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Shaun Taylor may opt to tinker with Torquay United front two in search of a winning formula

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 16, 2013

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Stand-in manager Shaun Taylor kept faith with Ryan Jarvis and Ashley Yeoman as his two strikers for Tuesday night's 3-1 home defeat by Rotherham United, because he felt that they deserved another go after spirited efforts in the previous 1-0 loss to Fleetwood Town.

But another 90 minutes without a goal from open play is almost certain to prompt Taylor to change tack against Rochdale at Spotland today (3pm), especially now that he has both leading scorer Rene Howe back from suspension and new loan signing Elliot Benyon available.

"Ashley and Ryan did well, and if we'd had two wins it would have been easier," said Taylor.

"But the situation is not that, and we need to score some goals."

The debate among fans over United's effectiveness in attack hasn't just centred round personnel, but also around the formation which the Gulls have used for most of this season under ill boss Martin Ling.

It's been a 4-2-3-1 system, with the middle player of the '3' shuttling between midfield and supporting lone striker Howe.

Supporters have been calling for something more attacking for some time, and the perceived wisdom is that Benyon is an out-and-out striker more suited to playing alongside someone like Howe rather than behind him.

"I've listened to people and their interpretations of Elliot when he was here before," said Taylor.

"I've also spoken to the player, and I can't see any problem in him playing either of the two forward positions.

"He had a difficult baptism of fire in the Rotherham game, but he's not played that much 90-minute football – reserve games are all very well – and I think he was glad to get some game time.

"I will use him as I see fit."

Benyon played the second 45 minutes against Rotherham.

With Irish midfielder Ian Morris making a welcome return to training this week, after receiving the all-clear for the final stages of his recovery from Achilles tendon surgery, United actually have all their senior players up and running.

Morris, who impressed in a round of fitness and strength testing at the FA's new HQ at Burton-on-Trent earlier this week, isn't quite ready for first-team action yet, but he was able to join in a youth training game on Thursday.

Right-back Joe Oastler is also available after ankle trouble, but he'll do well to oust his deputy Danny Leadbitter, who was one of the brighter sparks of the Fleetwood and Rotherham games.

A 4-2 home win over Rochdale back in August, when John Coleman was still Dale's manager, marked one of Plainmoor's best days this season.

Relegated from League One last season, the Lancashire club haven't bounced back as expected, prompting the departure of ex-Accrington boss Coleman and the return of former promotion-winning manager Keith Hill last month.

Dangerous on-loan winger Bobby Grant is suspended, but Hill could turn to veteran centre-forward Dele Adebola, 37, and ex-Millwall and Lincoln forward Ashley Grimes if he wants to gee up an attack that's scored only four times in six winless games.

Dale and Torquay are in urgent need of a win, as they both look anxiously over their shoulders at the relegation zone.

For the Gulls, today's match also comes four days before an equally important date – a trip to one-from-bottom Aldershot next Tuesday night.

The pressure is well and truly on.

Torquay United (from): Poke; Leadbitter, Saah, Downes, Nicholson, Lathrope, Mansell, Craig, Jarvis, Bodin, Howe, Benyon, Yeoman, Rice (gk), Macklin, MacDonald, Easton, Stevens, Cruise, Halpin, McKenzie, N. Thompson, Baker.

Unavailable: Ian Morris (injury rehab).

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