After months of anticipation, the eagerly awaited clash between the National League South’s top two takes place on Saturday, as United head to Surrey to face Woking.
After five successive victories, Gary Johnson’s side have overtaken The Cards at the top of the league, with Tuesday night’s 3-1 win over Chelmsford City seeing United extend their advantage to seven points. Woking remain focussed on promotion themselves though, and the occasion will provide Torquay with possibly their toughest test to date.
Who’s the boss?
Gateshead-born Alan Dowson was appointed in May 2018, following the side’s relegation to National League South. After a playing career with the likes of Millwall, Bradford City and Darlington, Dowson enjoyed highly successful managerial spells with Walton & Hersham, Kingstonian and Hampton & Richmond Borough prior to succeeding Anthony Limbrick at the Laithwaite Stadium. Dowson’s coaching team includes ex Portsmouth and Fulham coach Ian Dyer and Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler.
How are they doing?
Having exchanged places with United throughout the season, Woking currently reside in second place, with 74 points from 37 games. The Cards recorded eight successive wins over the festive period, as they fought out league supremacy with United, and they remain well placed for an instant return to the National League. In addition to their excellent league form, the club gained national recognition for a superb FA Cup run, which culminated in a televised 3rd round FA Cup tie against Premier League Watford in January.
Players to watch
Max Kretzschmar rejoined Woking after following Dowson from Hampton & Richmond last summer, and his 13 goals this season would surely have been bettered, had the he not suffered an injury in January. Previously with Wycombe Wanderers, The attacking midfielder is the club’s leading scorer this season, and netted in last weekend’s 1-1 draw away to Bath City. Former Barnet striker Jake Hyde has been a prolific striker throughout a career which has also taken in the likes of Dundee, York and Maidenhead. A familiar adversary to Gulls’ fans, Hyde has also represented England at ‘C’ level.
One player in the Woking side will need no introduction to the Yellow Army, with Torbay-born Ben Gerring having made 31 National League appearances for The Gulls during 2015-2017. An experienced centre-back at non-league level, Gerring also represented Weymouth, Hayes & Yeading, Margate, Truro and Billericay before heading for Kingfield in October 2018.
Unlike the majority of United’s rivals this season, Torquay and Woking have been regular opponents over the past few years, with both sides winning five of their previous thirteen league encounters.
The two sides have already met twice this season, with Jamie Reid’s late double earning United a 2-2 draw in Johnson’s first home game as manager back in September. Just six weeks later, Woking were again the visitors to Plainmoor, and this time they secured a 1-0 win courtesy of a Kretzschmar penalty.
United’s last win at Kingfield came back in December 2007, as Paul Buckle’s side secured a 1-0 victory, thanks to a Tim Sills penalty.
Please note that the entire allocation of tickets for Torquay fans have SOLD OUT.
Full live commentary of the match will be available from 3pm on Saturday here.