Big challenge ahead for Torquay United

Torbay Weekly

Torquay United must do what only four other teams have done this season - even Championship title-chasers AFC Bournemouth fell to them in the FA Cup - and beat Boreham Wood to lift their hopes of making the National League Play-Offs at Plainmoor on Tuesday night (7.45pm).

Four points from Barnet last Saturday and then Boreham Wood would probably have been an acceptable return from those two home games, but the weekend's 2-2 draw means that Gary Johnson's Gulls must now do it the hard way.

Johnson has admitted that his side can afford few mistakes as they try to play 'catch-up' on the Play-Off places, and the loss of a 2-0 lead to Barnet left them eight points adrift with 16 games to go.

After Saturday's draw he described this match as 'an even bigger game points-wise'.

Not for the first time this season United started with no specialist strikers against Barnet.

You'd hardly have known it in the first half, when Connor Lemonheigh-Evans' sixth and seventh goals were the reward for some entertaining attacking play, but even the introduction of Danny Wright could not help as United faded into the wind in the second half.

Wright looked like a man still feeling his way back after injury and, with Dan Holman also unavailable with a groin problem, the Gulls are once again looking short of options up front.

It's hard to underestimate the job ahead of them, for third-placed Boreham Wood - they're nine points behind leaders Stockport County but with four games in hand - are enjoying a season to remember.

Last Saturday's surprise 2-0 defeat at Maidenhead, who have also accounted for promotion-chasing Chesterfield and Wrexham at York Road, was only their third loss in the league, although they did also lose at Wrexham in the FA Trophy.

The 'giant-killing' 1-0 win at Bournemouth has carried them, without even conceding a goal, into the Fifth Round of the FA Cup at Everton next Wednesday night.

Their miserly defence, including attacking right-back Kane Smith and consistent centre-backs Will Evans and David Stephens, has conceded only 17 goals and registered 15 'clean sheets' in 25 league games.

At the other end of the pitch, Wood's three ex-United forwards - Josh Rees, Scott Boden and Tyrone Marsh - have scored ten goals apiece, making the £250,000 sale of Kabby Tshimanga to Chesterfield last summer look like even better business.

That sale and their lucrative Cup run has allowed manager Luke Garrard to strengthen his squad still further during the course of the season, with players like Adrian Clifton, Dennon Lewis, James Comley and ex-Newcastle and Southend striker Nile Ranger all joining the squad.

But United do often rise to these occasions, as Stockport and Wrexham have discovered to their cost in the last couple of months, and a win over Wood would be another timely boost to those Play-Off chances.