Torquay United coming through unscathed

Joe Lewis of Torquay United battles for the ball with Omar Bugiel of Sutton United during the Nation

Joe Lewis of Torquay United battles for the ball with Omar Bugiel of Sutton United during the National League match between Torquay United and Sutton United at Plainmoor Torquay, Devon on Tuesday 26th January 2021 - PHOTO: Dave Crawford/PPAUK - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

Torquay United manager Gary Johnson was philosophical after the ten-man Gulls completed back-to-back 0-0 draws against National League promotion rivals with a goalless stalemate against second-placed Sutton United at Plainmoor.  

Sutton boss Matt Gray tellingly confirmed his disappointment that the Ambers had not capitalised after defender Dean Moxey’s two-card dismissal in the 56th minute.  

In fact, you’d hardly have known that the Gulls were a man short for more than half-an-hour.  

But Johnson, whose side also drew 0-0 at Notts County at the weekend, said: “We would like to have played better, but we’ve played two of our toughest games and come out unscathed.  

“Both teams would have wanted more than they got against us, and we have kept them both at bay.”  

The Gulls, who rushed through the permanent signing of last season’s loanee defender Joe Lewis from Swansea City just in time for him to play at right-back, saw Moxey harshly booked by referee Lewis Smith in the first half and then sent off for a second caution.  

“I’m not sure that the third team out there had their best game ever,” commented Johnson, adding: “I like to be entertained at a football match, but it was just a battle.  

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“Every time there was a challenge, it seemed to be a foul, and the game was too bitty to enjoy.  

“We had to compete, and individuals worked very, very hard, but we didn’t bring our best game out.  
“The players have got the ability in there, but they’ve got to do things quicker, sharper and cleverer – all the things we didn’t quite do tonight.  

“The lads know that, they are disappointed and they agreed with what I said. We’ve got to step it up at Barnet on Saturday.”  

Johnson described Lewis, 21, as ‘a great signing’, saying: “We knew him and he knew us from last season, which is why I knew I could throw him straight in.  

“He showed how versatile he is, playing at right and left-back, and I was really pleased with his performance.”  

United’s nine-point lead is intact ahead of their trip to the Bees, who slipped to the bottom of the table with a 3-0 defeat at fellow struggles Dover.  

But a cloud continues to hang over the National League season. There is talk of a vote to decide whether the campaign should carry on – the North and South divisions are already in a two-week suspension amid a funding row – but Torquay are one of a majority of Premier clubs who appear keen to keep playing.