United travel to Trophy Angels
- Credit: The FA/Sam Holden Agency/Tom Mur
Having lost to one National League South side, Havant & Waterlooville, in the FA Cup, the last thing Torquay United want is to be knocked out of the FA Trophy by another, Tonbridge Angels, in Kent on Saturday (3pm).
But the Third Round tie also falls at an interesting time for the Gulls - after two morale-boosting league wins, just before a potentially season-changing Christmas/New Year spell and as manager Gary Johnson appears to be conducting a reassessment of his squad.
Recent ins and outs have carried their own messages, although the newest arrival, ex-Fulham and QPR midfielder Joe Felix is 'cup-tied' this weekend, after playing for Billericay Town in the competition.
"I read somewhere that it might have been a bad summer group of signings," said Johnson. "But hopefully people are now seeing why we signed them.
"They have got to become regular first-team players now."
Attacking left-back Dan Martin was certainly one of the youngsters whom Johnson was referring to, but Trophy ties are often marked by chances for 'fringe' players or ones just back from injuries, and that may well happen this time.
Among the options open to Johnson are Mark Halstead or Marcin Brzozowski in goal, Omar Ali at centre-back, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans and Keelan O'Connell in midfield and Danny Wright and Dan Holman up front.
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"The Trophy is important - we want to keep our momentum going. Later, you may have to reschedule league games, but that's not the case yet," said Johnson.
"And you know you're going to need to use your whole squad over the next few weeks.
"Tonbridge are no mugs, and they are calling our game the second biggest game in their history - they played Bradford City in the FA Cup a couple of years back.
"Some of their players have had decent careers. They haven't got to worry about their league position, and we have to make sure that we don't let our travelling supporters down."
As well as Felix and Olaf Koszela, on loan at Tiverton, midfielder Gabby Rogers is also 'cup-tied', as Johnson has allowed him to play for Truro City against Dagenham & Redbridge on Sunday.
He explained that, since Rogers has joined Truro for a month initially to get game time, it made little sense to stop him playing at this point.
Tonbridge (18th) have found points harder to come by than usual this season, mainly because they've won only one of nine home games so far.
Manager Steve McKimm has been in charge since 2014 and there are a smattering of recognisable names in his squad, including former Brighton and Port Vale midfielder Doug Loft and ex-Dover winger Ricky Modeste.
Despite their modest league record, the Angels have proved hard to beat on occasions, and one of them was in a 1-0 win at Canvey Island in the last round.
Truro-v-Dagenham isn't the only tie involving a South-West club this weekend - Plymouth Parkway of the Southern League Division One South are also home to Dulwich Hamlet of the NL South on Saturday.