by : Colin Illingworth
It really was too good to be true. Unbeaten in five, Torquay United travelled to Bournemouth looking to put some clear distance between themselves and MK Dons. A 3-0 drubbing though by the Cherries has dragged the Gulls back into the thick of it. Wins over Peterborough and Doncaster have been accompanied with draws against Swindon, Wrexham and Bradford, and given the fans a real sense of hope. Now just two points clear of MK Dons, rejuvenated under Danny Wilson, the Devon side face a battle to the end but the fans are still confident that Plainmoor side can extend their stay in League One.
“I am reasonably confident that we can avoid relegation,”
Says Chris Fleet, vice chairman of Torquay United Supporters Club.
“I think that despite a rocky start we have the determination in the squad to keep playing our passing game and will hopefully be safe before the last game of the season.”
Torquay are currently level with Oldham and just two points behind Blackpool and Port Vale so they are not down and out yet. Recent results have proved that they can cut it with the best of them in League One but Andrew Senneck, secretary for the TUSC, would like to see a bit of consistency from the team.
“Everytime we seem to have a good run and start pulling away, the teams below us seem to emulate this and catch us up again, piling yet more pressure on us. I seem to recall at one point we were about six points clear of the drop zone and nine points off the play offs, and this led to some comical banter about us being three wins from the play offs, but then we had a slip up and dropped back down towards the bottom four.”
The Gulls travel to Barnsley hoping to get a result that will keep them out of the bottom four, a far cry from last season. They enjoyed their best season in years last year as they gained automatic promotion on the last day on goal difference after beating Southend 2-1 while Huddersfield could only draw at Cheltenham. Nobody could begrudge them their place in League One but the manager and the fans were under no illusions that life with the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Luton and Hull, was going to be anything but hard. The fans remained confident though that they had enough quality to prove themselves at a higher level.
“It was always going to be difficult to emulate last season,”
“When you consider it was the first automatic promotion for 40 years experienced at Torquay, the new season in League One was still a bit of a blur as we were still coming to terms with it all.”
The season started with an away draw at Bristol City and some fans believed they were to carry on their promotion winning form. This belief was short lived though as Sheffield Wednesday and Hull inflicted huge defeats over them. In fact it took the Gulls eight games before they managed to get their first three points of the season under their belts with a 2-0 away victory over Stockport and, if anything, it has been their away form that has kept them afloat this season.
Although they’ve only won three times on the road they have only lost six, which is better than second placed Hull, while Colchester and Torquay share the worst home record in the league, besides rock bottom Stockport. Leroy Rosenior has managed two wins and a draw from the last three home fixtures and Andrew Senneck believes the clubs future could go right to the wire.
“To be honest, I am probably about 50-50 at this stage,”
“At the start of the season, I wasn’t sure what to expect and deep down, thought we were going to struggle a lot more. As the season has gone on, we have managed to grind out some good results but then there have also been times when we have looked a bit ropey. One concern is that our away record has been better than the home record. Maybe because the team feel under more pressure to do well at home, who knows? If I HAD to give an opinion, I think we have the squad to survive but it will probably depend on results around us as we have a tricky month coming up and I think it will go right to the last day.”