Gulls set to fight for play-off glory in bid for promotion

General view of plainmoor before the National League match between Torquay United and Barnet at Plai

Supporters were allowed back at Plainmoor before the match between Torquay United and Barnet on Saturday. - Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Torquay United will have to win the play-offs next month to return to the Football League after Sutton United clinched the National League Championship and automatic promotion on Sunday.

A day after the Gulls' 2-2 home draw with Barnet, Sutton sealed the deal with a game to spare with a 3-0 victory over fourth-placed Hartlepool United at Gander Green Lane.

Torquay are guaranteed the runners-up spot, and they will be at home in the first play-off semi-final on Saturday, June 12 (KO midday) against the winners of the fifth v sixth elimination round game.

United led 2-0 midway through the first half against Barnet, and a win would have cranked up the pressure on Sutton and taken the title race to the last day.

But dropped points at home, including recent draws against Bromley (0-0) and Barnet, have cost the Gulls dear, and, after the result at Plainmoor, Sutton knew that one more win would wrap up their first-ever promotion to the EFL.

A goal by full-back Rob Milsom in the 35th minute set them on their way, and second-half efforts by fellow defender Louis John and on-loan Millwall striker Isaac Oloafe wrapped up their 25th win in 41 games.

Sutton can now start ripping up their all-weather pitch and laying a grass one for their League Two bow in August.

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Hartlepool needed a win to overtake Stockport County and force their way into the top-three, which avoids the first round of the play-offs and ensures a home semi-final.

Torquay have one league game left, away to Altrincham next Saturday (Sutton travel to Barnet), before knowing who their play-off opponents will be.

Who will reach the post-season is still wide open - even FC Halifax Town in tenth place have a chance of making the top seven.

The play-off final will be at Ashton Gate, Bristol, on Sunday, June 20.