United head to North Wales on Saturday to take on Wrexham, in what is a crucial match for both sides.
With 39 points still to play for Gary Johnson’s men, a good run of form now could turn play-off aspirations into a distinct possibility, whilst the Welsh side will be also looking for a victory to aid their efforts in pulling away from the relegation zone.
Who’s The Boss?
Dean Keates returned to the Racecourse Ground last October, following the dismissal of manager Bryan Hughes. A hugely popular figure as a player at both Wrexham and his hometown club, Walsall, Keates made the step-up to manage both clubs. After taking his first steps into management in October 2016, he led The Dragons to a 13th place finish, before an upturn in fortunes saw the Midlands-based side come calling in March 2018 with Wrexham standing in 4th. His stint in charge at The Saddlers didn’t match his playing heroics though, and he left the club just over a year later.
How have they been doing?
The Welsh club have endured something of a hangover so far this campaign, following their play-off heartbreak last season, with the side entrenched amongst the relegation places during the early stages of the season. That form signalled the departure of previous boss Hughes, and although it took his replacement Keates some time to steady the ship, a recent upturn in results has seen the side edge their way out of the bottom four into 19th position with 39 points from 34 games.
Player to watch
Following the departure of top scorer Bobby Grant to League One Accrington Stanley, much of the goalscoring responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of former Havant & Waterlooville, Port Vale and Grimsby man JJ Hooper. After beginning his career at North-East giants Newcastle United, the Greenwich-born forward has honed his goalscoring talents at a number of clubs, most notably during a loan spell at divisional rivals Bromley last season, where his 14 goals in 22 league games earned him a move to The Red Dragons during close season.
Played For Both
Luke Young represented United with distinction for four years before leaving to join Bryan Hughes’ side in 2018. Born in Ivybridge and a product of Plymouth Argyle’s youth system, he made nearly 100 league appearances at Home Park, before arriving at Plainmoor. Despite suffering a number of injuries during his time with The Gulls, he remained the focal pint when fit, and made 133 National League appearances, many as captain, scoring 16 goals, including a unforgettable late volleyed winner against his current club in October 2014.
March 2017 saw the roles reversed at the Racecourse Ground, with the home side looking to mount a late play-off bid from a mid-table position, whilst Kevin Nicholson’s Torquay were locked in a nervy battle to retain their National League status. After a goalless first half, the match appeared to be heading Wrexham’s way shortly after the interval, with George Harry netting past Brendan Moore from the penalty spot. Twelve minutes from time The Gulls were also awarded a penalty, with Jamie Reid’s equally ruthless strike earning his team a valuable point in their ultimately successful bid to avoid the drop.
In Association with LV Bet
Vanarama National League | Wrexham Vs Torquay United | 15/02/20 3pm KO | My Racecourse, Mold Road, LL11 2AH
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