Lee Mansell: "Torquay United can still make it to Wembley"
Captain Lee Mansell believes all is not lost, despite Torquay United going down to a 2-0 defeat in the first leg of their npower League Two play-offs semi-final at Cheltenham Town.
The Gulls paid the ultimate price for their wastefulness in front of goal – and Cheltenham bagged a goal in each half to leave United with a huge task on their hands to win through to the Wembley final on Sunday, May 27.
"For large parts, I thought we were the better side, but you have to take your chances in football and, today, we didn't," Mansell said. "Their first goal was a bit gut-wrenching. We were trying to play the right way but, unfortunately, when you try and do that, it doesn't always work.
"They got the first goal, we started chasing the game, and I think the second was too easy for them to get the cross in and it was a great header past Bobby [Olejnik].
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
"We have come back from 2-0 down before, but instead of having 45 minutes to do something about it, we have 90 minutes. The major point to start with for Thursday is to create a good tempo and a good atmosphere around the place and really go at them.
"The next goal in the tie has to be ours, without a shadow of a doubt. We all know that, our minds are figured for Thursday, we will get over the disappointment now and everyone has been told that in the changing room by the gaffer. We have one home game now to score three and get to Wembley.
"We have been in their shoes before, it is a precarious position. If we get one, then they start to drop back a bit and hopefully we can get Eunan [O'Kane] on the ball more to make us tick.
"That is the way we will be looking to do it."
The Gulls started superbly at Abbey Business Stadium, but their cause was not helped when key striker Rene Howe limped out of the action with a hamstring injury which seems certain to rule him out of the second leg.
"Rene hasn't been right all week," bemoaned Mansell. "He was struggling with his groin and now he's done his hamstring. I don't think he will be ready for Thursday, which will be a blow, but we have Taiwo [Atieno] to come in and I thought he did really well today against two big centre-halves.
"We started off really well and Rene got in a couple of times. I thought to myself then it was going to be a good day, but, for some reason, we sat off them a bit and allowed Cheltenham to get more of the second balls."
Mansell was visibly trying to gee up his team-mates after the Gulls fell two behind, and he tried again in the dressing room come full-time.
"I just said to get your heads up, it's a kick in the balls, but dust yourselves down and get ready for a fight on Thursday," Mansell added.
"I think that is the best they have played and that's with no disrespect to them, they are a good side. We didn't really kick into our second gear and we created a lot of chances, but we didn't take them."