Torquay United manager Gary Johnson has challenged his National League leaders to cope with the pressure that will come with being top of the table.

“Do you fight harder to get to the top, or do you fight harder to stay there?” asked Johnson as United stand five points clear after a televised 5-0 thrashing of previously unbeaten Hartlepool United on Teesside.

In the wake of one of the biggest away victories in their history - centre-forward Danny Wright’s hat-trick followed two in the 4-1 win at Aldershot Town last week - the Gulls are preparing for Sunday’s FA Cup First Round tie against League Two Crawley Town at Plainmoor (12.45pm).

“At the moment, we are number one, so we’re there to be shot at,” said Johnson, who this week extended the loans of defender Sam Sherring (AFC Bournemouth) and midfielder Adam Randell (Plymouth Argyle) until mid-January.

“The job now is to fight hard to keep what we’ve earned over the last few weeks.

“We hit a level at Hartlepool that we can be very proud of - we demoralised a good team.

“Sometimes a team that does that to another side doesn’t get the credit it deserves, and I heard comments afterwards about them (Hartlepool) being unorganised.

“But we did that to them, and people should remember that they had only let in three goals before we played them.

“If we are below standard, I will let people know, but I will also let people know when we are on it.”

United will train tomorrow and Saturday before Crawley come to town for Sunday’s lunchtime KO.

Johnson made changes for the last-round 2-0 win at Sholing and he has plenty of scope to do it again, even with more than £22,000 at stake.

Defender Fraser Kerr is fit after injury, new striker signing Billy Waters is available and Johnson says that ex-Sunderland and Dundee forward Andrew Nelson is ‘not a million miles away’.