Alan Knill prefers twin-pronged attack at Stanley
Manager Alan Knill is convinced that the new strike pairing of Rene Howe and Elliot Benyon can deliver the goals which will lift Torquay United clear of the npower League Two relegation zone.
As long as Benyon shrugs off a knee knock, as expected, the Gulls' loanee will again partner 14-goal leading scorer Howe up front in today's "six-pointer" against Accrington Stanley at the Crown Ground.
It is a combination which Knill has introduced since taking over two games ago, after more than 18 months in which absent boss Martin Ling persevered with Howe in a lone target-man role.
"When I saw us play at Aldershot the other week, one of the things that struck me was that Rene looked pretty isolated," said Knill.
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"I am a big fan of a 4-2-3-1 system, but you've got to have the right players to play that shape, and it takes time to make it work.
"I've talked to Rene and Elliot, they like playing together and they both feel more comfortable being a pair.
"Their records say that they can score goals. Whenever I've seen Elliot he's always been a goal threat. He's already getting in the positions – it's just a matter of time before it happens for him – and I think Rene prefers to play with someone around him.
"I've no doubt that they will score goals, and the other part is getting the team to work harder and create the chances."
Knill has been hoping to have at least one new signing on board for this vital match, and he was still trying to nail down a deal as the Gulls' squad stopped off for a training session at Walsall on their journey north yesterday.
United go into this afternoon's game trying to avoid a club record-equalling eighth successive league defeat.
They will have skipper Lee Mansell back from a sickness bug, and he is poised to regain one midfield place. But after the way the team was outplayed for long periods against Wycombe Wanderers (2-1) at home in midweek, Knill may be thinking of another change in the engine room.
For supporters of both clubs, this fixture looks to have a "crucial" tag attached to it.
However, Knill insisted: "Every time you go on the pitch is critical. It's three points, it doesn't matter if it's against Accrington, or Oxford here next week. I know Accrington really well, from my time down the road at Bury.
"I love it as a football club. It's how football used to be.
"The first battle is against the environment – it's often blowing a gale or raining, and they're always in your face.
"You have to handle all that first and foremost."
Accrington have won only twice in 16 games, but they did end a six-match winless run when they routed local rivals Rochdale 3-0 on Tuesday night, with the help of two spectacular shots from former Plymouth Argyle left-back Lee Molyneux.
The home attack is likely to be led by former England, Southampton, Everton, Stoke and Rangers centre-forward James Beattie, 34, who has scored six goals since he joined the club in November.
Torquay United (from): Poke, Rice; Leadbitter, Saah, MacDonald, Nicholson, Mansell, Easton, Lathrope, Oastler, Jarvis, Benyon, Howe, Bodin, Macklin, Cruise, Yeoman, Craig, N Thompson, Stevens, Morris, Halpin, McKenzie, Baker.
Unavailable: Downes (hamstring).