Danny Burnell – @dannyburnell_92
With the visit of Stockport just days away, I take a look at a classic encounter between the two at Plainmoor back in 2006.
Torquay United 4-0 Stockport County
Tuesday 25th April 2006 – 19.45 KO
Team: Marriott, Andrews, Woods, Taylor, Reed, Phillips, Garner, Hollands, Hill, Kuffour, Thorpe
Subs: Robinson, Hockley, Connell, Villis, Sako
Goals: TU: Thorpe 4, 18, Kuffour 23, Hollands 48
16 April 2006, the Gulls had just been beaten 2-1 at home to Cheltenham, to condemn them to their third straight league defeat, and leave them 6 points adrift of safety. The situation was desperate and relegation to the Conference for the first ever time seemed a question of when, not if.
Table as at 16 April 2006
Torquay faced 5 cup finals. 5 games to rescue them from the oblivion of non-league. A Kuffour double secured a vital win at Macclesfield, before a Martin Phillips goal grabbed all three points against Wrexham. The Gulls had given themselves hope entering the final 3 games, as they headed into the must-win 6 pointer against Stockport.
Table as at 24 April 2006
With the original game postponed earlier in the year, Torquay were playing catch up and had a fantastic opportunity to close the gap to Oxford, Barnet and their opponents Stockport with just a trio of games left to play. Torquay knew an unlikely 5 goal win would ensure they climb out the drop zone, at the expense of Oxford. Little did the Yellow Army know just how close that scenario nearly become reality.
Atkins’ started off with his conventional 4-4-2 formation. Andy Marriott had been producing heroics between the sticks most of the season, with the Roots Hall promotion duo Woods & Taylor coupling up at the back. Club legend Kevin Hill and the vastly experienced Martin Phillips occupied the flanks, with target man Lee Thorpe partnering the highly skilful Jo Kuffour.
United could hardly believe their luck when Lee Thorpe opened the scoring after just 4 minutes. A opportunist header forward from midfield veteran Darren Garner, wasn’t dealt with by the Hatters’ defence, and the striker capitalised in true style by acrobatically finishing beyond keeper James Spencer in front of the travelling Stockport contingent.
Things got even better for the Gulls 14 minutes later when Garner’s out-swinging corner found the towering Thorpe, who once again finished with aplomb. A powerful header from 10 yards out, and leaving his marker in his wake, Thorpey once again left the keeper reeling to put Torquay 2-0 up.
Torquay and the Yellow Army were in fine voice, so when Jo Kuffour latched onto a long ball forward from Lee Andrews, Plainmoor went off! With just 23 minutes on the clock, Torquay were 3 up and in a position of real command. Suddenly, Oxford were within their sights.
Some heroic defending from the Gulls backline, including an off the line clearance from Woods ensured the Gulls went into the break with a 3 goal cushion.
You’d be forgiven for Ian Atkins’ men to shut up shop for the second half, you’d wrongly assume. Just 3 minutes after the restart, on-loan Chelsea midfielder, Danny Hollands, who was superb in his time at Plainmoor by the way, had the audacity and vision to superbly lob the Hatters’ keeper to send the Gulls, 4, yes 4 nil up.
County rarely threatened, with Marriott called into action only a handful of times. Thorpe chased that hat-trick without success, but for the first time that season, Torquay had scored 4, and in the process, at the most crucial time of the season, secured 3 wins on the bounce heading into the final 2 games of the season.
The great escape was complete when Torquay masterminded the result of the century by beating champions elect Carlisle on their own patch. With the Trophy in waiting at Blundell Park, the Gulls, backed by a 1,000 stronghold, put the champagne on ice with a 2-1 win, to move them up to an unassailable 19th place heading into the final day.
Torquay knew in all likelihood a point was enough at Plainmoor on matchday 46, and they duly obliged with a 0-0 draw with Boston. Torquay United and Ian Atkins’ masterminded the greatest of great escapes…..
Relive the game below!
THE TEAM THAT DAY:
ANDY MARRIOTT: The experienced stopper joined the Gulls in March 2005 after a spell with Bury. The #1 proved a pivotal player that season, often performing masterclasses to earn the Gulls vital points.
Final Gulls stats: League apps: 61
LEE ANDREWS: The right back signed on loan from Carlisle in March 2006, and played every match (bar Carlisle) in the run-in. That earned Andrews a permanent contract in the summer.
Final Gulls stats: League apps: 53, League goals: 0
STEVE WOODS: One half of the dynamic centre back pairing that secured us promotion in 04. Woods became a club legend with his string of solid defensive performances and professionalism over his 8 year stay, often chipping in with some vital goals.
Final Gulls stats: League apps: 247, League goals: 11
CRAIG TAYLOR: Another player who needs no introduction with his wisdom and leadership. What Taylor lacked in pace, he made up for in defensive prowess in his 4 years at Plainmoor. Injury got the better of him as he ultimately retired in 2007.
Final Gulls stats: League apps: 128, League goals: 5
STEPHEN REED: The young left back made the initial switch on loan from Yeovil a month earlier, before making the move permanent in the summer of 2006.
Final Gulls stats: League apps: 26, League goals: 0
MARTIN PHILLIPS: The hugely popular winger joined the Gulls in July 2004 from local rivals Plymouth. Martin enjoyed 3 successful seasons at Plainmoor before being forced into retirement due to injury.
Final Gulls stats: League apps: 70, League goals: 6
DARREN GARNER: Another former Argyle midfielder, Garner made the switch from Rotherham in March 2005, firstly on loan. He signed on full terms in the summer.
Final Gulls stats: League apps: 60, League goals: 3
DANNY HOLLANDS: It was somewhat of a coup when Torquay announced the signing of Chelsea reserve captain and hot prospect Danny Hollands. In his short time at Plainmoor, the youngster made a big impact.
Final Gulls stats: League apps: 10, League goals: 1
KEVIN HILL: Torquay United’s record appearance holder and ultimate TUFC legend. Making his debut in 1997, the leaping wide man became part of the Gulls furniture during his 11 year stint.
Final Gulls stats: League apps: 417, League goals: 52
LEE THORPE: Another one who after a loan spell, signed a permanent contract with the Gulls. His goals proved vital in the Gulls bid to beat the drop.
Final Gulls stats: League apps: 51, League goals: 11
JO KUFFOUR: A player you can’t help but admirer. Crucial in Leroy’s promotion winning team, and equally as vital in the great escape. Jo wowed fans with his majestic feet over a 4 year spell at TQ1.
Final Gulls stats: League apps: 148, League goals: 29
PLAYED FOR BOTH:
Torquay career: 2016-17
Stockport career: 2006 (loan)
Torquay career: 1995-96
Stockport career: 1997-99
Torquay career: 2009-11
Stockport career: 2013-14
Last 5 H2H at Plainmoor.
03/10/20 – National League: Torquay 1-0 Stockport
30/11/19 – National League: Torquay 1-5 Stockport
05/02/11 – League Two: Torquay 2-0 Stockport
31/03/07 – League Two: Torquay 1-0 Stockport
25/04/06 – League Two: Torquay 4-0 Stockport
COYY – Danny
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