“We must not let it break our season up,” said manager Gary Johnson after watching his Torquay United side lose three leads in Sunday’s see-saw 6-5 FA Cup defeat to Crawley Town.

Gary Johnson and John Yems, Crawley Town manager, after the final whistle. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUKGary Johnson and John Yems, Crawley Town manager, after the final whistle. Photo: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

Johnson said he had already passed that message on to his crestfallen players after the extraordinary 11-goal thriller at Plainmoor.

League Two Crawley, who trailed 3-5 at one point in extra-time, led for the first and only time in the tie when Ashley Nadesan hit the winner in the 118th minute.

Aaron Nemane, Ben Whitfield, Josh Umerah and Asa Hall with two penalties all scored for the Gulls, but a Tom Nichols hat-trick led Crawley’s fightback.

“It was unbelievable,” said Johnson, who had watched his side go top of the National League with six wins in the first seven games of the season.

“One minute you were up, the next you were down, then you were up again, and then you were down.

“Credit to both teams to create a game like that. But if you are on the losing end, letting in six goals albeit in extra-time as well, then of course you are disappointed as the losing manager.

“You’ve got to be careful, because at 2-0 up at half-time, it looked like the boys felt - I don’t think it was in their heads - but it looked like they thought they had won the game.

“We are all upset not being in the FA Cup, but sometimes you have just got to give credit to the other side, and look at what went wrong for us.

“I’ll have a good look at the video and see what we need to do.

“I’ll only be watching the goals against, because I need to see why they kept getting through with only our goalie to beat.

“You’ve got to be able to sustain that level of performance at the next level - on occasions we did, because at one point we were 5-3 up.

“We’ve got to be stronger, and we weren’t.

“But we’ve had a good start (to the season), and I said straight away to the lads - we mustn’t let it break our season up.”

The Gulls’ next two league games are both at home, to Boreham Wood next Saturday (November 14) and Solihull Moors (November 17).