Gulls duo walking disciplinary tightrope - thanks to late start to season

Torbay Weekly

Key Torquay United players Joe Lewis and Armani Little must walk a Christmas/New Year disciplinary tightrope, because the National League season started a fortnight late this season.

Centre-back Lewis and midfielder Little are both on four bookings, one short of automatic one-match suspensions, ahead of holiday games against Westcountry rivals Yeovil Town at Plainmoor on Boxing Day, Eastleigh away on December 28 and the return at Yeovil on January 2.

The 'cut-off' point for five bookings is 23 league games, after which the pressure is off until later in the season.

But the late start of August 21 means most teams have played only 18 or 19 matches so far, and United won't reach the halfway stage of the season, 23, until they meet Dagenham and Redbridge at home on January 8.

Lewis and Little have been doing their utmost to stay out of trouble - Lewis cautioned once in his last 14 games and Little once in 16.

Manager Gary Johnson said: "Joe and Armani have done well to keep it to four as they have done, and hopefully they can keep going, because we can ill afford to lose them."

Johnson, who was without skipper Asa Hall and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans for last Saturday's 2-1 FA Trophy defeat at NL South side Tonbridge Angels, should have close to an all-fit squad for Boxing Day.

After upbeat 2-1 league wins over Weymouth and Stockport County, the Trophy loss was another jolt, Johnson describing some of his players as 'nearly men' on the day.

The Yeovil match and the return at Huish Park are all-ticket affairs - no tickets will be available on the day.

The Gulls are understood to be monitoring the situation over any new Covid restrictions for fans, because details could change at short notice depending on Government moves.

As things stand, clubs are supposed to fulfil fixtures as long as they have 13 fit players, plus a goalkeeper.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Marcin Brzozowski has been loaned to NL South side Gloucester City for a month - the ex-QPR player moved on a planned 'emergency' arrangement for Gloucester's FA Trophy tie at Wrexham (5-0) last weekend, but he will now stay for 28 days.