Torquay United Manager - Gary Johnson

PREVIEW: Torquay United vs Maidenhead United

Joseph Bulmer

The last thing Torquay United need is for their season to finish as it started, which makes it extra important to go out on a high, especially at Plainmoor, where the Gulls bow out for 2021-2022 against Maidenhead United on Saturday (3pm) and promotion-chasing Chesterfield seven days later.

So much work has gone into recovering from last summer's Play-Off 'hangover' and the so-short close-season which followed.

United have since beaten many of the top sides in the division and mounted a spirited pursuit of the POs again over the second half of the season.

Now twelve points adrift with only five games to go, the talk is already of decisions on who stays and who goes, and understandably so.  But it would be a shame if the campaign goes out with a whimper instead of at least some sort of bang.

"Keep going and carry on" has been the message from Gary Johnson this week

"We want to showcase our club on and off the field, especially the one against Chesterfield on TV (May 7 BT Sport 12.30pm)," he says.

And, of course, these last few games are a chance for some players to make possible career-turning points to the manager, or whoever else might be watching.

As long as making the POs was still on, Johnson reported: "Some people have been playing through niggling injuries".  So, with Dagenham & Redbridge (A) also looming on (Bank Holiday) Monday, expect some changes in selection.

In among four defeats in the first six games of the season, Maidenhead were the first side that United beat, but if Saturday's game is anything like United's 4-3 win at York Road in September, both managements will probably need sedatives at some stage.

The Gulls led 4-0 at half-time that day, through Armani Little (2), Asa Hall and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, before creaking in the second half under a nothing-to-lose aerial bombardment.

Prominent in Maidenhead's fightback was centre-forward Nathan Blissett, one of three former Gulls in Alan Devonshire's squad - winger Dan Sparkes and ex-loanee striker Shawn McCoulsky are the other two, although Sparkes has been sidelined for the past month.

Their leading scorer is homegrown 23-year-old Josh Kelly, who has spent recent seasons as an attacking midfielder before advancing to hit 17 goals this season.

The referee is Ryan Atkin from London.

Voting has opened for the Torbay Weekly-sponsored United Player and Young Player Of The Season awards.

Fans can vote online via the club's website or with a paper slip at one of the polling points around Plainmoor at Saturday's match against Maidenhead.

The trophies are due to be presented at the final home game against Chesterfield (May 7).