Gary Johnson: 'We've got to get back on the bike'

Asa Hall, Captain of Torquay United wins the aerial challenge against Jerome Okimo, Captain of Weal

Torquay captain Asa Hall wins an aerial challenge against Jerome Okimo during the National League match between Torquay United and Wealdstone at Plainmoor on Tuesday - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

Torquay United are trying to haul themselves out of an injury crisis which threatens their bid to win promotion back to the Football League - for a second successive season.

Gary Johnson’s Gulls are eight points clear at the top of the National League after Billy Waters' stoppage-time equaliser snatched a 1-1 draw at home to managerless Wealdstone this week.

But, a year on from when injuries knocked them out of contention in 2020, United went into their latest match without 12 senior players through injury or suspension (Connor Lemonheigh-Evans).

All the clubs chasing them have games in hand, and Johnson admitted: "We don't want to give those other teams oxygen. 

"We have got to get a bigger squad back together, so we're not killing the same people week-in week-out, and we are trying very hard to do that.

"At the moment teams are coming here and feeling like they've got a chance.

"We've got to get that group of players on the pitch that people are frightened of again."

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All teams are starting to suffer from the relentless Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday schedule, Torquay more than most.

Their most experienced players, except captain Asa Hall, were missing on Tuesday night. 

They are fighting on two fronts - the league and the FA Trophy where they are through to a quarter final tie away to old rivals Woking on February 27.

The whole season is still under the shadow of a vote of all 66 NL and NL North/South clubs - they have until February 28 to decide whether the campaign should stop or carry on in the face of a funding shortage. 

But there still seems a good chance that United and their rivals will be allowed to continue. 

On a perishingly windy night at Plainmoor, the Gulls pounded the Wealdstone goal in the second half before Waters finally drove in his fifth goal of the season in the 91st minute.

"We salvaged a point in the end," said Johnson, "but we're disappointed to draw. 

"We've got to get going again and get back on the bike."

Next up is Woking, but in the league in Surrey on Saturday, not the Trophy.