Friday, 16 August 2013

PREVIEW: Torquay Away (17/08/13)

Oxford head down to Torquay looking to build on their 100% start to the league campaign. The yellows went top of the league on goals scored after last week's 2-1 win over Bury, but having been in this position at the same point last year most fans are all too aware how early in the season we still are.

It's still an unusual position for us to be in though, having scored six goals in our opening two games – we only scored 59 in 46 games last season. That could all come to an end this afternoon, however, as Torquay's matches so far this season have all been low-scoring affairs, with 1-1 draws in the league against Wimbledon and Morecambe sandwiching a 1-0 League Cup defeat to Swindon. Alan Knill typically sets up his sides to be difficult to break down and it seems that this Torquay team are no different. Although they've not yet been hitting the net with tremendous regularity themselves so far, they could be boosted by the return of Elliot Benyon from a head injury which ruled him out of the Morecambe game last night. Also possibly returning for the Gulls is goalkeeper Michael Poke, while young prospect Dan Sullivan could be one to watch after he made his senior debut last weekend and scored twice in a friendly against Cheltenham during the week.

As for ourselves, while Chris Wilder is often criticised for tinkering too much with the team, it seems he is keen at this stage to keep a settled lineup, so expect minimal changes from the side which has impressed against Bury and Portsmouth. Dave Kitson is obviously a doubt after being on the receiving end of some rough treatment last week but other than that expect the side to look more or less the same as we've seen in the last couple of weeks.

The only player likely to feature with a connection between the two sides is Torquay's Lee Mansell, who spent one miserable season at the Kassam when the club was relegated to the Conference, though he was voted player of the season at the end of it all. Unfortunately for him, Mansell then suffered relegation to the Conference again the following season with Torquay, though this time he stuck around and has remained a vital player for the Gulls ever since, helping them back into the Football League in 2009. He has featured in all of Torquay's games so far, so expect to see him once again in midfield for the hosts this time around.

Torquay boss Alan Knill is also an old friend of Chris Wilder's. He was manager of Bury while Wilder was assistant there, so expect a touching reunion this weekend...

Torquay are always a club I think of as something of a bogey team, but that's not something which appears to be backed up by the record books. Oxford are currently unbeaten against Torquay in the last five meetings between the two sides. Our last trip to Plainmoor was a happy one, as we came away with an impressive 3-1 win, though the Gulls held us to a frustrating 0-0 draw at the Kassam last season.

From the Vaults

Torquay United v Oxford United, 10th December 2005

We've had some great matches down the years at Torquay, and this was one of the most spectacular. As mentioned above, the 2005-06 season was not a happy one for Oxford, but in the opening exchanges of this match everything finally clicked into place. Eric Sabin was looking a world-beater and soon bagged himself a brace, while a penalty from Lee Bradbury put the U's 3-1 up inside the first 20 minutes. Of course it wouldn't last, and Torquay struck back to reclaim a 3-3 draw. Still we'll always have this rare moment of genius from Sabin!

You can find this and many other old OUFC matches in our NEW & IMPROVED VIDEO VAULT!

Also This Weekend

Fans who get to Torquay early can catch an Oxford double-header this weekend. The youth team are also away at Torquay as they look to build on their 3-2 victory over Swindon on the opening day of the season. The match kicks off at 11am, leaving plenty of time to get to Plainmoor to watch the first team, so if you can get there don't miss it! The address of the ground is as follows:

Cullompton RFC
Speeds Meadow
EX15 1DW

The ladies team are also in action this weekend as they host Sporting Club Albion (aka West Brom) of the WPL North in a friendly on Sunday. They lost 2-0 in a friendly away at Nottingham Forest last weekend, so they'll be looking for a reaction this time around. Kick-off is 2pm on Sunday at Roman Way.

Don't forget you can find full fixture lists for ladies, development and youth teams on our Fixtures page!

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