Torquay United waiting for Altrincham and the League

Gary Johnson, manager of Torquay United. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Gary Johnson, manager of Torquay United. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK - Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

National League clubs and their supporters may have to wait yet another month before they know the fate of this season, but leaders Torquay United have more pressing concerns in the shape of surprise packets Altrincham at Plainmoor tonight (Tues).  

So convoluted was the wording of the League Board’s latest voting bulletin that they have had to issue a series of further messages to clear up at least some of the confusion.  

But the essence is that the 66 NL clubs now have until February 28 to vote on whether to end the season, and almost certainly stop promotion/relegation, or continue to a scheduled finish.  

Everybody carries on in the meantime, including the North and South divisions which will resume this weekend after a two-week suspension.  

Most of the ‘Premier’ clubs, with promotion to the EFL at stake for many of them, don’t want to stop. They definitely include Torquay and Altrincham.  

United manager Gary Johnson stresses: “The National League is a feeder league for the EFL, and we’ve got to make sure that we do all we can to keep it going.”  

Of Altrincham, whom few expected to be as high as sixth at this stage, Johnson says: “It’s no fluke – they are a decent, possession-based team, very comfortable on the ball, and they are going to be tough opposition.”  

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Johnson has left-back Dean Moxey available, after suspension counted him out of Saturday’s 2-0 win at Barnet, which carried United ten points clear.  

But so well did midfielder Adam Randell and new signing Joe Lewis do in full-back roles in north London that Johnson, even with Ben Wynter (hamstring) back in full training, has real options there.  

Promoted from the NL North last season and still largely part-time, Altrincham have just added two Canadian businessmen to their board, with future investment planned off, as well as on, the pitch.  

Manager Phil Parkinson’s side will be dangerous, not least because they have already taken 19 of their 30 points on the road.  

Matty Kosylo (Halifax, AFC Fylde) is a clever and feisty right-winger, the tall, well-travelled Byron Harrison and the in-form Josh Hancock form a lively strike force and Parkinson has also just added young ex-Wigan forward Joe Pigott to his squad.  

Other games for Gulls fans to keep an eye on include Halifax at home to second-placed Hartlepool, Stockport (3rd) against Sutton (4th) and Notts County (5th)-v-Bromley.