Torquay United reveal what happens on a match-day

By Brent PilnickBBC Sport

Most people watch a football match on television or go to a game, but few know how much work goes into every match behind the scenes.

BBC Late Kick Off was given exclusive access to Torquay United manager Martin Ling as he prepared for his side's League Two clash with Port Vale.

He arrives at Plainmoor at around 1130 having already studied the tactics he expects his opponents to play.

His side have worked on how to counter Vale and exploit any weaknesses.

Ling and his assistant Shaun Taylor get at least two scouting reports on each side they face, outlining tactics, set-plays, player strengths and areas that Torquay might be able to exploit.

"They're a massive part of the game," Ling says.

"At set-plays I think it's essential that you get it right."

But just as Ling will have had Port Vale watched, so will Micky Adams have done his homework on how the Gulls are playing.

It means that Ling never uses all his aces in any match that his side plays.

"If a club have watched us for the last two games we've got a list of 16 set-plays and we do switch them around a little bit to keep them confused.

"I work on 80% of what we're going to do to hurt them and 20% on what they're about.

"The planning, the preparation, it's all part of the excitement.

"But once the game starts the control is there but it's really over to the players when they go over the white line."

At 1400 the manager, coaches and captains, along with the referee and his officials, all meet to swap pleasantries and, more importantly, the team sheets.

It is then that Ling and Taylor get to work, seeing if the side that they have prepared for all week is the side that will take the field.

They then impart that information onto their players and leave them to get on with the game.

Whilst the match is going on Torquay film the game, with the club's video analyst using a special piece of software to collate information about the game.

At half time Ling looks over the video, notes down tactical improvements or set-plays that he needs to work on and puts that across to his men in the changing room.

And whatever Ling took from the first-half against Vale - when the Gulls trailed 1-0 - clearly worked, as they came back to win 2-1 and stay second in League Two.

Once things have calmed down after the game, Ling and his opposite number Micky Adams sit in the office and discuss the match and their players over a beer.

"I suppose there's a bit of a union that people stick together, because we know what it's like and we're all in it for the same thing, but it's a cut-throat business," he concludes.

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