Gary Johnson’s side face the second part of their home double-header on Tuesday evening, with Eastleigh the latest side to visit Plainmoor.
A victory for United would see four points gleaned from the two fixtures, and leave them well placed for an assault on the play-off places. They will though, have to overcome a side which has made steady progress over the least few seasons, to establish themselves as a real force in the National League.
Who’s the boss?
After a brief five games as interim manager, Ben Strevens was named permanent Eastleigh boss in November 2018.
Strevens played over 100 times for the Spitfires as a player and his talent on the field has continued off it, as he was successful in taking Eastleigh all the way to the National League play-off semi-final last season.
As a player, Ben made his name as a goalscoring midfielder for a number of league and non-league clubs including Barnet, Dagenham, Wycombe and Eastleigh.
How have they been doing?
After securing the National League’s last play-off berth last season with a 7th-placed finish, former Gull Danny Holland’s extra-time winner at Wrexham had Spitfires dreaming of a first ever season in the EFL. However, heartbreak was to follow at the semi-final stage, as they lost out in a penalty shoot out to Salford City. They have already claimed a couple of notable scalps in the opening stages of the current campaign, with both Notts County and Solihull Moors experiencing defeat against the Hampshire-based side. A televised 3-1 defeat away to AFC Fylde last Saturday left them in lowly 20th position though, just one place above the relegation zone.
Player to watch
27 year-old cultured midfielder Jack Payne joined the club on a permanent basis in the summer, following a successful spell on loan from National League rivals Ebbsfleet last season. After playing over 100 games in the Football League for Gillingham, Payne extended his EFL career with the likes of Peterborough, Leyton Orient and Blackpool before dropping into the non-league ranks at Ebbsfleet.
Played for both
Scott Rendell, now 32, enjoyed a productive season for Paul Buckle’s Gulls side during 2009 / 10, on loan from Peterborough United. His 12 goals in 35 League Two games helped secure United’s league status, before he went on to represent the likes of Wycombe, Luton, Woking and Aldershot.
Since doing the double over the Spitfires during the 2014/15 season, Torquay have endured a lean spell against Eastleigh. On Tuesday they will be looking to rekindle memories of their first league encounter, when goals from Toby Ajala and Ryan Bowman secured Chris Hargreaves’ a 2-0 victory at Plainmoor.