Subs Not Used: Adams, Todd, Carlisle, Stevens, Mills, Rendell, Williams
Goals: NC: Westcarr 12, Davies 33
TU: Ellis 43, Sills 77
The Gulls travelled to Nottinghamshire having taken just 8 points from their first 11 games. An opening day win against Chesterfield, and a first triumph on the road at Burton 10 days later had set United up for a bright start following their promotion in the May. An 8 game winless run then followed, including 6 straight defeats, consigning Torquay to the relegation places (23rd), being propped up only by the hapless Darlington. If the Yellow Army thought League Two would be a walk in the park, these fears had been quickly eradicated.
Big spenders County were making all sorts of headlines off the field. Former England Manager Sven-Goran Eriksson was announced as Director of Football that summer, and more amazingly former England International Sol Campbell signed for the club in August on a 5 year deal. By September, his contract was mutually cancelled. He managed just 1 appearance in a 2-1 defeat at Morecambe. It was also a Magpies side that included a very talented 23 year old keeper by the name of Kasper Schmeichel, and now Premier League star Matt Ritchie.
The Sky cameras were in town for this Goliath v David clash and Notts spending power clubbed with the Gulls awful run of form, was expected to result in only one outcome. As the bookies call it, it was a Home BANKER!
True to the form book, the Magpies took the lead in the 12th minute when midfielder Craig Westcarr slotted past Poke with a cool finish. Poke was very much earning his corn that evening, with the onslaught of the United goal continuing. Rather inevitably, County made it 2-0 with a superbly taken Ben Davies free kick and the bookies were getting ready to pay out. Down on their luck, 2-0 behind against the league big-hitters, in front of a 8k+ strong home crowd, you’d be forgiven for thinking anything but a home romp was a formality at this stage.
The plucky Gulls kept going and found a reward when 2 minutes before the break Mark Ellis headed home from 6 yards to half the deficit. The Yellow Army couldn’t believe their luck. But now there was hope. United went into the tunnel 2-1 down.
Whatever Buckle did or said in that dressing room worked! United were buoyed, tails were up and the Gulls now looked hungry. After being much of a spectator for the best part of 45 minutes, Schmeichel was now being worked, and worked regularly. Benyon and Hargreaves tested the Danish stopper, but it was Zorro himself, Sills, who bagged just his second goal of the season on 77 minutes. A Nicholson delivery was nodded down by Hargreaves into the path of the striker to bag the unlikeliest, but by all means deserved equalisers.
United held on to the draw, but it wasn’t without its pulsating moments. Karl Hawley (remember him) came close to winning it for the home side, but his effort crashed against the woodwork.
The result spurred the Gulls on, as they won 4 of their next 10 league games, only losing twice.
“We’ve come to Notts County and drawn, as we have in our previous two league games. We have to turn the draws into wins now and we know that. And we are still working with the boys that played non-league last season, and they’ll take a bit of time to adjust” PB