Less than a week after he relished the prospect of having a virtually all-fit squad at his disposal, Torquay United manager Gary Johnson rued the absences of at least four key players in Tuesday night's 2-0 home defeat by Solihull Moors.
Beating Altrincham away (2-1) at the weekend without Joe Lewis, Dean Moxey (both Covid) and Tom Lapslie (injury), may have been one thing, but holding in-form Solihull after the loss of centre-forward Danny Wright (hamstring) in the sixth minute was entirely another.
United's young side, with many cutting their teeth at this level, played with plenty of spirit and moments of quality. But they missed a couple of big chances at 0-0 in the second half and paid the price as Moors, physically stronger and more experienced, finally got to them.
Sub Kyle Hudlin's backheel (85mins) and Andrew Dallas' stoppage-time clincher - his ninth goal in three games - settled it, although many in an always-supportive 2,469 crowd stayed to applaud the Gulls at the end.
"We have been unlucky with Danny Wright, a big and experienced player, going off. We already had our two centre-halves (Lewis, Moxey) and our midfield player with experience (Lapslie) not available, and we didn't have another big No.9 on the bench," said Johnson.
"Before they scored, we had a couple of great chances, and a couple of penalty decisions which didn't go our way. We needed to take one of those chances at 0-0, and things might have been different.
"But in the second half we didn't get stronger, we got weaker.
"We looked like we were hanging on, and that's disappointing because my teams aren't usually like that."
United have another ten-day break until big-spending Wrexham come to Plainmoor on February 5, and Johnson hinted at renewed efforts in the transfer market.
"We are going to need a bigger, stronger squad, and the board are very much in agreement with that," he said.
"But everybody wants the players you want, and sometimes they are prepared to pay big money."
Wrexham, who have already spent big this season, have just broken their club transfer record to buy striker Ollie Palmer from League One AFC Wimbledon for £300,000.
"There are some strong teams in this league, and we want to be one of them," Johnson added.
"But people have to be a bit realistic - just because we're Torquay, it doesn't mean we can just run over them.
"If people come in, people have to go out - the ones on the periphery.
"But I owe it to the ones I can rely on to add one or two now.
"We're talking to players and agents all the time, and we've got ten days to work more on that."
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