Rewards for the players at Torquay United

Gary Johnson, Manager of Torquay United at the final whistle during the National League match betwee

Gary Johnson, Manager of Torquay United at the final whistle during the National League match between Torquay United and Weymouth at Plainmoor Torquay, Devon on Saturday 10th April 2021 - PHOTO: Dave Crawford/PPAUK - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

If Gary Johnson is named as the National League's April Manager of the Month - and victory over Aldershot Town at Plainmoor on Tuesday night (7pm) would surely clinch it - he will lay the award firmly at the feet of his still injury-hit squad. 

Johnson has never wanted to let his players even contemplate things like combat fatigue as they have clawed their way back to the top of the division. 

But the fact is that, like many of their rivals, they are in a cruelly relentless schedule which is reportedly getting to small squads right across the league. 

From Good Friday (April 2) to next Monday (May 3), when they travel to Chesterfield, Torquay will have played nine games in 32 days, a match every four days. 

Despite five wins and a draw in April, they are still without several senior players, although they hope to have on-loan Sunderland striker Benji Kimpioka and midfielder Armani Little back for this Saturday's home game against Eastleigh. 

The same squad, minus suspended forward Josh Umerah, which came from 0-2 and down to ten men to salvage a 2-2 draw against Notts Co at the weekend will try to complete a fourth 'double' of the season against Play-Off outsiders Aldershot. 

"I have been really proud of my players to get through as many games as they've had to in the face of adversity," said Johnson. 

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"We currently find ourselves back on top, the lads have had to fight hard to get there and we don't want to give it up." 

United are still frustrated about the dismissal of Umerah, who was sent off for two challenges with Notts' ex-Torquay defender Mark Ellis after referee Lewis Smith twice changed his original decisions to play on. 

Photographic evidence also appears to show that Umerah was harshly treated, but because the red card was the result of two yellows, there is no room for appeal. 

Off the back of a 2-0 home win over struggling Wealdstone, Aldershot are six points off the Play-Offs, so they have plenty to play for. 

They include former Gulls players Jamie Sendles-White in defence and Josh Rees in midfield. 

Since his loan spell at Plainmoor five years ago, Rees has become one of the most consistent midfield goalscorers in the National League at Chelmsford, Bromley and now the Shots, with 12 to his name already this season. 

The much-travelled Ricky Miller, 32, never quite made it at EFL level (Luton, Peterborough, Port Vale), but he is also a capable finisher in the National League, while young striker Harry Panayotiou is in good form at the moment. 

Second-placed Hartlepool don't play again until they host Chesterfield at the weekend, but Sutton (3rd) are at home to lowly Barnet, Stockport (4th) travel to King's Lynn Town, FC Halifax Town (5th) are at home to Woking, Bromley (6th) entertain Chesterfield (8th) and Notts Co (9th) travel to Eastleigh (10th).