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DEVON DERBY COUNTDOWN: Torquay's Michael Poke pledges to carry on as normal in tonight’s meeting with Exeter

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 15, 2013

Torquay's Michael Poke

Torquay's Michael Poke

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A local football derby is nowhere as serious as wartime, but Torquay United goalkeeper Michael Poke still evoked a Second World War slogan when he summed up the way to halt both his team's mid-season slump and Exeter City's march towards promotion in the 114th Devon derby between the old rivals at Plainmoor tonight (8pm).

"Keep calm and carry on – that's my attitude," said Poke, 27, whose form has just earned him the Gulls' latest player of the month award.

United are without a win in five npower League Two games and were beaten 2-1 at Burton Albion last Saturday, but Poke insisted: "Although it has been a trying spell, as far as morale is concerned it's all fine.

"One thing our team has got is grit. We've gone behind and dragged ourselves back this season – look at Aldershot, where we were 3-0 down and won 4-3.

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"A derby like this is a great game to be involved in. Derbies are like cup ties. The form book goes out of the window."

Poke, who joined Torquay from Brighton and Hove Albion last summer after three previous loan spells at Plainmoor, has refused to read too much into United's recent tendency to concede late goals, or his own good form.

"Most of them have been good goals, and it has just been a killer that they seem to come in the last ten minutes of games," he said. "At Burton on Saturday I had more to do in the first half than the second, and their goalie had more to do than me in both halves.

"If you start looking into it too much, you start seeing things that aren't there.

"I do look at my own performance all the time, of course. But I could be playing like Gordon Banks, and it wouldn't make me feel good if we're not winning. It's a team game, and we need to stick together.

"I'm enjoying my football and enjoying being here, but at the moment all I'm interested in is turning this little run around.

"If we play like we did at Burton and get a rub of the green, which we haven't been getting, we know we can win this game and plenty of others."

Tonight's clash was rearranged after the heavy rain just before Christmas put paid to the game being played on December 22, when United were just three points behind their Devon rivals.

Since then, Exeter's good form has seen them stretch their lead over Torquay to 11 points, and City will look to equal a club record of six successive away wins with victory at Plainmoor tonight.

Torquay supporters are reminded that tonight's game is not all-ticket for them, and they will be able to pay at the gate.

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