Boxing Day at Plainmoor
- Credit: Archant
Revenge is definitely in the air of Torquay United’s dressing-room as the table-topping Gulls prepare to meet Yeovil Town at Plainmoor on Boxing Day (3pm).
That’s the view of United manager Gary Johnson, whose former club Yeovil inflicted a 6-2 rout at Huish Park last December 26 and a 2-0 win at Plainmoor on New Year’s Day.
Eight members of the squads which lost those matches are likely to feature on Saturday, and Johnson says: “It wouldn’t be normal for a professional footballer who played in those two games, if they didn’t want to put the record straight, as it were.
“You do sense those lads want to do that.
“Of course, half the team didn’t play in those games, and I didn’t bring them in just for Yeovil – we are hopefully stronger now for every team we play against.
“We are a lot more experienced team now than we were last year. “
United take a six-point lead into a game against a Yeovil side which reached the Play Offs last season, but only recently registered its first league win this time.
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After a midweek which saw pre-season title favourites Stockport have two men sent off in a 4-0 thrashing at Hartlepool, Johnson stressed: “It’s a very important period for us.
“We can’t keep waiting for other teams to do us a favour. We have to take advantage of those type of results.
“Over the years, when a team gets twice as many points as games, they win the league.
“We’re doing that at the moment, but everyone else will be wanting to stop us every week from now on.”
Of Yeovil, Johnson added: “We know what they do, and how they’ve decided to play over the last few weeks to pick up some points.”
The build-up to this game – it’s followed by a short trip to Weymouth on Monday – has been clouded by Covid-19 worries.
Yeovil were excluded from an FA Trophy tie at Boreham Wood this week because a couple of test results didn’t come through in time – Wood will now meet Torquay in Round Four on January 19.
But, apart from the last match of Asa Hall’s suspension and a handful of ongoing injuries, Johnson has no new issues to worry him.
His past links with Yeovil are obvious, but emphatically in the past.
The current Glovers’ team includes ex-United right-back Danny Leadbitter as well as former Plainmoor loanee forwards Rhys Murphy and Joe Quigley.
The Gulls’ winger Ben Whitfield also enjoyed a spell at Huish Park earlier in his career.
Murphy and Quigley can certainly put themselves about, and United were outmuscled in both games last season. Town are at their most dangerous at set-pieces.
But Johnson hopes that, even without Hall, his team is better equipped to cope with that threat now.
The performance in the 1-0 Trophy win at Chesham United last Saturday was good enough to do the job, but it’s unlikely to have shaken up selection thoughts too much, beyond confirmation that midfielder Armani Little and left-back Dean Moxey are very much back in contention.
On paper, three holiday games against teams in the bottom-three looks an inviting prospect. But, as always, chickens should only be counted after they’ve been gathered in, not before…