The Portsmouth-born player standing between Hawks and an FA Cup shock this weekend
A Portsmouth-born player could provide one of the biggest threats to Hawks’ chances of springing an FA Cup upset this weekend.
Midfielder Armani Little is Torquay United’s top scorer this season ahead of their fourth qualifying round tie at Plainmoor.
Little started his career with the Southampton Academy, and after being released in 2018 had spells with Oxford United and Woking before signing for Torquay two years ago.
The 24-year-old has netted five times in 2021/22 as the Gulls have made an indifferent start to the National League season after the heartbreaking end to last term.
Having reached the play-off final, they were a penalty shoot-out away from reclaiming the EFL place they surrendered in 2014 - losing to Hartlepool at Ashton Gate on spot-kicks after Gulls keeper Lucas Colovan had scored an injury-time leveller to force extra time.
Prior to that, Torquay led the National League for a large part of the season but were eventually overhauled by Sutton, finishing four points adrift.
Colovan (now at Port Vale) was one of a handful of players to leave Torquay in the summer - others being defenders Kyle Cameron and Aaron Nemane (both Notts County) and midfielder Ben Whitfield (Stockport County).
In addition, defender Sam Sherring (Bournemouth) and midfielder Adam Randall (Plymouth) both returned to their parent clubs.
Replacements have so far failed to gel and Torquay are currently 15th in the National League after back-to-back 2-0 losses at Boreham Wood and Bromley in their last two matches.
In the wake of the Bromley loss, boss Gary Johnson cancelled the squad’s day off last Sunday and brought them in for extra training and to watch the whole of the previous day’s game again on video.
With confidence in need of a boost around Plainmoor, he is not expected to ring the changes against Hawks and give fringe players a chance to impress.
He hasn’t got the biggest of squads to play with, in any case, and striker Danny Wright could still be sidelined with an ankle injury.
Wright’s two goals in last season’s play-off semi-final against Notts County helped the Gulls to the final, while Hawks fans may remember him scoring twice for Johnson’s Cheltenham when they drew 3-3 in an FA Cup tie at Westleigh Park in 2015.
Johnson deployed a three-man central defensive backline at Bromley of Ben Wynter, Joe Lewis and Dean Moxey with Dan Martin and Chiori Johnson as wing-backs.
Another ex-Cheltenham striker, Dan Holman, has been the lone striker in recent games with Connor Lemonheigh-Evans the link man behind Holman to the midfield.
Torquay lost their first three home league games of the season - to Altrincham (1-3), Woking (0-4) and Grimsby (1-3).
But they hammered Wealdstone 5-0 last time out with Holman grabbing his first two goals for the club and prior to that had beaten Southend 1-0 at Plainmoor with a last-minute Lemonheigh-Evans strike.
The last time Torquay lost at home in the FA Cup to lower division opposition came in 2012/13. Current Hawks captain Joe Oastler was on the Gulls bench as they were embarrassed by two divisions lower Harrogate Town.
Torquay were also beaten 1-0 by National League South outfit Maidstone two seasons ago.