Justin Richards had put Albion 2-0 up. This would be a sign of things to come for Lee Mansell, who had his best goal-scoring season in a Gulls shirt and equalised from close range to give us a deserved point. The game was notable for Plainmoor being down to three stands, with the development of Bristow’s Bench under way to replace the old Grandstand.
21st August 2012 – TUFC 2-2 Cheltenham Town – League Two
The Team – Poke, Nicholson, Downes, Saah, Oastler, Morris, Mansell, Lathrope (Easton), Bodin, Howe (Jarvis), Macklin (Cruise)
Goals – Aaron Downes (22), Rene Howe (23)
Attendance – 2,517
Summary – After losing to Cheltenham in the 2011-12 play-off semi final, the Gulls faced Town in a Tuesday nighter searching for some quick revenge. Future Gull Shaun Harrad put the away team ahead, but swift 1st half replies from Aaron Downes and Rene Howe gave United a 2-1 advantage. It looked like the three points were going to stay at Plainmoor, until ex-Gull Chris Zebroski popped up with ten minutes to go to grab a draw and leave Lingy’s men frustrated. United had drawn their first two league games after a 0-0 at Fleetwood three days before.
3rd August 2013 – TUFC 1-1 AFC Wimbledon – League Two
The Team – Rice, Tonge (Thompson), Nicholson, Pearce, Downes, Mansell, Harding, Cameron (Chapell), Bodin, Ball, Benyon (Hawley)
Goals – Aaron Downes (90)
Attendance – 3,441
Summary – By the start of 2013-14 it was Alan Knill’s Torquay United, and with the squad reloaded it was hoped that the team would bounce back into contention. Unfortunately the truth was something very different! The opening game at Plainmoor saw Callum Ball come close with a shot that hit the post, before a Harry Pell hit was deflected past his own goalie by Aaron Downes. Downesy made up for this in the dying minutes by glancing a late equaliser in to salvage a draw.
12th August 2014 – TUFC 3-0 Welling – Conference Premier
The Team – Rice, Cruise, Tonge, MacDonald, Downes, Young, Briscoe (Ajala), Young, Yeoman (Ofori-Acheampong), Cameron, Bowman
Goals – Ryan Bowman (15), Courtney Cameron (43 Pen), Ajala (67)
Attendance – 1,895
Summary – The Gulls were back down to non-league football again, this time with Chris Hargreaves in charge. After an opening day away loss, less than 2k arrived at Plainmoor to see United take on Welling. Ryan Bowman showed what he was all about with a cool finish early to put Hargy’s team 1-0 up. Cameron was fouled for a penalty and stepped up to score our second, before sub Toby Ajala capped off a comfortable victory with a well-taken third. This kick-started a good start to the season from the Gulls…unfortunately it wouldn’t last.
8th August 2015 – TUFC 1-0 Macclesfield Town – National League
The Team – Speiss, Butler, MacDonald, Smith, Geohaghon, Carmichael, Fenwick, Richards, Murombedzi, Quigley (Lavelle-Moore), Fisher (Fairhurst)
Goals – Alex Fisher (61)
Attendance – 2,066
Summary – This was a new dawn for TUFC as Dean Edwards paraded the group of new investors before the game, and United fans hoped their club was ready to move onwards. In reality this was only temporary respite and more struggles lay ahead, but there’s no time to go over all that now! On this sunny day in August, the Gulls, now managed by Paul Cox, plugged away and dug out a 1-0 win with Alex Fisher flicking in a close range winner on the hour. Exodus and Fisher almost doubled the lead, but on the day one goal was enough.
9th August 2016 – TUFC 1-0 Bromley – National League
The Team – Moore, Rowe-Turner, Gerring, McGinty, Verma, Richards, Lathrope (Chaney), Young, Sparkes, Blissett, Williams (Reid)
Goals – Gerring (42)
Attendance – 2,279
Summary – Another new season, and another different manager This time Kevin Nicholson led the way at United after masterminding a memorable great escape a few months earlier. It was big Ben Gerring who took the headlines, powering in a Verma corner before half time to give United a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Blissett and Williams almost doubled the lead in the second half, but in the end Ben’s goal was enough to give the Gulls their first win of the 2016-17 season.
5th August 2017 – TUFC 0-0 Tranmere Rovers – National League
The Team – Clarke, Higgins, McGinty, Gowling, Chaney, Young, Lathrope (Reid), Klukowski, Keating, Gosling (Gray), Pittman (Lee)
Goals – None
Attendance – 3,162
Summary – Promotion favourites travelled down to Plainmoor for the first game of the season and brought plenty of away support with them to make for a cracking atmosphere. The game ended goalless but did not lack controversy, as Rovers had both Steve McNulty and James Norwood sent off in the second half. Despite the numerical advantage, Kevin Nicholson’s team rarely looked liked scoring and it was Tranmere who were more disappointed with only a point at the final whistle.
7th August 2018 – TUFC 1-0 Bath City – National League South
The Team – MacDonald, Davis, Wynter, Sokolik, Niate, Cameron, Dickson, Hall, Regis (Nabi), Reid (Keating), Williams
Goals – Davis (80)
Attendance – 2,151
Summary – After a 0-0 draw for Gary Owers’ United team at Chelmsford, the Gulls gained their first win in regional football with a narrow victory over Bath City. Brett Williams had a great chance early on, but missed it badly, before City responded well and looked the better team as United got decidedly edgy. After Bath had missed some chances, there was an unlikely hero on the night as Liam Davis lashed in a Ruairi Keating cross to make it 1-0 with only 10 minutes left on the clock. That was enough to send the Yellow Army home happy.
3rd August 2019 – TUFC 2-1 Boreham Wood – National League
The Team – MacDonald, Wynter, Niate, Cameron, Vincent, Little, Andrews, Hall, Kalala (Keating), Reid, Duku (Edwards)
Goals – Opi Edwards (61), Reid (63)
Attendance – 3,138
Summary – Plainmoor was in celebratory mood, as Torquay United were back in the National League under Gary Johnson and raring to go. On half an hour a reckless challenge by Wood’s Jamal Fyfield on Manny Duku earned him a red card, and gave the Gulls a man advantage. However, it took until the arrival of sub Opi Edwards for a goal to arrive, the winger slotting home a Jamie Reid cut back after 61 minutes. Two minutes later Reidy scored a 25 yard belter to double the lead, and even though Tyrone Marsh scored a late consolation – the Gulls were back!
3rd October 2020 – TUFC 1-0 Stockport County – National League
The Team – Covolan, Cameron, Wynter, Sherring, CLE, Andrews (Randell), Nemane, Buse (Hall), Whitfield, Umerah (Britton), Wright
Goals – Connor Lemonheigh-Evans (90+1)
Attendance – N/A
Summary – And so we move on to the only fixture I wasn’t at! This was the behind closed doors, TV streams, Dave Thomas commentating and sat on our sofas world that we all had to get used to for 2020-21. This game looked tough on paper, and so it proved as the Hatters dominated much of the early stages. But stout defending from the Gulls kept County at bay, and three late substitutions swung the match in our favour. It was CLE who scored the late winner to send the home-bound Yellow Army into raptures, whilst Gary Johnson orchestrated a celebration into the cameras to cap off a strange but successful afternoon for Torquay United. This year the supporters are back, let’s make plenty of noise next Saturday to start the season with a bang.
Full Record – Played 10, Won 6, Draws 4, Lost 0, Goals For 14, Goals Against 6, Points 22