So much at stake for Torquay United

Josh Umerah of Torquay United challenges for the aerial ball with Lewis Cass of Hartlepool United du

Josh Umerah of Torquay United challenges for the aerial ball with Lewis Cass of Hartlepool United during the National League match between Torquay United and Hartlepool United at Plainmoor Torquay, Devon on Saturday 6th March 2021 - PHOTO: Dave Crawford/PPAUK - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

Whatever happens on the pitch, Torquay United manager Gary Johnson expects relationships on the touchline to remain at best friendly and at least cordial in Sunday's National League Play-Off Final. 

With a place in the Football League at stake - for the Gulls after a seven-year gap - to say nothing of nearly £1 million in extra revenue, tensions often boil over on these high-pressure occasions. 

The vastly experienced Johnson, 65, will be up against Hartlepool United's Dave Challinor, 45, in the showdown at Bristol City's Ashton Gate stadium. 

Johnson is hoping to lead Torquay to his seventh career promotion at National League/EFL level, while Challinor took AFC Fylde through several lower divisions to the NL before moving to Hartlepool. 

In two league games this season, Torquay routed Pools 5-0 at Victoria Park last October in a live TV match, but the Teessiders won 1-0 at Plainmoor in March. 

"Dave was very humble when we beat them up there, and I was very humble when they beat us down here," said Johnson. 

"So I don't anticipate any problems on that score. 

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"These games are always close, because there is so much at stake. 

"You can gain energy from the supporters, and I know ours will be loud and supportive. 

"But you mustn't lose concentration."