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Southend United leave their mark on Torquay United boss

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 23, 2012

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Torquay United manager Martin Ling is tipping Paul Sturrock to win promotion from League Two with Southend United this season – automatically.

Former Plymouth Argyle boss Sturrock has the Shrimpers up to eighth place, a point off the play-offs, after routing the Gulls 4-1 at Plainmoor last Saturday and then AFC Wimbledon 4-0 in south-west London in midweek.

Sturrock's men are also unbeaten in six games, through to the second round of the FA Cup, and they've scored 14 goals in those six matches.

"We were poor last Saturday, but we were playing a team that I think will be top-three at the end of the season," said Ling.

"You look at their squad and see that [ex-Torquay] Elliot Benyon is their sixth-choice striker, and it shows the gap there is between their resources, ours and a lot of teams in this division.

"I thought we were beaten by a good side last weekend, even though we helped them with a poor performance."

By contrast, the Gulls – they travel to York City tomorrow – have not won in four games, and they have scored just one goal into the bargain.

United's finances did not stretch to Ling signing a forward before last night's loan deadline, but centre-back Angus MacDonald completed his second loan move from Reading.

MacDonald, who spent nearly four months at Plainmoor last season, has signed this time until January 6, a date which will see him available for nine npower League Two games.

The former England Under-16 and Under-19 international's current contract at Reading is up at the end of the season, and Ling said: "Gus feels that his chances at Reading are slim, so he's looking to build his career elsewhere.

"He was fine for us last season. He had a spell at Wimbledon this season, although he played a lot of games there at right-back, which isn't his best position.

"I want to see him again now, and we'll reassess the situation in January.

"We've been one light in numbers at centre-half since the start of the season, and it's one position that's always worried me."

United have launched an attractive three-match New Year ticket offer, with all the trimmings.

For £75 a Torquay supporter will be able to watch three home games against AFC Wimbledon (January 1), Rotherham United (January 5) and Chesterfield (January 19), complete with three-course meals before kick-off, a glass of wine or beer and complimentary programmes.

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