TUFC: Players return from injury for Barnet match

Torbay Weekly

The formbook says that Torquay United have come a long way in the three months since they lost 2-1 at Barnet on November 20, but they need to prove the point if they want to continue their drive towards the National League Play-Offs against the Bees at Plainmoor on Saturday (3pm).

The Gulls had shown signs of revival back in the autumn, only to falter in successive defeats by Barnet, Aldershot Town and FC Halifax Town, and this week manager Gary Johnson was quick to describe the game in north London as 'a poor day for us'.

"We didn't do enough and, hopefully, we can put the record straight and play well," he said.

One thing Johnson has now, which he didn't in November, is a fit squad - Chiori Johnson, Joe Felix and Keelan O'Connell didn't even make the bench for last Saturday's 3-1 win at Dover.

That victory also marked the return after injury of Danny Wright, who enjoyed 20 minutes as a sub in the second half, but United are still treading carefully with their veteran centre-forward, especially with high-riding Boreham Wood also here on Tuesday night.

Having said that, it looks like 'muck-and-nettles' weather at the weekend, and someone like Wright may be just what's required in those conditions.

As Johnson also said: "A manager and his staff can't work in hindsight.  Everybody is a good manager after the event - I understand that, but I've never been afraid to make difficult decisions."

Whichever way you look at it, seven wins and 22 points from the last ten games makes good reading for Gulls fans, and it's set up for an intriguing few days.

When they beat United last time, Barnet were in their best run of the season - they also won at Stockport 2-1 in that spell.

But only now, with one win in nine matches, have they just named Dean Brennan as permanent head coach.

Brennan, who had replaced Harry Kewell on a temporary basis in September, has been busy over recent days.

Not only has he signed striker Louis Walsh from Southend, but he's also named John Dreyer - he played for Torquay on loan from Oxford United back in 1985 - as his assistant.

Forwards like Adam Marriott, Rob Hall and Mitch Brundle are always able to cause problems, but the recent absence of Ephron Mason-Clark has robbed Barnet of one of their most talented and pacy attackers.

Brennan is already talking about building for next season, and he has been trying to follow up the Walsh deal with another couple of signings before the weekend.