Buckle has another taste of play-offs

FORMER Colchester United midfielder Paul Buckle is no stranger to the joy and the misery that surrounds the lottery of the play-offs.

Carl Marston

FORMER Colchester United midfielder Paul Buckle is no stranger to the joy and the misery that surrounds the lottery of the play-offs.

Buckle was in Steve Wignall's Colchester team that beat Torquay 1-0 in the old Division Three play-off final of 1998, thanks to David Gregory's penalty at Wembley.

But just four years before, Buckle had tasted heart-ache when he lost in the play-off semi-finals to Preston, while on the books of Torquay.

Now Buckle will experience the thrills-and-spills of the play-offs as a manager, when he leads his Torquay side into this evening's first leg of the Blue Square Premier play-off semi-final, against another of his former clubs, Exeter City.

The first of these all-Devon derbies takes place at St James' Park, with the Gulls hosting the Grecians in the second leg next Monday.

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“If the two previous derby games are anything to go by, then people will be in for a real treat,” enthused Buckle, who is now aged 37.

Hatfield-born Buckle enjoyed three spells with Exeter, the last of these as a player-coach and then an assistant manager, before he was appointed the new manager of Torquay last summer, following the club's relegation from the Football League.

Leroy Rosenior had been named the new manager just three days before, but his stay was short-lived when the majority shareholder, Mike Bateson, sold his stake in the club.

“I've got no reasons to have any grudges against anyone at Exeter,” insisted Buckle.

“It was always going to pan out this way. It had to happen with me coming across to Torquay last summer and a few players following me.”

Ironically, Buckle has this week been linked with a move to Stevenage Borough, who parted company with manager Peter Taylor following their failure to make the Blue Square play-offs.

However, Forest Green Rovers boss Jim Harvey is the favourite to get the Broadhall Way job.

“I can't stop people writing stuff, but I haven't spoken to anyone at Stevenage,” said Buckle.

Buckle scored 10 goals in 123 senior appearances for the U's, between 1996 and '99.

Fabian Quintyn, who has recently been offered a professional contract, became the last player to score a competitive goal at Layer Road when netting Colchester United Reserves' third goal in a 3-0 win over Peterborough's second string on Tuesday night.

Tom Webb and Luke Guttridge were on target before front-runner Quintyn netted the third on 75 minutes.

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