Manager of the Month Johnson aiming to take Gulls into second round
Armed with the National League South Manager of the Month award, Gary Johnson will try to extend his unbeaten start as the Gulls’ boss to ten games – and boost their FA Cup earnings under him to a cool £85,000 – when divisional rivals Woking come to Plainmoor today.
A club that appeared to have lost its confidence and direction has had both restored since Johnson took over in mid-September, and he struck exactly that note when he said in the build-up to the first round tie: “I am hoping it’s one club together at the moment, where we are all thinking the same thoughts, and not too many negative ones.”
Johnson dedicated the October award to ‘everyone involved with the club during this time’ and now, of course, he has to try and make sure he doesn’t fall victim to that old Manager of the Month ‘curse’, which has often seemed to end the runs of form which earned it for other recipients.
For the record, United beat Eastbourne Borough (4-2), Wealdstone (3-0) and drew with Weston-super-Mare (2-2) all away in the league and knocked Brightlingsea Regent (3-0) and Winchester City (4-1) out of the Cup during October.
Johnson is hoping that a couple of his injured players will be restored to fitness, although he refused to say which ones. On-loan Bristol City loan duo Jake Andrews (knee) and Opi Edwards (thigh) would certainly be welcomed back into the attack by Gulls fans.
Definitely out is midfielder Samir Nabi, who is suspended for this match after his appeal against a ‘handball’ sending-off at Weston recently was rejected by the FA.
Also absent during a loan at Oxford City for the past month, forward Bobson Bawling has now joined City permanently after having his United contract cancelled by mutual consent.
With seven substitutes allowed, 16-year-old striker Olaf Koszela and maybe one other Academy starlet are poised to be named on the bench for a second successive match.
The Gulls and the Cards meet six weeks after they drew 2-2 at Plainmoor in Johnson’s first home match.
Woking led 2-0 at the interval before two Jamie Reid goals pegged them back, and Johnson recalled: “In the first half they looked like Barcelona and in the second half we did.
“Since then they have made a few changes to their squad, and we certainly have.
“I think it will be a good match. They have some decent footballers, and I think we have as well.
“I always look at what the opposition would think [about a draw] – maybe they would be a bit more disappointed than us, because they’ve got to travel and we haven’t. There’s no league points, but there’s pressure because you both want to go through, and everyone associated with the club wants to go as far as we can.”
Since the league meeting, Woking have added at least two influential players, one whom United know very well.
Centre-half Ben Gerring is Torquay born-andbred and played for his hometown club before moving on to Truro, Billericay and now Woking, while young Nottingham Forest loanee Toby Edser has proved a lively figure in midfield recently.
Experienced centre-forward Jake Hyde gave United plenty of problems in the first meeting, and scored a classy goal, and it’s probably true to say that both teams are currently stronger in attack than they are in defence.
The referee is Declan Bourne from Nottinghamshire.
Meanwhile, United’s youngsters will travel to Maidenhead United in the second round of the FA Youth Cup on Monday night.
Win there and there is the prize of a home tie against Nottingham Forest in the third round of the competition.
Torquay manager Gary Johnson was named National League South Manager of the Month for October after an unbeaten start to his time at Plainmoor