Cheltenham boss Mark Yates believes Torquay counterpart Martin Ling is engaging in a spot of mind games ahead of their npower League Two play-off semi-final second leg at Plainmoor tomorrow.
Having seen the Robins claim a 2-0 advantage in Sunday’s first leg at Whaddon Road, Gulls boss Ling declared “they’re now massive favourites, we’re the massive underdogs”.
The view is one which can be argued but the tie remains in the balance, with both Yates and Ling acknowledging it is far from over.
Yates said: “Martin’s a top man and a top manager, he’s speaking as it is but he’s also getting into a bit of mind games.
“It is a precarious lead, 2-0 – they get an early goal and it’s game on, of course it is. But I’d certainly rather be in our position and if that makes us massive favourites then so be it. We’ve got to handle that pressure. I’ve got every confidence and every belief that we can do that.
“We won’t be going down there thinking we’re there and the game’s over. We’re a level-headed bunch, we keep our feet on the ground when we’re winning or losing and we’ve still got a big job to do to progress.”
Yates was speaking in his office at Cheltenham’s Seasons training complex, where it is business as usual despite the Gloucestershire club chasing a Wembley final and a showdown against either Crewe or Southend on May 27.
Town’s preparations remain exactly the same for the crunch clash, with the players enjoying a swimming session yesterday and some ball work today before travelling down to Devon on the day of the game.
And Yates insists they will also approach the match in the same way, despite their two-goal advantage.
“We’re certainly not going there to defend the edge of our box, camp in and play five at the back, shut up shop. That’s not what we’ve been about all season and it won’t change on Thursday,” he said.
Torquay will be without Player of the Year and leading scorer Rene Howe for the encounter.
Howe, with 14 goals to his name this season, limped out after just 21 minutes on Sunday nursing a hamstring injury, having initially shrugged off a groin problem to start.
But he is confident his team-mates can turn the deficit around tomorrow.
“I will always back the lads,” Howe told Torquay’s official website. “We have a great team spirit. Even when we went eight games without a win, we kept our spirit and went on an amazing run.
“We are not scared of Cheltenham and I can see no reason why we can’t do it. We will go into the game and take it to them. Hopefully the lads can win 3-0 and I will come back for the final.”