Torquay United ready for Sutton showdown

Plainmoor’s Torbay Weekly Stand

Plainmoor’s Torbay Weekly Stand - Credit: Archant

If any Torquay United fans are fretting over a nine-point lead heading into Tuesday night’s home game against National League promotion rivals Sutton United (7pm), then imagine how the chasing Ambers are feeling.  

Sure, the visitors could close the gap with their three games in hand, although the Gulls’ superior goal-difference is another factor in their favour.  

But Sutton (2nd) are also in a hugely important spell of matches.  

As well as Torquay at Plainmoor, Matt Gray’s side tackle Hartlepool United (3rd) and Stockport County (4th) – all away from home.  

“It’s another big game,” said Gulls manager Gary Johnson in the wake of Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Notts County. “But it’s a big test for them and us.  

“We didn’t create as many chances as we usually do at the weekend, but our review showed that we still played some good stuff.  

“And we can only be happy that we also kept a good team, with players who have experience at higher levels, at bay.”  

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Johnson would give nothing away on the injury front, where midfielder Asa Hall was ruled out on Saturday and defender Gary Warren came off near the end, both with calf muscle issues.  

Centre-back Fraser Kerr is also sidelined, but right-back Ben Wynter (hamstring) rejoined training on Monday for the first time in nearly two months.  

“Ben will need a bit longer, and we are trying to arrange a couple of friendlies, before he’s match-fit, but it’s good to see him back with us,” added Johnson.  

“I’ve always said that we needed a big squad to cope with the injuries which are bound to come with playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday each week, but every club will have to deal with that.”  

Sutton’s squad looked strong enough at the start of the season to challenge for promotion, and their attack, with a good mixture of pace and know-how, is duly delivering.  

They take few risks in defence, where manager Gray now seems to prefer Rob Milsom to the more attacking Ben Wyatt at left-back.  

Although ‘anchorman’ Craig Eastmond scored, from a goalie clearance, from 50 yards in Saturday’s 3-0 home win over ten-man Eastleigh, Harry Beautyman is the goalscoring threat from midfield.  

Pacy right-winger David Ajiboye has scored three times in the last four games, and the combination of ex-FGR centre-forward Omar Bugiel and Millwall loanee Isaac Olaofe is among the best strike pairings in the division.