It may not have quite the allure of last week’s Devon Derby, but the opportunity to get one over on one’s near neighbours is always one to relish, and it is with this in mind that City prepare for a second successive derby on Saturday. After a somewhat turgid display against Plymouth, Paul Tisdale may be tempted into changes, although he may stick to the same eleven bearing in mind City’s impressive form on the road this season. Matt Oakley is a particular injury concern after he limped off against Plymouth, and if he fails to make it Tisdale may bring in Jimmy Keohane, or Tom Doherty, should he be fit again after a few weeks on the sidelines.
Torquay, under the stewardship of former City midfielder Martin Ling (assisted by City legend Shaun Taylor), have endured something of a stop-start season so far having been installed as an outside bet for promotion, and currently sit 11th in the table. However, a win on Saturday would give the Gulls the Devon bragging rights as they would move above City. A combination of injury and suspension (Brian Saah) means they are light defensively, something Cureton, Gow and O’Flynn will look to exploit, but likewise City will have to be alert to prevent Rene Howe from causing havoc at the other end – the self-proclaimed “legend” has ten goals to his name so far this season. Strangely, given the clubs’ proximity, there is only one former City player likely to be in the matchday squad – Martin Rice, who has played a couple of games this season as understudy to Michael Poke in goal. On the other hand Steve Tully will as usual be determined to put one over the club that gave him his league debut all those years ago.
It has been a little while since the sides last met in a competitive fixture, but that particular game will live long in the memory, as City came from behind (3-1 down on aggregate with 20 minutes to play) to win 4-1 at Plainmoor and book their place at Wembley back in 2008. Steve Tully’s expletive-laden TV interview afterwards has also gone down in folklore! Probably less memorable was the last league fixture at Plainmoor in the Conference that season, a 1-0 win for the Gulls marked out mainly by the home side kicking Jamie Mackie off the park in what turned out to be the QPR star’s last match for City. Overall, in league matches since Torquay joined the Football League, City have the edge with 39 wins to Torquay’s 33 (30 draws). Let’s hope a full away end cheers City on to the 40th!
Information on the referee and his assistant can be found here