A bloody Sunday!!
Match Preview: County v Torquay United
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County face another big test in the National League this weekend, as we face Gary Johnson’s 2nd place Torquay United in a promotion showdown at Edgeley Park, looking to move within two points of the Gulls.
Tuesday night’s stalemate at home to an in-form Dagenham & Redbridge side saw us lose ground at the top of the table, as new league leaders Sutton United moved six points clear of us with three games to go after their 3-2 win at home to Woking.
We remain in third place with two games to go, two points clear of Hartlepool United in fourth – with a top three finish providing a potentially crucial advantage in the play-offs at the end of the season.
With this game now taking place on Sunday afternoon, live on BT Sport, we will already know the results of both Sutton and Hartlepool going into this game. Table toppers Sutton face a potentially tricky visit to Maidenhead United, whilst Hartlepool have the chance to climb back above us in the table when they travel to Aldershot Town.
Torquay were also in action on BT Sport last weekend, as they drew 0-0 at home to Bromley – a potentially costly result that saw them lose control of their own title destiny as they dropped off the top of the table, making this a must win game for them too.
Since we last met:
Our first meeting with the Gulls this season came all the way back on the opening day of the season at Plainmoor, where County were made to rue a host of missed chances when a stoppage-time strike from Welsh winger Connor Lemonhaigh-Evans secured all three points for the hosts.
County were left frustrated at Torquay last time out as the hosts pulled off a late smash and grab victory on the opening day of the season.
It was the beginning of a fine start to the season from Gary Johnson’s side, who marked themselves out as the early pacesetters in the National League with nine wins and just one defeat from their opening 11 league games to open up a five point gap at the top with a game in hand.
As was the case last season, a host of injuries to key first-team players resulted in a serious mid-season slump for Johnson’s side as a 0-0 draw at King’s Lynn Town began a run of just six wins from their subsequent 18 National League games, including defeats to Altrincham, Dagenham (twice) and a 4-1 hammering at Maidenhead.
That drop-off in form saw the Devon side drop down to third in the league table, at one point as many as ten points behind Sutton at the top of the table to leave their title hopes in question.
Paddy Madden’s goal on Tuesday night saw him take his tally to seven goals and three assists in his first 14 games for County.
Unlike last season, however, when the season was cut short, the Gulls have seen those injured players start to return, and unsurprisingly that has seen them return to the formidable form they showed at the start of the campaign.
They are currently on a ten game unbeaten run, winning eight of them, to storm back into title contention, sitting top of the table and with the title in their own hands until those dropped points against Bromley last weekend.
The hallmark of their season has been an incredible ‘never say die’ attitude that has seen them score an incredible 18 goals in the final ten minutes of games this season, with those goals earning them an additional 24 points over the course of the campaign – a run that all started against County on the opening day.
Ryan Rydel marked his full County debut on Tuesday night with a Man of the Match display down the left-hand-side.
The man who got the winner that day, Lemonheigh-Evans, has been one of Torquay’s star men this season, chipping in with nine crucial goals – including four in his last eight games. Up front, veteran forward Danny Wright is a constant handful, whilst former Shrewsbury and Cheltenham midfielder Asa Hall has chipped in with ten goals so far this campaign.
- Of our 69 competitive meetings with Torquay, County have emerged victorious 22 times to their 29. Our last home win against the Gulls came back in October 2006, when a goal from Adam Le Fondre earned County a 1-0 win.
- Torquay currently have the second best away record in the National League behind only County, picking up 39 points from their 19 games on the road this season.
- Avoiding defeat here would see us make it 16 league games unbeaten, equalling our longest unbeaten run in non-league (also 16 in 2018/19)
Our Match Sponsor for this game will be Beeline Coaches. We’d like to take the opportunity to thank them for their fantastic support throughout the season.
In association with LV Bet.