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Torquay United target a double over Maidstone

League and cup double-header hopes

Torquay United manager Gary Johnson goes into the first game of a Maidstone double-header at Plainmoor on Saturday focused on picking up points against one of United’s National League South promotion rivals.

Coincidentally the Kent side will be back at Torquay again the following Saturday, having been drawn out of the hat as United’s opponents in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup – the last hurdle before the league teams come in.

But Johnson knows they will be two very different games.

“Double headers are always interesting,” he said. “These are both competitions we want to do well in, and both teams will know a lot about each other over two games.

“They’re only a point behind us so it will be all about who turns up on the day – whose game comes out on the day – and then it’s a totally new game for the FA Cup.

“Both teams have the opportunity to turn the result around after the first game. They are both important games for both clubs. But I’m pleased we’re at home twice. We had a bit of luck with the cup draw.”

Torquay had the same thing happen last year, when Barnet came to Plainmoor in the FA Trophy and the league in successive weeks

The Gulls will go into battle on Saturday afternoon without two of their loan signings. Midfielder Will Jenkins Davies has gone back to Plymouth with an injury while forward Luke Pearce has gone back to Southampton after being unable to force his way into the Torquay side.

Johnson told reporters at his weekly press conference: “Will was unlucky because he got an injury that meant he would have been out for a few weeks. Hopefully when he gets fit again we’ll try and get him back.

“Luke wanted the experience of fighting for a first team place, and we can’t promise him one because of the form of Brad Ash and Aaron Jarvis. It was difficult to start him in the team. Southampton were pleased with the minutes he had, but he needs to be playing football and decided he’d be better off trying to find somewhere where he is getting a good 90 minutes every week.”

The visit of Maidstone will give United fans a chance to watch one of their former heroes in action. Goalkeeper Lucas Covolan, who scored a memorable equaliser in a play-off final for the Gulls against Hartlepool at Ashton Gate, now wears the colours of the Stones.

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