Torquay United stay top of the National League

Gary Johnson, Manager of Torquay United before the National League match between Torquay United and

Gary Johnson, Manager of Torquay United before the National League match between Torquay United and Hartlepool United at Plainmoor Torquay, Devon on Saturday 6th March 2021 - PHOTO: Dave Crawford/PPAUK - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

Only goal difference - and one goal at that - keeps Torquay United on top of the National League after a 1-0 home defeat by Hartlepool United left the Gulls with only three wins (all away from Plainmoor) and four defeats in their last ten games.

Pools (+11) drew themselves level with United (+21) on points, and so did Sutton United (+20) after they were held 0-0 at home by Wrexham, on a day when Torquay again failed to take advantage of other results in their favour.

Stockport County (4th) lost 1-0 at lowly Weymouth, while Eastleigh (7th) were beaten 2-1 at home by Bromley.

Gulls manager Gary Johnson had braced himself for the loss of a leadership which stretched to 14 points at one stage when he said: "It might just make everybody pick up a bit. Maybe they got a bit complacent, I'm not sure 

"We have been up there a long time, so maybe we can be the 'challenger' instead of the 'champion'."

Johnson admitted after a shot-shy display failed to cancel out Luke Molyneux's 14th minute goal for Hartlepool: "We've had a bit of a lull in our performances, and also in our final-third play.

"We're not getting enough shots away - we used to have 20-odd shots in a game before this spell, and scored three or four goals sometimes.

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"I am most disappointed that we didn't create enough chances.

"We had a few half-chances towards the end of the game, but it was probably too late.

"I think my lads lost a little bit of confidence because of their goal - they shouldn't have done.  It was only late on that we really started pushing numbers forward.

"When it's 1-0 down, you start to do things anxiously rather than surely.  We were a bit more frantic, and they were a bit more assured.

"We're going through a bit of a poor patch, and we've got to drag them out of it.

"We just need to buckle down and keep going, and see where it takes us."

After the postponement of Tuesday's home game against Aldershot Town, because of the Shots' current Covid-19 issues, United are next in action at Boreham Wood next Saturday (5.20pm) in a BT Sport live TV game.