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FAN ZONE 21/10/2022



Torquay United’s latest Community Day project saw almost 1,000 grassroots teams welcomed to Plainmoor for free entry thanks to sponsors Wollens, with notable, audible numbers of children keeping up an almost incessant chanting of support urging the team to what seemed, after a shocking first half which rightly saw the side booed off, an improbable thrilling draw.

And what a match to choose to provide eight goals, a penalty save, a red card and a blockbuster of an equaliser in the dying seconds as United sent everyone, including keeper Rhys Lovett, up for one last hope of the latest of late ‘Gary Time’ goals.

All this in front of the BT Sport cameras with the commentators saying at the end they would need to go and lie down in a darkened room!

United were fortunate to be changing ends at only 2-0 down when in truth it should have been more, maybe not quite as many as Altrincham’s Number 8 Josh Lundstram said to me as we walked back to their team coach, “It should have been seven.” Whilst this might have been an exaggeration it should easily have been more than two and Phil Parkinson, the Alty manager, gave his side a rocket at half-term for not having done so. And they were later to regret not having put clear daylight between Torquay and themselves with a yet again mis-firing Gulls.

The match, though, was a dream for BT with the last ten minutes, plus the time added on, ‘edge of your seat’ moments once Tom Lapslie’s first touch put United 3-2 ahead in the 81st minute. But then unfolded a breathtaking finale as 3-2 went to 3-3, 3-4 and then 4-4 in the 90th + 7. Asa Hall for his leadership and two goals made the Vanarama Team of the Week.


From comments he made after the game on TV, could Gary Johnson be about to bring some much needed recruits? He hinted this was in his mind for, as he says, plenty of these players have been given every opportunity to get up to speed in the National League. Time will tell.

And he seemed to confirm this in his weekly press call on Thursday as he’s looking for experience.


All this came after United overcame a stubborn Hampton & Richmond in last week’s FA Cup replay and very nearly blew meeting League 1 team Derby County, one of only a handful of teams the Gulls have never played in a competitive match.

Now, of course, we know it’s not only professional pride at stake but also the match is to be shown on ‘free-to-air’ ITV; what an incentive to get into Round 2.


Talking of getting into the next round of a cup competition, Women’s manager Steve Elswood has challenged his talented young squad to reach Round 3 of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup after they defeated Wootton Bassett in the 3rd Qualifying Round on Sunday.

Goals from Ocean Latto, Mia Preston, Tracey Cross and two from Ellie Bishop gave the women a 5-2 win setting up an away tie with Warminster Ladies next month.

This Sunday they have a league fixture at Bishop’s Lydeard. TUST is pleased to announce that it is one of the main sponsors of the women’s side for the season.

What about Arsenal’s women’s team in the Barclays Women’s Super League? They recorded their twelfth successive victory without conceding a goal - pretty impressive.


Back to Saturday’s 4-4 draw - this was the fifth time in the history of the club, thanks to Torquay Fan Stats, that Torquay have been involved in a similar score line, the first being against Northampton in 1928 with the most ‘recent’ at Southport on September 28 1962.


FA Cup Replay Crowd Watch: Wrexham v Blyth Spartans 6,845, Chester v Oldham 3,651, Taunton Town won the Somerset derby 1-0, although it should have been more, in front of a sold out home attendance of 2, 347 while United were watched by 1,191 at Hampton. Saturday’s Non-League Crowd Watch: On the rise Macclesfield surprisingly lost at home by the only goal to 1874 Northwich but 3,597 were there to see it. Meanwhile, Wrexham’s away support continues to impress taking 1,107 to Boreham Wood contributing to breaking the home side’s attendance record, now standing at 2,536.

There were also big crowds at Notts County 6,765, Oldham 6,483, Chesterfield 5,909 and Southend 5,842.


Another win for Ryan Dickson’s Under-18s thanks to a hat-trick from Ben Aldous as Torquay’s young side ran out 3-1 winners at Swindon Supermarine.


Over time this column has brought you stories across the football spectrum, heading issues leading to dementia, the importance of the fan-led review - the promised White Paper is still on the cards - live streaming (about to return), the refereeing debate and many more.

Referees’ performances along with managers’ and players’ attitudes have been in the news even more this season so the FA have decided to act through introducing over the weekend of November 5-6, the “The National Silent Support Weekend”.

Spectators and coaches are being urged to stay completely silent at youth matches in efforts to tackle a rise in unpleasant touchline behaviour. The FA wants players to be allowed to make mistakes and make their own decisions with good play by either side applauded by those on the touchlines.

Those in breach of the guidelines “may be asked to leave the venue, meet with the club’s committee and/or welfare officer or asked not to attend future matches.”


Here’s a heart-warming story: I went to the Taunton v Yeovil FA Cup replay last Tuesday only to find the match sold out with no tickets on sale. Luckily, from standing behind a chain link fence, I spotted Chris Hargreaves who recognised me and despite about to go into the dressing room to give his team talk, he got on his phone and arranged for me to get a complimentary ticket. Top man Chris, thank you. (I know he reads this column).

Since then he’s lost his job at Yeovil. Football is a results business and there’s little sentiment in it.


Divided opinions about whether clubs should have earlier kick-offs. On the one hand this could prove expensive for the away clubs, for example factoring in overnight accommodation but on the other, readers Laurie Walker and Dave Stillman are in favour. Do you have a view? or Twitter: @FanszoneT

So, on Tuesday night depleted United were at Eastleigh hoping for at least a point but it was not to be and yet another penalty and red card before a daunting trip to Notts County on Saturday.

Safe journeys to all the Yellow Army on their travels this week.





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