Manager Chris Hargreaves says that Torquay United’s fans can play a major role in keeping the club’s Football League survival hopes alive against Dagenham and Redbridge on Good Friday – in contrast to Bristol Rovers’ supporters at the Memorial Stadium last Saturday.
The Gulls have announced an Under-12 ‘Kids-4-Free’ offer for Friday’s game, in an effort to boost the gate.
Calling for a bumper crowd and an atmosphere to match against Dagenham, Hargreaves said: “Our supporters haven’t had much to cheer about this season, with our home form being poor, but they’ve never turned on the team.
“They weren’t happy when I took Shaquile Coulthirst off [against Newport] a couple of weeks ago, but I know it was out of frustration and they didn’t know the full reasons behind it.
“Our fans have always been brilliant to me, as a player and since I’ve been manager, and they’ve stayed with the team through a difficult season.”
The Gulls pulled off a 2-1 upset victory at the Memorial Stadium, with second half goals by on-loan Tottenham Hotspur striker Coulthirst and skipper Lee Mansell.
Hargreaves said: “Even we were a bit surprised at Rovers’ fans last Saturday.
“The way they reacted to the game, especially when we scored in the second half – it can’t have helped them, and it seemed to affect some of their players.
“People often talk about games being ‘cup finals’, but on Friday it’s true. And, if we win, for each game after that,” the Gulls’ boss added.
“I’ve no worries that our fans be right behind us on Friday, but we just need as many as possible there.”
After Friday’s match, Torquay – they are seven points adrift of safety with four games left – travel to St James’ Park to face Devon rivals Exeter City on Easter Monday afternoon.
Their last two games are away to Mansfield Town (April 26) and at home to fellow strugglers Wycombe Wanderers on the final day of the season (May 3).
To have any chance of beating the drop when Wycombe come to Plainmoor, United almost certainly need to beat Dagenham and Exeter over Easter.
All children under 12 years of age will be admitted free to the Dagenham game, as long as they are accompanied by an adult.