THE STORY OF TORQUAY UNITED’S 2021 by Dom Roman

TUFC 2021

Dom_Roman

Dom Roman – @DomRoman

The Ed looks at the Gulls year as it happened…


JANUARY

MISSING DANNY

SUMMARY:

After the highs of late 2020, and the fantastic revenge mauling of Yeovil at Plainmoor – January started 2021 far more modestly. The Gulls had enough possession to beat the Glovers at Huish Park, but in a scrappy encounter we succombed to a late headed winner from Luke Wilkinsondo. Happy New Year! Two massive fixtures followed versus Notts County and Sutton, but with the absence of Danny Wright derailing our attacking cohesion there was no goals in either game. The month did finish with something to cheer, the Gulls despatching lowly Barnet with Jake Andrews returning to score a sweet left footer. The Gulls remained easily top of the Christmas pile, but the early season confidence had evaporated a little as injuries and a harsh winter kicked in. This was not going to be a cake walk to the EFL…

RESULTS:

NATIONAL LEAGUE: Yeovil (a) 2-1 LOST, Notts County (a) 0-0 DRAW, Sutton (h) 0-0 DRAW, Barnet (a) 0-2 WIN – POINTS: 5/12

FA TROPHY: 4th Round – Boreham Wood (a) 0-4 WIN

GAME OF THE MONTH: 

FEBRUARY

TITLE SLIPPING AWAY?

SUMMARY:

Where was the 2020-21 National League title lost I hear you ask? Well February and early March is probably the answer. With the Gulls struggling to find swagger and loan signings not making a difference, United played three games in a row at Plainmoor and only picked up one point. A topsy turvy affair against Halifax looked to be heading in our direction with two calm penalties from Asa Hall, but the Shaymen would not lie down, Earing and King responding to take the 3 points back up North. Infuriating, and cue some Yellow Army meltdown. There was a little redemption though, as the Gulls deservedly earned a win away at Solihull with Billy Waters (whatever happened to him?!) bagging a second half goal to calm some nerves. Torquay still stood top of the NL by 4 points, but those pesky Sutton blighters had three games in hand heading into March…

RESULTS:

NATIONAL LEAGUE: Altrincham (h) 1-2 LOST, Wealdstone (h) 1-1 DRAW, Halifax (h) 2-3 LOST, Solihull (a) 1-2 WIN  – POINTS: 4/12

FA TROPHY: 5th Round – Southport (a) 0-2 WIN, Quarter Final – Woking (a) 1-0 LOST

GAME OF THE MONTH: 

MARCH

MAIDENHEAD (A) TURNING POINT

SUMMARY:

Tough games piled up in March, and a pitiful loss on the 16th at Maidenhead appeared to be the final straw in United’s title challenge. The Gulls meekly surrendered to Nathan Blissett’s bunch on a grim evening at York Road, and looked like a team heading nowhere but down, as Sutton pushed to the top. But the result ended up being a turning point in the season, Gary Johnson refusing to panic and lifting our fortunes around with two wins on the bounce over the mighty King’s Lynn (with Scott Boden scoring a valuable winner) and a terrific first half Gulls display that overwhelmed Solhull Moors. Despite this, a narrow loss at Dagenham and Redridge brought us back down to earth. Was this the final dagger in a season that had title winning glory written all over it? It felt like it at the time, but a stubborn Asa Hall and his men had other ideas.

RESULTS:

NATIONAL LEAGUE: Hartlepool (h) 0-1 LOST, Boreham Wood (a) 0-0 DRAW, Maidenhead (a) 4-1 LOST, King’s Lynn (h) 1-0 WIN, Solihull Moors (h) 2-0 WIN, Dagenham (a) 1-0 LOST – POINTS: 7/18  

GAME OF THE MONTH:

APRIL

BACK IN BUSINESS

SUMMARY:

If the Gulls had lost their way in February and March, then April was the month when we reasserted ourselves as proper contenders for the automatic promotion spot. There was nothing very flashy about United, but five wins on a bounce were gained through sheer force of will and determination, with a top of the table clash at Sutton settled by a wonderful header from Asa Hall. There was also Gary Time aplenty, with late winners from Sam Sherring at Wrexham and Scott Boden versus Aldershot, and a ridiculously late comeback against Notts County, as Ben Wynter somehow shinned in an equaliser. 19 points out of 21 and a side re-invigorated just in time, with Joe Lewis and Sam Sherring imperious at the back and precocious Adam Randell just getting better and better. 6 more games left and one point between United and Sutton, who had a valuable game in hand.

RESULTS:

NATIONAL LEAGUE: Woking (h) 1-0 WIN, Wrexham (a) 0-1 WIN, Weymouth (h) 2-1 WIN, Sutton (a) 0-1 WIN, Woking (a) 0-2 WIN, Notts County (h) 2-2 DRAW, Aldershot (h) 2-1 WIN – POINTS: 19/21  

GAME OF THE MONTH

MAY

2ND PLACE IT IS

SUMMARY:

The momentum from April continued into the month of May, as Eastleigh were sent packing by goals from Waters, Hall and Andrews, and then a tough away fixture at Chesterfield was dismissed with Waters again on the scoresheet and the fantastic Connor Lemonheigh-Evans grabbing the other. Scott Boden celebrating on the sidelines and the Yellow Army celebrating on their sofas. With four games to play the Gulls were in charge of their own destiny, but unfortunately that’s where Gary Johnson’s team stalled. Kimpioka missed that sitter in the dying embers of a frustrating draw at Plainmoor against Bromley, and then despite a galvanised performance at Edgeley Park, only a point was gained versus Stockport County. Sutton had kept winning and when the Yellows slipped up at home to Barnet, the game was up for 1st place. A missed opportunity and the play-offs awaited.

RESULTS:

NATIONAL LEAGUE:  – Eastleigh (h) 3-1 WIN, Chesterfield (a) 0-2 WIN, Bromley (h) 0-0 DRAW, Stockport (a) 2-2 DRAW, Barnet (h) 2-2 DRAW, Altrincham (a) 0-0 DRAW – POINTS: 10/18  

GAME OF THE MONTH

JUNE

PLAY-OFF HEARTBREAK

SUMMARY:

June was emotional. A noisy Yellow Army returned to Plainmoor for a semi-final against Notts County, and in a game that ebbed and flowed, it was the veterans who came up trumps for United, as Danny Wright returned with two brilliant goals and Asa Hall and Dean Moxey scored in extra time. Moxey’s clincher was a controversial penalty in an action packed game of football, the Gulls had made it to Ashton Gate. What followed was one of the most intense and crazy afternoons on the 20th June. The Gulls had two very debatable goals disallowed sandwiched either side of a Luke Armstrong goal for the Monkey Hangers. Gary Johnson’s side threw every at it in the second half, the crowd made for an electric atmosphere and then Lucas Covolan swooped to equalise – a moment so ridiculous you could not make it up! With the game swinging in our favour, it felt like this was our time. But then pain and disbelief in the penalties with misses from Wright, Waters and Buse consigning us to NL football again in 21-22. I’ve said enough, an afternoon that will linger horribly for some time. To compound matters Lucas Covolan and Kyle Cameron left for pastures new soon after, whilst Gary Johnson released Matt Buse and Billy Waters as the gaffer hastily started preparing for the next season. Moxey, Hall, Wynter and Wright all signing new deals at the end of the month.

NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAY-OFFS: Semi-Final – Notts County (h) 4-2 aet WIN, FINAL: Hartlepool Utd (Aston Gate) 1-1 aet 4-5 on pens LOST  

GAME OF THE MONTH

JULY

MANIC MONDAY

SUMMARY:

The news this month was dominated by Manic Monday! On a somewhat barmy 19th July, Torquay United unveiled more signings than you could shake a stick at, including the likes of Klaidi Lolos, Ali Omar and Tom Lapslie, as Gary Johnson pushed to gather a competitive squad for 2021-22. The results have been mixed as you well know… Armani Little and Jake Andrews also signed on to stay for longer, but Ben Whitfield and Aaron Nemane left. The Yellow Army returned to friendly action in the sunshine at Poole Town, before Truro City were beaten 3-0 at Plainmoor and Plymouth Argyle turned the tables with a 3-0 win of their own. 

RESULTS:

PRE-SEASON FRIENDLIES: Poole Town (a) 0-2 WIN, Truro City (h) 3-0 WIN, Plymouth Argyle (h) 0-3 LOST  


AUGUST

PLAY-OFF HANGOVER

SUMMARY:

Three more pre-season friendlies followed for the Gulls. Gabby Rogers, Chiori Johnson and Dan Holman were added to the squad after impressive performances against Tivvy, Chippenham and Bournemouth’s youngsters, bulking up the squad numbers as the big kick-off approached. The words ‘play-off’ and ‘hangover’ were banded frequently as United were turned over by Altrincham at Plainmoor, but the Gulls did rebound one week later to draw 1-1 at Notts County, with Danny Wright finding the target to the delight of the travelling Yellow Army. The month however, finished with a miserable defeat at home to Woking. The Gulls were dominated by the Cards and thrashed 4-0 at Plainmoor to reinforce doubts about another promotion push for 2021-22. 

PRE-SEASON FRIENDLIES: Tiverton Town (a) 1-3 WIN, Chippenham (h) 3-0 WIN, Bournemouth U23s (h) 4-0 WIN

NATIONAL LEAGUE: Altrincham (h) 1-3 LOST, Notts County (a) 1-1 DRAW, Woking (h) 0-4 LOST – POINTS: 1/9

GAME OF THE MONTH:

SEPTEMBER

‘GARY TIME’ RETURNS

SUMMARY:

After a stuttering start to the season, the Gulls found some better performances as September rolled along. United were magnificent and cruising at Maidenhead, 0-4 up by half time with goals from Armani Little, CLE and Hall, before an onslaught from the home team brought it back to 3-4 and left us all begging for the final whistle. A mixed bag of results finalised the month, with the best left until last as an unbelievable ‘Gary Time’ comeback saw United somehow grab a 2-2 draw at highly fancied Chesterfield. It was Tom Lapslie who scrambled in the equaliser as the seconds ticked away, leaving the home fans seething! All in all an improved month for the Gulls, and something to build on heading into October.

NATIONAL LEAGUE: Maidenhead (a) 3-4 WIN, Solihull Moors (a) 2-1 LOST, Southend (h) 1-0 WIN, Chesterfield (a) 2-2 DRAW – POINTS: 7/12

GAME OF THE MONTH:

OCTOBER

INCONSISTENCY REIGNS

SUMMARY:

Torquay do not score five goals very often, so a 5-0 romp at home to Wealdstone was one to enjoy, as Dan Holman finally found his first competitive goals for United. Unfortunately the joy was short-lived as two tough away fixtures at Boreham and Bromley yielded no goals or points, and things got even gloomier as United were turfed out of the FA Cup by NLS Havant in a replay. A fairly routine victory over King’s Lynn followed to raise spirits, with new loan chaps Harry Perritt and Sinclair Armstrong making just the impact that Gary Johnson had hoped for. Last but not least, Wrexham away brought a big crowd for the Hollywood owners’ appearance, but the Gulls were party poopers with Connor Lemonheigh-Evans heading in late to grab a point. There followed ugly scenes from the home support, as the Yellow Army had objects pelted at them. Thankfully no injuries were sustained and a sweet result was celebrated by the travelling numbers all the way back to the bay.

NATIONAL LEAGUE:  Wealdstone (h) 5-0 WIN, Boreham Wood (a) 2-0 LOST, Bromley (a) 2-0 LOST, King’s Lynn (h) 2-0 WIN, Wrexham (a) 1-1 DRAW – POINTS: 7/15

FA CUP: 4th Qualifying Round – Havant (h) 2-2 DRAW, Havant (a) 4-2 LOST

GAME OF THE MONTH:

NOVEMBER

ARMANI SILENCES THE DOUBTERS

SUMMARY:

If October sowed seeds of optimism amongst the Yellow Army, November slapped us swiftly back down to earth. Dover Athletic at home was a strange game, with the lowly away team scoring early through Travis Gregory and then United struggling to respond. Armani Little came to our rescue with an equaliser before half time, and then banged in a beauty to win it at the death. In-between this was boos at the announcement of the man of the match award, but thankfully the midfielder has silenced these doubters very quickly. After that it was three sobering defeats on the bounce to Barnet, Aldershot and Halifax, with a late rally at Plainmoor masking what was a dominant display from the impressive Shaymen and included an inevitable goal from Billy Waters. With Gary Johnson left understandably frustrated, the Gulls season remained very much work-in-progress.

NATIONAL LEAGUE:  Dover Athletic (h) 2-1 WIN, Barnet (a) 2-1 LOST, Aldershot Town (a) 1-0 LOST, Halifax (h) 2-3 LOST – POINTS: 3/12

GAME OF THE MONTH

DECEMBER

BIG WINS FOR UNITED TO FINISH 2021

SUMMARY:

Weymouth away at the start of December had suddenly become United’s biggest game of the season, as pressure intensified on the Gulls to find 3 points. With the Yellow Army in fine voice United delivered, Sinclair Armstrong arriving as sub to find a deserved winner. Jake Andrews then left for Havant and Jack Sparkes joined on loan from Exeter as GJ rejigged his squad. This Weymouth momentum was carried onto Plainmoor, with an end to end game against Stockport settled by an Asa Hall penalty. United battling tremendously against Dave Challinor’s men for the 3 points, and finding some retribution for the man who had scuppered our promotion party. The Gulls fell out of the Trophy with a whimper, but did find Christmas delight with a 3-0 win over the Glovers, a match filled with derby day challenges and controversy.

The end of 2021 was here, and it was typically eventful for TUFC! Starting 1st and finishing 14th is a grim statistic that cannot be dismissed and that play-off final will hurt for a long while. With huge squad changes and a side too inconsistent to currently be amongst the play-off race, it appears that a season of rebuilding is upon us. But saying that with Gary Johnson in charge, you never know… 

NATIONAL LEAGUE: Weymouth (a) 1-2 WIN, Stockport County 2-1 WIN, Yeovil Town (h) 3-0 WIN, Eastleigh (a) 2-1 LOST – POINTS: 9/12

FA TROPHY: 3rd Round – Tonbridge Angels (a) 2-1 LOST

GAME OF THE MONTH

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM ALL AT TORQUAYTALK 

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I simply live and breathe Football and have supported Torquay United since 1989. I am a season ticket holder on Bristows and a Trust member. I set up TorquayTalk in 2017 to give true supporters a voice and honest opinions on their club.

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