Moxey milestone at Eastleigh

Torbay Weekly

Torquay United's squad should be slightly stronger for the second leg of their Christmas/New Year programme - a trip to Hampshire to face Eastleigh at the Silverlake Stadium on Tuesday (3pm).

But whatever 'tweaks' manager Gary Johnson may be considering to the team which beat Yeovil Town 3-0 at Plainmoor on Boxing Day, one selection seems assured - and rightly so on a personal milestone occasion.

Defender Dean Moxey is poised to make his 600th senior appearance in a career which has embraced two spells at his hometown Exeter City and one each at Derby County, Crystal Palace, Bolton Wanderers and now Torquay.

The fact that, at 35, Moxey was outstanding at centre-back against the Glovers on Sunday also gives him a pretty good chance of starting against the Spitfires.

The Gulls were without several players, including goalkeeper Mark Halstead, Sinclair Armstrong and new signing Joe Felix, against Yeovil Town because of Covid-isolation issues.

But that victory cost them no new injury problems, and manager Gary Johnson is hoping that one or two of the absent men might be back.

"We're counting each day that those lads have to isolate for, and doing all the tests we can, and the squad should be healthy again some time soon," he said.

Head of Medical Kai Hepworth was also missing on Boxing Day for the same reason, but he should be back on duty at Eastleigh and for the return derby at Yeovil on January 2.

Rest, recovery and a review were the order of the day when the players reported in on Monday, as they prepared to take on an Eastleigh side whose Boxing Day game against Weymouth was off because of Covid 'positives' in the Terras' camp.

"Eastleigh will have had more rest than us. We can't change that," said Johnson.

"But we go into this match after what I thought was a performance of total professionalism against Yeovil."

That verdict was underlined by the fact that the Glovers picked up two red and five yellow cards, to United's none.

Johnson was also able to send on Chiori Johnson, Keelan O'Connell and Ali Omar in the last ten minutes on Sunday, while keeping experienced men Dan Holman and club skipper Asa Hall, just back from a Covid issue of his own, on the bench and fresh if needed now.

Ben Strevens' Eastleigh (15th) are three places and two points behind Torquay.

They have had some impressive recent results to their credit - wins over Notts County (H), Dagenham (A) and a draw with Solihull Moors, all without conceding a goal - yet they also slipped up 3-0 at home to improving Aldershot Town.

Former United midfielder Danny Hollands is still, at 36, the brains behind their attack.