Torquay United manager Martin Ling: "Next three games are vital"
MANAGER Martin Ling believes that Torquay United can move their 2012-2013 promotion push into overdrive during three key League Two games over the next week.
The Gulls, currently a point off the Play-Offs and only four adrift of the automatic promotion places, travel to Westcountry rivals Bristol Rovers this Saturday.
Then it's back to Plainmoor for home games against leaders Gillingham on Tuesday night and Morecambe next Saturday.
"I think we're coming to Crunch Time," said Ling.
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"The next three will take us onto 15 games, which I always think is the point where you can start to see where you stand.
"There's nine points available in the space of eight days, which obviously makes the next week important.
"Bristol Rovers away, a derby for both clubs, speaks for itself, Gillingham are top of the league and Morecambe, although they are in mid-table, have a very good away record."
Disappointed by the penalty shoot-out defeat, Ling was still buoyed by the performance of a side including four changes for this week's Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie against Yeovil Town at Plainmoor.
"I will have some selection posers before we go to Bristol, and that's just what I wanted to have coming out of the Yeovil game," said Ling.
"I now know that I will be naming seven subs who, when I look round at them on the bench, can all do the job."
Of striker Ryan Jarvis, who scored both goals in the 2-2 90-minute draw against Yeovil, Ling said: "I know there are some in the crowd who have doubted him, but he got a standing ovation when he came off, and that will help his confidence.
"What more can he do, when he does replace Rene Howe, than go out and score two goals?
"Ryan and Craig Easton have done it for me before (at Leyton Orient), and I know what they can do.
"I didn't know Danny Leadbitter and Tom Cruise so much before I signed them, but once Danny got going after a nervous start he made some great challenges against Yeovil, and I thought Tom was excellent.
"I feel as if we should be in the last-16 of the JPT, but we're not.
"So now we brush ourselves down and look ahead to Bristol Rovers.
"This is a big spell coming up for us."
Ling 'rested' nine-goal leading scorer Rene Howe against Yeovil, although he did bring him off the bench to take part in the penalty shoot-out which United lost 5-4.
Howe converted his spot-kick, but now he heads for Bristol's Memorial Stadium, where he spent four months on loan two years ago, hoping to score for the seventh successive league game.
That would equal the club's all-time record, held by Fifties' hero Sammy Collins and Carl Airey, who achieved the feat in the autumn of 1988.
United have sold out their initial 450-ticket allocation for Saturday's match.
But more tickets are available, from the Pirates' ticket office and on the day – Rovers can accommodate 1,000 standing and 260 seated visiting fans.