FOR anyone who has ever met Luke Joyce, the sight of the Accrington Stanley midfielder being sent off for violent conduct against Torquay in December was one of the more surprising moments of the 2011/12 campaign.
A man renowned as being mild mannered on and off the pitch, a rare red card when the two sides last met has left him with mixed memories of fixtures against the Gulls.
Joyce had scored his first Stanley goal against Torquay two seasons ago and the 24-year-old hopes for a similar happy experience when he leads the Reds out at Plainmoor this afternoon.
The holding midfielder’s December dismissal was the first time he had received a straight red card – his only other sending off came for two bookings during his time at Carlisle.
Joyce still insists he did nothing wrong against Torquay, in a game that Stanley won 3-1.
But he was forced to serve a three-match ban after the off-the-ball clash with Gulls defender Mark Ellis was not caught on camera, making it impossible to appeal.
“I’ve scored against them and been sent off, so it’s been a funny club to play against,” Joyce admitted.
“We did really well against Torquay earlier in the season but obviously I was disappointed to be sent off.
“It was a crazy one, I don’t think their lad helped me out at all, he gave me a bit of a bear hug in the middle of the pitch for no reason and I tried to get him off me and the ref deemed it as a punch.
“But I’m not the kind of person to go round punching people, I think most people would tell you that. It was just a shame it wasn’t actually on camera so we couldn’t appeal against it.
“It was just one of those things.
“Hopefully I’ll stay on the pitch for 90 minutes this time!”
Joyce was recently made Stanley skipper after Dean Winnard was ruled out with an ankle injury.
“It’s a massive honour to be captain of Accrington, it’s something that I can put on my CV and no-one can take away from me,” he said.
Stanley were only two places behind Torquay after victory over Gillingham in late January but contrasting fortunes for the sides since then now put the Reds 13th in the table, with today’s opponents up to second.
Paul Cook’s side beat AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, though, when Joyce notched his third goal of the current campaign.
“I think that’s my best return for a season,” he said.
“I’m a bit disappointed because I was initially on penalties but we’ve not had a penalty this season, which is unbelievable.
“So hopefully I can squeeze a couple in before the end of the season.
“There’s been a lot of upheaval that comes with a new manager and a manager leaving, and we’ve been disappointed we’ve not collected more points. But if we can finish in the top half we’ll be happy with that.”