Torquay United manager Gary Johnson - Credit: Pinnacle

TUFC: Remembering what happened at Ashton Gate one year ago

Dave Thomas

One of these days, we might come to terms with what happened at Ashton Gate a year ago. But not any time soon.

We might get our heads round how Torquay United were the best team in the National League for most of the season, until a spate of injuries slowed them. And how they recovered to finish second, the cruellest place in English football.

And how they then swept Notts County aside 4-2 on a roaring day at Plainmoor to reach the Play-Off Final against a Hartlepool United side which had finished four points behind them.

And we might understand how they gave that life-changing match to a referee who seemed determined to show everyone why he'd just been promoted to the EFL list.

And how he disallowed two headed goals which, if they were repeated each week, would rule out almost every header in every goalmouth on Planet Earth.

And how he proved himself wrong, when all seemed lost, by allowing that barely believable equaliser in stoppage-time by, of all people, United's Brazilian goalkeeper Lucas Covolan.

Referee Simon Mather was wrong, because there was far more pushing and shoving before Covolan's goal than there had been for either of those earlier Kyle Cameron headers.

But he didn't disallow that one. He didn't dare.

And how we suddenly believed that Torquay's name was on that Play-Off Trophy. And we were going back into the Football League at long last. And with a damn good side to boot.

We might be able to shrug our shoulders at the memory of how, just as the Gulls were coming on strong in extra-time, that long hold-up for Jake Andrews' gashed shin halted their momentum.

And then that desperate, crazy penalty shoot-out. How Covolan managed to save the first two Hartlepool spot-kicks. And still it wasn't enough.

We might get over it all. One day. But not yet.

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