With his side in rampant form following a 100% start to 2013, Paul Tisdale embarks on the first of three successive “derbies” (if the 70 miles or so up the M5 to Bristol on Saturday can be regarded as such) with a rearranged visit to Torquay, a side whose form appears to be heading in the opposite direction. Form, however, counts for nothing on derby days, so Tisdale knows his team must perform to the top of its capabilities at Plainmoor. Tisdale made a change on Saturday for the thumping of Southend, with Arron Davies earning a recall, and the main selection conundrum will presumably concern whether he keeps his place or whether Tisdale opts for extra muscle in the midfield in the shape of Tom Doherty. Jamie Cureton again misses out, serving the final match of his suspension.
Torquay, under the management of former City midfielder Martin Ling (assisted by City legend Shaun Taylor), probably wish the game took place on the 22nd, as the Gulls’ form has dipped in recent matches, in fact they have now won just two of their last ten league games, and none of their last five since a 2-1 win over Dagenham and Redbridge at the start of December. One reason for this could be the form of striker Rene Howe who, since starting the season on fire has now managed a solitary goal since the end of October. As a result Torquay now sit in 16th place in the table, albeit with games in hand over those immediately above them. This didn’t stop Martin Ling suggesting they should be looking at the bottom of the table rather than the top after their 2-1 defeat to Burton at the weekend. Strangely for two teams in such close proximity there will be only two players, one from each side, who has featured for the other club in their playing careers. Martin Rice is almost certain to be on the Torquay bench, while Steve Tully always relishes the opportunity to get one over on his former employers.
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!
There has been no changes to the officials, they are listed as per the original game.