By Tony Leighton
There will be no fear factor as Torquay United head into the npower League 2 Play-Offs as underdogs, says Manager Paul Buckle with his team set to face a Shrewsbury Town side that finished four places and 11 points ahead of the Gulls in the table.
The Shrews missed out on automatic promotion by only a single point, while Buckle's men squeezed into the lowest of the Play-Off places on goal difference.
But the Manager, who is leading his side into a third Play-Offs in four seasons, is totally unfazed by those statistics and can point to what could prove to be a big psychological advantage over their opponents as they prepare to entertain the Shrews in the first leg of the semi-final on Saturday.
Two months ago the Gulls hammered the Shrews 5-0 at Plainmoor, kick-starting an 11-match unbeaten run that was key to clinching their place in the Play-Offs.
Buckle told football-league.co.uk: "That performance was one of out best - if not the best - of the season. It was an incredible display and gave the players the belief that they could go on to finish the season in the Play-Offs.
"We'd been threatening to do what we did to Shrewsbury for a little while, but it all came together on that day and it was a massive boost for us.
"So although Shrewsbury will be favourites, we know we can beat them and we'll go into the tie with no fear. We've played with no fear all season, in fact - we've been bold and enjoyed our football, and we're not going to change that now."
Torquay's previous two Play-Off experiences came at non-league level in successive seasons, missing out in the first of them but then winning the 2009 Blue Square Premier Final against Cambridge United.
They then finished 17th in League 2 last term and now, with a squad which still contains a good proportion of the players who brought the club back into The Football League after a two-year absence, they are aiming for another Play-Off triumph.
Buckle said: "Getting to another Play-Offs is an incredible achievement by everyone concerned. We're nowhere near the size of some of the clubs in this division and we weren't touted for promotion, in fact one or two pundits reckoned we would struggle.
"We deserve to be in the Play-Offs and we're looking forward to playing Shrewsbury, but we're under no illusions - they're a very good side and it's going to be difficult for us. But there's been a real buzz about the players in our preparations for this first leg and we'll be going into it with confidence high."
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