Torquay United decline to push through a loan deal despite need for home win
Six months after the sunny summer's day when they helped to usher Fleetwood Town into the Football League, Torquay United welcome the self-styled Cod Army to Plainmoor today (3pm) for a return match which feels just as important as that opening day npower League Two 0-0 draw at the Highbury Stadium did.
The Gulls badly need a home performance and a result to reassure fans worried by a run of five points out of 21, and acting manager Shaun Taylor is handing the responsibility for getting it to the men already "in house".
After several days of research and phone calls in pursuit of a signing to cover for suspended leading scorer Rene Howe, Taylor confirmed last night that United had declined to push through a loan deal just for the sake of it.
In Howe's absence, the word is that Ryan Jarvis will play at centre-forward with promising 20-year-old striker Ashley Yeoman in support.
BRAND NEW FORD B-MAX ZETEC 1.0 ECOBOOST FOR ONLY £7685*View details
DRIVE AWAY A BRAND NEW FORD B-MAX ZETEC FOR ONLY £7685.
1.0 100PS Manual
Electric Windows & Mirrors
Quickclear Heated Windscreen
15" Alloy Wheels
Bluetooth with Ford Sync
*Drive away from only £7685 and then pay nothing for 24 months!
Contact: 01626 240583
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
Yeoman, one of the first products of United's relaunched youth scheme, has done well in one start and several cameo appearances this season, and scored his first League goal as the Gulls came from 3-0 down to beat Aldershot Town 4-3 in October.
"There is no point going gung-ho on a transfer, for someone we're not sure is better than the players who are already here," said Taylor, who will take charge of his third match in the continued sickness absence of manager Martin Ling.
"Our own players have got the shirts, and it's up to them to produce the goods. After Fleetwood, Rene misses only one more game, so let's see how this game goes first."
Taylor may have to make at least one decision elsewhere in the side, for right-back Joe Oastler has continued to have treatment for the ankle problem which forced him off during last Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Cheltenham Town.
Oastler has also done some training, but Danny Leadbitter stands by. "It's a big game for everyone," Taylor added. "We had a good result at Exeter [1-0] and a not so good one at Cheltenham [1-2], but the league is still very open – look at Wycombe winning at Gillingham this week.
"Expectations have been high all season for Fleetwood – they have lost a manager in the process, and they are still bringing in players. Martin not being here has been difficult, but I've had fantastic backing from the players, the staff and the football club.
"Your senior players are key to how any club functions, and it helps if they are on the same wavelength as you."
After Fleetwood today, United tackle the first of a series of rearranged fixtures, at home to Rotherham United next Tuesday – both opponents with clearly stated ambitions to win promotion.
For Fleetwood, it would be an extraordinary achievement, akin to Yeovil Town's rise when they first came into the League, if they could follow the Conference title by going up again. But chairman Andy Pilley seems determined to make it happen.
Micky Mellon, the manager who brought the self-styled Cod Army up, has already lost his job, and former Preston North End favourite Graham Alexander is now in charge.
If anyone doubted Pilley's resolve to keep pushing upwards, it came last month when Town paid £300,000 for Kidderminster Harriers striker Jermaine Matt.
Even allowing for the fact that Fleetwood picked up £1 million from Leicester City for Jamie Vardy last summer, it was still an eye-opening deal for a club at this level, especially as Town already had players with the pedigree of big centre-forward Jon Parkin on their books.
If United can beat Fleetwood, and then ambush Rotherham next Tuesday, the mood around Plainmoor will be transformed.
Torquay United (from): Poke, Rice; Oastler, Saah, Downes, Nicholson, Mansell, Lathrope, Craig, Yeoman, Bodin, Jarvis, Leadbitter, Stevens, Cruise, MacDonald, Macklin, Easton, Halpin, McKenzie, N Thompson, Baker.
Unavailable: Howe (suspended), Morris (injured).