We could all sense that Christmas was imminent; the hotly-anticipated (or dreaded) family reunions all approaching at once – last week Plymouth, now Torquay. The atmosphere at St James Park before and during the match last Saturday was electric and it is likely to be the same at Plainmoor this weekend.
Indeed, the Gulls will be looking to avenge themselves for the last time they met City, which surely many of you remember was a mightily poignant day. It was during darker times, the 2007/08 Conference National season; however both Exeter and Torquay had reached the play-offs. The two sides met during the semi-finals, and Torquay looked to be coming away with a huge advantage having taken three points from the Park over the first leg.
Yet with 20 minutes to spare during the return leg, and with Torquay leading 1-0 on home soil, the Grecians produced a heroic comeback with four-goal rampage to triumph 5-3 on aggregate, something that will live long into the memory. If you need any reminder of how that day looked like then just click here
The next season Torquay did successfully regain their Football League status, as a 2-0 victory against Cambridge United ensured promotion. In fact the Gulls have made a number of trips across the M3 to Wembley over the last few years (defeat on both occasions): reaching the FA Trophy final against Ebbsfleet in 2008 and most recently the final of the League 2 play-off against Stevenage. Manager Martin Ling will be hoping that this year he can take Torquay one step further and finally break the team’s duck.
Talking of Martin Ling, some of the older City supporters may recall that the ex-midfielder started out his own playing career with Exeter City between 1983 and 1987. Torquay’s backup goalkeeper Martin Rice can likely empathise with this, having done exactly the same from 2003 to 2007; racking up a grand total of 54 matches in the process. The Gulls go into this crunch match in 11th place on 32 points, trailing Exeter by four places and a mere two points.
This match could potentially have an important bearing on how the standings look for the Devon pair at the end of the weekend. Torquay may feel a little deflated after conceding a last-minute equaliser at home to Northampton last weekend, but Exeter will no doubt have to keep an eye on top scorer Rene Howe. With scintillating away form, the Grecians will surely believe that they can go one better than they did following their draw against Plymouth, so both teams will likely feel that they have a great chance to oust the other.
Exeter City’s allocation of tickets for this fixture have now completely sold out. And please don’t forget to check the weather forecast and the website to keep an eye out for updates, should the game potentially be called off. The Estates team from City headed down to Plainmoor on Friday to help clear the pitch, and hopefully that’ll mean Saturday’s game will go ahead as intended.
for official Exeter City travel club details for the trip to Plainmoor.
Here’s to a great match and three points for Exeter!