Ling happy to have the distraction of FA Cup
He would rather be cracking on with another npower League Two match, but Torquay United manager Martin Ling is in no doubt how important this weekend's FA Cup first round is to the Gulls and their promotion hopes.
United still do not know who their opponents will be at Plainmoor on Saturday – Harrogate Town and Hyde United are due to play their postponed first-round replay at Wetherby Road tonight – but Ling has confirmed, through words and action, that the Cup is right at the top of his list of priorities.
When most supporters might have preferred leading scorer Rene Howe to risk a fifth booking and an immediate one-match suspension, so that he could be back for the League Two trip to Barnet a week tonight, Ling took his ten-goal striker off in the 84th minute of last Saturday's 1-0 win over Morecambe – just to make sure that he can play in the Cup.
With his team in the play-offs zone for the first time this season, Ling said: "We're up where we feel we want to be, and I would rather have another League game now. But the Cup is special.
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"It's about money – it sounds cruel to say it like that, but for me it may mean that I can sign a player later in the season who can help us in the League. Winning and losing on Saturday may be the difference between signing that player and not being able to.
"We all dream of Manchester United away in the third round, but there's decent money to be made before then." With the £18,000 prize-money plus their share of gate receipts, a win on Saturday should see United come away with nearly £30,000.
That may be only a week's wages for a modest Premier League player, but it would be important income for League Two sides like Torquay, and a favourable second-round draw would leave them within reach of another £27,000 prize pot at that stage.
Meanwhile, everyone is hoping that Harrogate and Hyde do manage to play tonight. Harrogate's pitch, which was dug up, levelled and re-seeded in the summer, is in a poor state after the wettest summer for a century.
Not only was last Tuesday's replay against Hyde called off, but so was last Saturday's Blue Square Bet North game against Corby Town.
The Gulls' Under-18 side travel to Bristol Rovers in the first round of the FA Youth Cup tonight. The winners will be at home in Staines Town or Wroxham in round two.