Underdog mindset for the Gulls

Goal celebrations for Joe Lewis of Torquay United during the National League match between Torquay U

Goal celebrations for Joe Lewis of Torquay United during the National League match between Torquay United and Wealdstone at Plainmoor Torquay, Devon on Saturday 2nd October 2021 - PHOTO: Dave Crawford/PPAUK - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

Torquay United need to imagine that they are in Havant & Waterlooville's boots when they face the Hawks from the National League South in Saturday's FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round tie at Plainmoor, says manager Gary Johnson. 

"When I was at Cambridge United, we had a couple of fantastic cup runs, and we were always the underdogs," said the Gulls' boss. 

"We've got to go out on Saturday as if we are the underdogs. 

"Their manager (Paul Doswell) has brought in quite a lot of lads who have worked with him before in the National League, so we've got to respect them. 

"It's very important for us and for Havant. They are a decent team doing very well in the South." 

Johnson has had his squad training every day since their second successive 2-0 away league defeat at Bromley last Saturday. 

"The last couple of home games we won (Southend 1-0, Wealdstone 5-0), so we know we've got that in us," he said. 

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"It will show character if you do come back well from a couple of defeats. 

"It will be great to get through to the First Round, and get someone like Sunderland (managed by his son Lee), but it's more important just to get another win." 

United are close to completing a couple of loan signings, which would be their first of this season, but whether either will be in time for this tie remains to be seen. 

Johnson began his era at Plainmoor with Qualifying Round wins over Lymington Town, Brightlingsea Regent and Winchester City.  But since they reached the Fourth Round Proper in 2011, they have had a pretty lean time in the Cup. 

The club does not budget for victories in the competition, but any prizemoney would be hugely welcome - £9,375 this time and £22,000 in Round One, when the EFL One and Two clubs enter.  The draw is on Sunday afternoon.  

United may not be 'giants', but Havant manager Paul Doswell knows a bit about killing them - his Sutton United teams embarrassed a few big ones during his long tenure at Gander Green Lane. 

The ambitious Hawks are well enough off to afford a team of proven players with experience of higher levels. 

They include Doswell's old Sutton charges Ross Worner (GK), Tommy Wright and Jamie Collins, Josh Passley and Oscar Gobern (Dover), Michael Green (Eastleigh), Alex Wall (Luton, Concord) and ex-Plainmoor trio Joe Oastler, Alex Rendell and Paul Rooney. 

Havant warmed up for this tie with a 5-2 home win over Concord last weekend, and they currently sit in eighth place in the NL South with games in hand on most of the teams above them. 

United have cut admission prices by £5 across the board and, with everybody paying on Saturday, 'walk-up' supporters can buy tickets at Plainmoor up to 15 minutes (2.45pm) before kick-off.