Torquay United unrecognisable to the manager

Billy Waters of Torquay United turns Tom Hannigan of Altrincham during the National League match bet

Billy Waters of Torquay United turns Tom Hannigan of Altrincham during the National League match between Torquay United and Altrincham at Plainmoor Torquay, Devon on Tuesday 2nd February 2021 - PHOTO: Dave Crawford/PPAUK - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

Manager Gary Johnson did not hold back in his comments after Torquay United’s 2-1 home defeat by Altrincham, but he acknowledged the effect that a relentless schedule may be having on his National League leaders.  

The Gulls’ boss gave his squad an extra day off after their 25th league and cup game in just over 17 weeks, before they hit the road again to Saturday’s FA Trophy Fifth Round tie at NL North club Southport. “ 

I didn’t recognise anything about us – not as individuals or as a team,” said Johnson after fourth-placed Altrincham had wiped out Kyle Cameron’s scrambled opener with two first-half goals of their own.  

“We looked leggy, brainless and mentally and physically a long way below par. Not one of the lads came out with any credit.  

“All over the field, they (Altrincham) were quicker and sharper. And as the game went on, we didn’t get better, we got worse.”  

United, who appear to be missing injured leading scorer Danny Wright more than they would have hoped, started without a recognised striker in a 4-5-1 formation.  

Johnson made three changes around the hour-mark, sending on young Crystal Palace loanee Rob Street and Billy Waters up front and switching to 4-4-2.  

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But United toiled throughout a wet and windy night at Plainmoor. Altrincham, who had captain Jake Moult sent off for a second booking five minutes from time, did not have to be at their best to win.  

So Johnson, 65, then said: “This is where a manager’s experience comes in – I’ve had it before, where a good team is flying and all of a sudden you get a game where you think ‘This could demoralise our season’. I won’t let that happen.  

“I’ve told the lads to keep away for a couple of days – away from me and the club. “They need to rest up and refocus, and we’ll see them on Friday when we travel to Southport.”  

Torquay, who face Wealdstone at home next Tuesday night, are still clear, but Sutton United are back up to second place after beating Stockport County 2-0 at Edgeley Park and the Ambers are nine points behind with three games in hand.