Martin Ling makes plans to raise Torquay United's tempo
Early-season draw specialists Torquay United take on Aldershot Town at Plainmoor tonight determined to break out of the habit, at least in front of their own supporters.
Manager Martin Ling is expected to play two wingers and two strikers as the Gulls, who are offering a two-for-one ticket deal to boost a midweek gate, attempt to force their way into the npower League Two promotion picture.
Only one defeat but six draws from their first nine games left United in mid-table after Saturday's 1-1 return at Chesterfield. Ling stressed: "Away draws aren't going to hurt us over the season, but six points from four games at home, even though we've been undefeated here, is something we need to improve on.
"I always feel very comfortable on the road, but at home we need to go a bit more offensive and put the impetus into the tempo of our play."
Torquay did play a more attacking formation at Chesterfield, with wingers Lloyd Macklin and Danny Stevens and strikers Rene Howe and Billy Bodin all starting, although Ling readily admitted that injuries conspired to nudge him into it.
Ian Morris – who will be out for several months after surgery on his ruptured Achilles tendon yesterday – and Nathan Craig had to drop out. Before half-an-hour was up in Derbyshire, the experienced Craig Easton also had to withdraw with a hamstring strain.
Easton will not make it tonight, although he should be back soon, but Ling will wait for fitness tests on Craig (ankle) and Tom Cruise (ankle), who replaced Easton at the weekend, before finalising tonight's side.
United are optimistic that they will make it, and both will offer the sort of crisp passing which the Gulls value so highly.
Ling hinted that he will wait to assess the health of his squad after tonight's match before deciding whether he needs to dip into the loan transfer market.
There is certainly little wrong with the form of centre-forward Howe – he scored his sixth goal of the season to earn the draw at Chesterfield. Only leaders Gillingham have conceded less than the eight goals which United goalkeeper Michael Poke and his back-four have let in during the first nine games.
Aldershot, under Dean Holdsworth, have won only once since they beat Plymouth Argyle at Home Park on the first day of the season, and they come to Plainmoor on the back of defeats to Accrington Stanley and York City.
The match could mark the Plainmoor return of former Torquay favourite Guy Branston, although 'The Pickler' has had to accept a place on the bench of late. Another player who went down well at Torquay, on-loan midfielder Craig Stanley, is recovering from a broken leg sustained during pre-season.
The Shots may not be in prime form at the moment, but they do have a squad of players – Olly Lancashire, Anthony Tonkin, Mark Rankine, Adam Mekki, Craig Reid and Danny Hylton among them – who should be capable of better when they get it together.
Before kick-off, the Plainmoor crowd will honour the memory of former United defender John Bond, who died last week at the age of 79, with a minute's applause.
Torquay United (from): Poke, Rice; Oastler, Saah, Downes, Nicholson, Mansell, Cruise, Craig, Stevens, Macklin, Howe, Bodin, Thompson, Jarvis, Leadbitter, Yeoman, McKenzie, Baker, Artemi.
Doubtful: Craig (ankle), Cruise (ankle).
Unavailable: Lathrope (knee), Halpin (ankle), Morris (Achilles tendon), Easton (hamstring).