I was seriously considering whether to take a jacket to this game, but I needn’t have worried. It turned out to be a lovely hot and sunny day, which was perfect for a ground with an open terrace, unlike at Yeovil a few months ago, where we got a soaking.
Ironically, the manager that day was Darren Sarll, who was looking to avoid being on the end of three consecutive defeats against The Gulls, having recently left Yeovil for Woking.
Due to the heat, it seemed unlikely that Gary Johnson would use the high press, high energy game so successfully employed against Notts County last weekend. That ultimately proved to be the case, as we gave Woking a lot more space to pass around their back-line.
An away day for Torquay at Woking is always well attended. We have had a well-documented rivalry since the National League South season, with that late Ben Wynter goal being the highlight.
Fittingly, several members of the Ben Wynter Apprecation Society (BWAS) were there, along with the Hampshire Gulls, Capital Gulls, some celebrities such as Charlie Baker, John Cadigan, and Helen Chamberlain, and a large contingent leaving early from Devon tackling the road and train network at the start of the Bank Holiday weekend.
This made for a real sense of community in both the nearby Sovereigns pub and the away sections as a very respectable 646 members of the Yellow Army swelled the bumper 3344 crowd.
Quick start and a goal from a reliable source
One of the defining features of Torquay’s recent run has been the players pushing forward with enthusiasm from the very start of the game, and getting an early goal or two.
This seemed to be the strategy at Woking, and it paid off with a goal for Armani Little in the 19th minute.
Armani’s dad, who had travelled up from Portsmouth, and was standing on the terracing with the Yellow Army, was visibly beaming with pride at his sons performance.
This was the vice captain’s 14th goal of a great season (where he has even more assists) and he was heavily involved in the attacking play all afternoon.
Game of two halves
As is often common for the away side, they don’t have it all of their own way for the entire game, and Woking came back in the second half with the majority of possession.
They hit the crossbar, and the side netting twice, but I don’t recall them having a clear shot on target that particularly troubled The Gulls.
Torquay had a great chance on a breakaway near the end to finish the game. Perhaps Connor could have done better following a pass from Armani, but there were certainly a lot fewer chances than recent games.
It was therefore satisfying to be able to achieve our first away clean sheet of the season, to maintain the good run, despite hanging on during the excessive seven minutes of injury time.
Play-off chances reaching a critical point
This was Torquay’s fourth win in a row, and with struggling Eastleigh at home on Monday many fans are anticipating another victory to make it five out of five (no counting chickens here!).
The teams currently in 6th and 7th place, Notts County and Grimsby both won, which means that the gap is still 7 or 8 points.
Torquay are now above the 2 points per game average over the last 20 games, so current form is excellent, but they are highly reliant on these teams above dropping points.
It is worth noting though that Torquay do have a game in hand on Notts County, who are not playing on Monday (due to the odd number of teams in the league), so if they win against Eastleigh then the gap to Notts County will be down to 5 points.
The next game is then away at Grimsby on Saturday, which will be absolutely vital for our play-off ambitions.
Stephen Wearne and Tom Lapslie were missing from the squad for this game.
Wearne clearly injured himself last weekend at Plainmoor, before being substituted, but it seems that Lapslie was just being rested on this occasion and may be back for Monday.
Asa Hall was given a rare chance in the starting line-up and did well, along with Dan Martin at left wing back who replaced Wearne last Saturday against Notts County.
There were a few names on the bench that we hadn’t seen for a while, such as Joe Felix and Klaidi Lolos, with Opi Edwards coming on the second half.
You do wonder whether some of those players will feature in Monday’s match at Plainmoor with this being the third game in ten days, let’s hope they are ready.
COYY – Alan
“We’ve got a game in hand on some of the teams above us, and we still have to play a couple of them – it’s all still to play for. If the fans turn up again on Monday (Eastleigh H), we’ll be very grateful, and that’s another opportunity for us” – GARY JOHNSON