Keeper Mark Halstead Pic :Pinnacle

Mark is out to keep Number One slot

Dave Thomas

Nine appearances represents a paltry season for a senior goalkeeper who once played in the Premier League, and Mark Halstead is determined to prove that he is the man to stand between Torquay United’s posts every week in 2022-2023.

Former Blackpool, Shrewsbury Town and Morecambe goalie Halstead, 31, committed himself to a two-year contract at Plainmoor last summer and was second-choice by mid-September.

Goalkeepers often get the blame for problems in front of them, but United had conceded 15 goals in five-and-a-half games, taking only four points in the process, before Halstead suffered concussion in a 2-1 defeat at Solihull Moors on September 14.

Manager Gary Johnson promptly re-signed Shaun MacDonald and, apart from an FA Trophy tie at Tonbridge Angels in December – United lost 2-1 there too –  Halstead sat on the bench for the next seven months.

MacDonald went on to win Player Of The Year.

But when MacDonald was also injured in April, Halstead returned to the side, and he played well in a 1-0 defeat at champions Stockport County and a 1-1 last-day draw at Southend United.

“Last year didn’t pan out the way I wanted or intended,” said Blackpool-born Halstead.

He’s made 143 senior appearances in a 13-year career, including a PL appearance for Blackpool against Chelsea in 2011.

“People always look at the keeper when goals go in, but I’m old enough and ugly enough to deal with that sort of stuff,” he went on.

“But in the last few games I showed what I was capable of.

“I’ve played at a high-enough level, in promotion-winning sides and relegated ones, to deal with whatever comes along.

“As one of the more experienced people in the club, it’s down to me to be a leader.  I’m trying to do that.

“But, above all, I’m massively excited by the season ahead.”

Johnson has just signed Rhys Lovett, 25, to keep Halstead on his toes, but the No.1 is in no mood to be No.2 again.