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Shaun Taylor ready to resist temptation to change a winning Torquay United line-up

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 02, 2013

Torquay United midfielder Nathan Craig (left) is expected to be fit despite having to be substituted against Exeter City on Monday night Steve Bond/Pinnacle

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'If it ain't broke, don't try and fix it' is the mantra for Torquay United, who expect to be unchanged when they face old friends and keen rivals Cheltenham Town at Whaddon Road this afternoon (3pm).

The Robins' manager, Mark Yates, may still be poring over his line-up, after a mini-blizzard of transfer activity this week, but there are no such concerns for the Gulls' assistant manager Shaun Taylor or his absent boss Martin Ling.

Taylor, who led United to their 1-0 npower League Two derby win at Exeter City on Monday night because of Ling's current illness, said: "We're planning to start with the same team.

"I've spoken to Martin, and it's a case of 'why change it'?"

There are, of course, several reasons why you might consider changing a winning team, but Taylor and Ling, who watched the match via Sky Sports live television coverage, are clearly satisfied that none of them complicate this week's deliberations.

The fact that possible casualties Nathan Craig, Joe Oastler and Billy Bodin have all reported fit removes another uncertainty. Right-back Oastler and winger Bodin have both been carrying but coping with niggling ankle problems.

Midfielder Craig had to go off with double vision in the 38th minute after a head-knock at St James' Park, but he is fine and has trained fully since.

Taylor has been thrust into the limelight this week, something he certainly would not have sought. But he and Ling are the closest of friends and colleagues, and Taylor is determined that as little should change as possible.

"I'm handling it fine, thank you," he said to a polite inquiry. "If I need to speak to Martin, I will obviously do that, but I am mindful of letting him be, unless it is serious.

"I've got very able people around me to help, and we're keeping it all on an even keel. We have some senior players who have also helped and supported me, and that will hopefully continue as we go along."

Ling, who is resting at home in Hertfordshire, is currently awaiting the results of a second round of tests for a suspected viral condition.

Exeter's Paul Tisdale is the latest manager to bemoan the difficulty of finding decent training facilities during the wettest winter in living memory.

It is something that the Plainmoor club have been grappling with for months, as their under-development training ground at Seale Hayne near Newton Abbot has been practically unusable.

Taylor reported last night: "We were able to get on part of Plainmoor, which we needed before another important match.

"Our groundsman Chris Ralph worked hard to give us a good area, and we're grateful to him for that."

However, the worst parts of Plainmoor have forced the postponement of today's Football League Youth Alliance South-West Under-18 game against Plymouth Argyle.

Taylor and Ling watched last Friday night's 0-0 draw between Cheltenham and Rochdale, but the value of the trip may have been reduced slightly by Yates' latest burst of wheeling and dealing.

Town have this week signed Rotherham United midfielder Jason Taylor and AFC Wimbledon striker Byron Harrison permanently, plus striker Paul Benson (Swindon Town) and centre-half Michael Hector (Reading) on loan deals.

Defender Alan Bennett and versatile forward Jeff Goulding have also left the club, and it was only Swindon's current financial problems which put a halt to a proposed deadline-day swap which would have seen Marlon Park going to the County Ground and Luke Rooney heading the other way.

With young Manchester United loan defender Luke McCullough thrown in, Yates signed five players during the January window.

By contrast, Plainmoor was an oasis of calm and continuity – none in and none out.

There should be quite a reunion today between Hector, Jake Taylor, Lawson D'Ath and United's Angus MacDonald, who are all out on loan from the Royals.

"We've had our ups and downs against them," said Taylor, referring to the six League, cup and play-off matches between the two clubs over the last 20 months.

"It wasn't a great game to watch when Martin and I saw them the other night, but they are a very attack-minded side with some good players."

Cheltenham have one of the best home records (W8, D4, L2) in the division and have not lost in the League in front of their own supporters since Southend United beat them 3-1 in mid-September.

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

Unavailable: Morris (Achilles tendon).

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  • Aletheia  |  February 03 2013, 12:29AM

    If it isn't broke don't fix it? Are they having a laugh? I take it that they have only seen the away game at Exeter and nothing else. How worrying that the Torquay management think that three wins in the last thirteen is something that isn't broken. Perhaps it is time that Torquay parted company with these comedians. They always say that an alcoholic has to admit there is a problem before they have a hope in hell of tackling it and the same must apply to Torquay. I have just watched the game at Whaddon Road. If it wasn't for Poke we could easily have lost 5- 1. The team were embarrassingly poor. Torquay are currently playing Conference style football. They have no creativity in midfield and play everything down the centre. They have one tactic and one tactic only and that is to hoof it high down the middle of the park from defence to Rene Howe in the hope that he can somehow miraculously win it for us on his own every game. Kick and rush football, a bit like you see on primary school football matches with no variation and the result has been that we are slowly dropping down the table. Torquay have no width and thus the game is played very tight when we have the ball and inevitably breaks down as a result of a predictable intercepted pass or tackle.. Conversely, Cheltenham used the width of the pitch to stretch the Torquay defence and gave Poke plenty of work to do. We will be very lucky if we are not fighting a relegation battle at the end of the season and the board need to consider if Martin Ling and his assistant have the tactical ability that is required at this level. Sadly, I think they fall way short of that and it is time for decisive action before it is too late in the season. Whilst I appreciate that Torquay may not have the money for new players that does not prevent them from developing more than one tactic, as outlined, for every game.