Fixtures come thick and fast for Torquay United
Manager Martin Ling has admitted that Torquay United face " a massive week" of three games in eight days, starting with this Saturday's npower League Two trip to Burton Albion.
That spell will only serve to give the Gulls a taste of what to expect from a daunting schedule of eight games in 29 days between February 2 and March 2.
After Burton away this weekend, United return to Plainmoor for next Tuesday's re-arranged Devon derby against Exeter City (8pm), followed by Chesterfield at home four days later (Saturday, January 19).
"Nine points on offer makes it a massive week for us," Ling said yesterday.
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The Gulls have slipped down the League Two table to 16th, partly because of a run of only two points out of a possible 12, but also because they have lost three games to postponements. "We've got games in hand on everyone else, but we need to turn that into points," Ling added.
"We've got 22 games to go, but after Chesterfield we have another eight-day break before we play Exeter again live on Sky at St James' Park (Monday, January 28, 7.45pm), and that makes it a bit stop-start. But then you look at February and see what a huge month that's going to be."
From February 2, when they travel to Cheltenham Town, who beat the Gulls in last season's play-off semi-finals, until March 2, when they make the long trip to Accrington Stanley, United will play eight games.
The schedule also includes Fleetwood Town at home (February 9), Rotherham United home (February 12), Rochdale away (February 16), Aldershot Town away (February 19), Port Vale home (February 23) and Wycombe Wanderers home (February 26).
After the loan extension for Reading defender Angus MacDonald – he is staying until the end of the season – Ling is now chasing a striker before the fixture backlog really begins to bite. Some fans have latched on to the name of former Gulls favourite Chris Zebroski, who has just left divisional rivals Cheltenham by mutual consent, but Ling is not thought to have him on his radar.
Meanwhile, United have confirmed that long-standing shirt sponsors Sparkworld are to end ten years of backing for the club next summer.
"The partnership has been very rewarding," said Tristan Cook of the Heathfield-based domestic appliance suppliers, who are to devote more resources to their online marketing operation. The Gulls are already talking to several other companies who are interested in taking over the shirt deal from Sparkworld.