Torquay United boss in search of consistency which still eludes Gulls
That old word "consistency" is uppermost in Torquay United manager Martin Ling's mind again as the Gulls take on in-form Dagenham and Redbridge in npower League Two at Plainmoor today.
Most Gulls fans will expect Ling's men to follow up last weekend's welcome 2-0 away win at York City, roll over the Daggers and banish the memory of that painful first home defeat of the season against Southend United a fortnight ago. But Ling was quick to say: "Only once have we had back-to-back wins this season, and we've got to get a consistent run going.
"Last week's performance was important, off the back of disappointing results against Harrogate, Barnet and Southend, but we don't want to waste that result at York.
"I said before we went there that I didn't think our home form was a problem, but the last thing we want to do now is to start letting that slip."
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Consistency has suddenly become even more important than usual.
Few teams bar Gillingham have managed it so far, and promotion from League Two still looks at the prey of any side which can put together the sort of run that saw Torquay, for one, charge up the table this time last season.
United and Dagenham seized the chance to rearrange this match after both were knocked out of the FA Cup – this is round two weekend – and Ling said: "There are only three League matches this Saturday, which will take everyone to 20 games. This is our game in hand, and a win would take us back to around where we want to be."
United's lone-striker formation has given rise to some frustration around Plainmoor recently, and Ling changed it slightly at York. There is every indication that he will repeat the formula, with Ryan Jarvis supporting centre-forward Rene Howe, this afternoon.
"Although we played two holding players in midfield [Craig Easton and Nathan Craig], we went with a more offensive system in front of them and Rene not on his own quite so much," said Ling.
"It gave us a few more avenues to go down, and we held the ball up a bit better. I thought it worked well."
United will once again be without suspended captain Lee Mansell – he is suspended – but Ling has no real reason to change the team which won at York.
Dagenham come to Plainmoor in good spirits. "They were struggling at the start of the season, but in the last-six-games table I think they're second," said Ling.
"John Still [their manager] is a wily old campaigner who knows where to find players."
The two men are old friends from many years working around the South-East circuit.
Still has shown considerable faith in his younger players of late, but one of the older ones, ex-Yeovil Town striker Sam Williams, is finally showing the form which has eluded him during an injury-interrupted career so far.
Torquay United (from): Poke, Rice; Oastler, Saah, Downes, Nicholson, Easton, Craig, Bodin, Jarvis, Stevens, Howe, Lathrope, MacDonald, Halpin, Cruise, Yeoman, Thompson, McKenzie, Leadbitter, Baker, Artemi.
Unavailable: Mansell (suspended), Morris, Macklin (both injured).