Back behind closed doors, Torquay United will kick off their 2021 promotion push tomorrow with an away game at Yeovil Town – the team they beat 6-1 at Plainmoor on Boxing Day.
Despite a smattering of injury problems, Torquay then won the second of their festive National League fixtures at Weymouth 4-3 – so nine points from the Christmas and New Year schedule would be a great way to go into the new year.
The Gulls are currently 11 points clear of second-placed Hartlepool United and manager Gary Johnson couldn’t be happier.
“Obviously we are very happy with the results from the last two games,” he said. “It was the manner of the wins that I was really pleased with. I am very proud of what the lads have done in those games.
“But those games are done now and you have got to try and keep it going for the next few games. In this day and age, with the situation we are all in, when you get a game it is very important to win it.”
Indeed, it is paramount that Torquay stay ahead of the chasing pack, not just because they want to be at the top at the end of the season, but also because they want to be top if the season is curtailed. Last season, Barrow were top when the National League halted proceedings because of the coronavirus pandemic – and they were then promoted without having to kick a ball again.
But Yeovil will be no pushovers and the manager is well aware of that. They might be in the relegation zone but they had won their first game of the season before coming to Torquay, and their second win came at home against Aldershot Town last Monday. It was a comfortable 3-0 win too but former Torquay player Joe Quigley got himself sent off at the end so he won’t be available tomorrow.
Just who is available to Johnson will depend on injuries. The out-count is up to six if you include long-term injured parties Andrew Nelson and Liam Davies.
Armani Little, Billy Waters, Danny Wright and Ben Wynter have all been in the treatment room lately – and all of them missed the Weymouth win.
But form-wise, Torquay are a picture of good health, with 10 goals in two games from six different goalscorers. Connor Lemonheigh-Evans is playing out of his skin, but Johnson wasn’t about to single any one player out for more praise than any other when he spoke ahead of the game this week.
Johnson said: “Connor is playing very well – but he would be the first to admit that so are a lot of the other boys.
“They have come of age. They had a test year if you like at this level last season, and I am so pleased that people like Aaron Nemane, Ben Whitfield, Kyle Cameron and Connor have all played their part this season.
“They have all stepped up a level in their own game and Connor is one of those and when Connor is playing well – he is such a great athlete and good footballer – he can affect the game, very much so, and that’s what he is doing.
“So we are pleased with his form and along with the others we hope they can keep it going.
“It’s very early days and it is an uncertain world at the moment and we never know what is going to happen or what is around the corner, so as the games come up we have to make sure we are planning for them and giving our all in every single one.
“Credit to the boys, they have put in a great shift in the first third of the season.”