Aldershot Town take a break from National League action on Saturday as they travel to Devon to play Gary Johnson’s Torquay United in the FA Trophy.
Rob Worrall previews the action;
Earlier this week, Shots Manager Danny Searle confirmed the signing of Motherwell forward Craig Tanner on a deal until the end of the season. Searle will assess the fitness of Ethan Chislett, James Rowe and Mo Bettamer – all of whom missed the trip to Barrow last weekend due to illness or injury – prior to naming his matchday squad for the trip to Plainmoor. Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong is still sidelined, meanwhile long-term absentee George Fowler remains out with a recurrence of last season’s knee injury.
Name: Torquay United FC
Nickname: The Gulls
Manager: Gary Johnson
Stadium: Plainmoor (6,500)
2018/19: Promoted as National League South Champions
Torquay United were formed in 1899 and elected to the Football League in 1927. In 1954 they changed their club colours to Gold & Blue, to reflect the resort (aka the English Riviera) image of ‘sun, sand and sea’ and they remain the club colours until this day. On 29th January 1955, they set a record attendance at Plainmoor of 21,908, as they battled with Huddersfield Town in the 4th Round of the FA Cup. They stayed in the bottom two divisions of the Football League for more than 60 years, having to apply for re-election in consecutive seasons in the 1980’s and avoided relegation by the ‘skin of their teeth’ in 1986-87, scoring in injury-time of their final match to secure safety. They finished bottom in 1995-96 but again avoided relegation to the Vauxhall Conference, due to Stevenage’s ground not being up to Football League Standards. The Gulls eventually lost their 80-year Football League status in April 2007, only to regain it in 2009 and lose it again in 2014. In 2018, they were relegated again, to the National League South.
The Gulls have previously reached the final of the FA Trophy. In May 2008, they lost at Wembley to Ebbsfleet United, who had – ironically – beaten Aldershot Town in the Semi-Finals.
Gary Johnson took charge of the Gulls in September 2018, bringing with him a wealth of managerial experience, having previously guided Yeovil Town, Bristol City and Cheltenham Town to various promotions. It proved to be a successful appointment as Johnson led The Gulls to the National League South title in his first season, gaining promotion as Champions to this season’s National League.
Johnson kept faith with nine of last season’s playing squad, and his star striker Jamie Reid leads the National League goal scoring charts at present, with sixteen goals to date. Midfielder Jake Andrews – on loan from Bristol City last season, has signed for the Gulls on permanent terms now and he is the club’s second top scorer with five goals presently. Former Aldershot Town loanee Asa Hall usually skippers The Gulls. A key signing in the summer was that of Woking midfielder Armani Little and more recently, Johnson has brought in Ben Whitfield, a midfielder from Port Vale and he has already netted four times.
Saturday’s referee is Gary Parsons, who has taken charge of 10 matches at National League level this season, having shown 35 yellow cards and 2 red cards to date.
Whilst there is no BBC Surrey Sport commentary on Saturday, it is anticipated that live online commentary will be available from BBC Devon Sport.