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  • Writer's pictureTUST

Fan Zone 23/03/2023




Torquay United Women served up a Mothering Sunday treat as they head for promotion.

In a season to forget with only four home victories in National League fixtures for the faithful to watch, the 404 who attended Sunday’s match at Plainmoor saw the Torquay United Women’s side keep up their push for the title with a 2-1 win over Sherborne Ladies.

Credit to the club’s directors for opening up the ground for this vital game and their decision was justified with the turn-out. There was even a special programme available which was a nice touch.

The game itself was a match of two halves as United virtually dominated the first half camped in their opponents’ half and were rewarded with two quality goals from strikers Esme Kilburn - Thompson and, in time added on, Connie Pengelly, who was named as Player of the Match. They very nearly scored a third but Mia Preston’s shot come cross bounced back off the crossbar.

The second half was a different matter with Sherborne pushing forward in greater numbers reducing the arrears from a corner leading to a nervy period as United failed to get a foothold.

However, Steve Elswood’s side held out to keep the pressure on leaders Bristol Rovers.

As Elswood said after the game, “Emma (Ayres, the goalkeeper) made two title winning saves,” when Sherborne threatened to snatch an equaliser near the end.

With a game in hand and two matches to play, the title is very much in the girls’ hands.


Sadly, the same cannot be said of Gary Johnson’s side. A 1-1 draw at fellow strugglers Gateshead on Saturday may have stopped the run of defeats but draws are no use as only wins will see the Gulls close the gap on those above them.

With only nine fixtures left a return to regional football is looking inevitable unless the manager and players can develop promotion form. Whilst in theory the great escape is still mathematically possible, only wins will do.

Is there still room for any further additions? The club now has six loanees and only five can be used on a match day and the National League transfer window closed on Thursday. Could there be a striker out there who could sign on non-contract terms and be an option on the bench?

Well, the answer is yes as striker Frank Nouble signs for the rest of the season having been released by Colchester United last week. Let’s hope his experience and fitness hit the ground running.


One bright note from the long trip north was the inclusion of Southampton loanee, Nico Lawrence, in the Non-League Paper’s Team of the Day while Kieron Evans was named in the Vanarama Team of the Week. And credit to the 173 who swelled the gate to just over 1,000. Full marks to the Away Travel Club.

Very few United players have stood out this season but Mark Halstead has saved the day on more than one occasion. In relation to the number of saves, he’s the sixth best National League keeper on 120 saves behind, in order, Laurie Walker (Barnet), Elliot Justham (Dag & Red), Sam Howes (Wealdstone), Luca Ashby-Hammond (Aldershot) and Grant Smith (Yeovil).


As National League South football beckons, on Saturday I went to watch Taunton Town take on Hemel Hempstead to assess the standard. Taunton are in their first season at the highest level in their history and following several postponements due to the weather and their cup runs, plus losing their last four home games, they find themselves hovering around the relegation zone.

Hemel, in their lime green away kit, were too street-wise for the home side who seem to have lost their way but Taunton have five games in hand. Taunton lost 2-1 in front of 718. Taunton did manage to win 1-0 at Welling on Tuesday night.


National League Crowd Watch: Southend, with further concerns off the pitch (more of this to follow) lost at home to Aldershot with a healthy 5,590 watching. Bromley had their biggest attendance for some time with Wrexham the visitors - 5,027 and York, despite their poor form, still had 4,409. Macclesfield’s journey back up the leagues gains momentum and their 3-2 win, the winner in time added on, was watched by 4,210.

At the last count Plymouth Argyle have sold 35,000 tickets for their Papa Johns Trophy final at Wembley.


News of two former Football League clubs, first Bury AFC. Back in October a vote to amalgamate the two Bury societies failed, had it succeeded it would have meant Bury returning to play their football at Gigg Lane.

The two societies - the Shakers Community Society Limited and the Bury Football Club Supporters Society Limited - were at loggerheads but now, following months of discussions, there seems hope that a joining together can be achieved. If successful the two societies will fold and a new Community Benefit Society will be set up. A merger will see the change of name to Bury Football Club. Early results of the vote will be known on Friday May 5.

Should the vote be successful there is funding in place, totalling £1.3m which is to be used to upgrade the stadium and possibly the installation of a 3G pitch.

Meanwhile the Southend United saga took another twist last week when owner and chairman Ron Martin put the club up for sale. He has been a controversial figure running the club and the Shrimpers Trust have plans in place should they need to step in.


These two clubs are two of many who share uncertain futures and, in time, should benefit from the Government’s Fan-Led White Paper which is expected to be included in the King’s Speech in May. This could mean the Independent Regulator is in place for the 2024-25 season.

The fan-led review highlighted poor practice in a number of clubs including absentee or uncommunicative owners/directors, lack of transparency about how decisions are made and by whom and poor levels of communication with supporters. In order to rectify these the Government  is recommending that the Regulator will bring in a Football Club Corporate Governance Code; compliance will be needed for clubs to have a license to operate.


Saturday is Non-League Day as there is an international break with no Premier League and United take on Dagenham & Redbridge - only a home win will be good enough.

Your Player of the Season? To be honest not a lot of choice but early favourites are Mark Halstead and Aaron Jarvis.

England manager Gareth Southgate said last week there are a dwindling number of English registered players to pick from in the Premier League and so will have to look at Championship clubs. What’s your view? Too many foreign players in the top flight?

Your opinion to: or Twitter: @FanszoneT





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