Alan Knill's Gulls go in search of elusive goals
Any coach or manager will tell you the hardest thing in football is putting the ball in the back of the net. And that is an issue troubling Torquay United right now.
In seven League Two games so far this season, Alan Knill’s side have managed only six goals. It is something the Gulls are desperate to improve ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Cheltenham Town.
“I heard Jose Mourinho say recently that goals win games and it is a fact that is never going to change. You have to score,” Knill said. “It makes the game so much different because the opposition have to come out.
“In the last home game against Hartlepool, we had good opportunities to score early on, but in the end we had so much possession and they didn’t move. If you can get that first goal, they have to come out and try and play and that gives you the opportunity to hit them on the counter.
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“We have done constant shooting, crossing, getting numbers in the box and, at the end of the day, it comes down to the individual. Does he want it more than the opposition? That is what we are looking for this weekend.”
It is certainly not through a lack of trying and Knill is convinced the tide will turn soon. It is in stark contrast to pre-season when the Gulls – bereft of strikers at the time – managed to nick the odd goal or two without creating that many chances. The fact Torquay are creating chances is something Knill takes comfort from.
“I am happy because, in pre-season, we weren’t creating any chances, but we were winning 1-0! It’s funny how it goes,” Knill said. “Now we are creating more chances and not scoring, but, if we keep creating and keep getting people in the right areas and putting the ball in the right areas, it is going to change.
“We are encouraging the players to get in there and take a chance. Be brave. In both boxes, it is about who wants to get on the end of it and we want our players to be the ones that get on the end of it.”
This weekend, Torquay will come up against a Cheltenham side who have struggled to match their achievements of the past two years. Two years ago, Mark Yates’ side were play-off finalists, beating the Gulls to reach Wembley, while last year they lost to Bradford City at the semi-final stage.
So far this season, the Robins have struggled and, like Torquay, have picked up six points from their opening seven League games. However, Knill knows that, if Torquay reach their potential, they have what it takes to notch their first win on home soil.
“I look at all the games and think they are equally as hard,” Knill said. “I have to be honest and say that our performance at Fleetwood wasn’t up to standard, but, at Rochdale, we played pretty well and deserved to come away with something.
“We are always disappointed when we don’t take any points, but, when you perform as well as that, you are going to.
“We have only dipped once and that was at Fleetwood. All the other performances you will take, because we were committed and competitive.
“Against Oxford, I think they had a bit more quality than us on the day and you hold your hands up. But, even though Fleetwood are a good side, you can’t accept that because we never made it difficult for them and we want to make it difficult for the opposition.
“We did last Saturday, we were compact and offered a threat going forward. The only thing we didn’t do was put the ball in the back of the net.”
Unfortunately for Knill and Torquay, putting the ball in the net is indeed the hard bit.
Torquay United (from): Rice, C Thompson; Tonge, Pearce, Downes, Nicholson, Chapell, Mansell, Harding, Cameron, Hawley, Ball, Lathrope, Bodin, Craig, Benyon, Cruise, Sullivan, McKenzie, N Thompson, Yeoman, Hutchings.
Unavailable: Poke (thigh).