Damon Lathrope delighted as Torquay United's hard work results in derby triumph
Midfielder Damon Lathrope believes that Torquay United revived the spirit of their best spells of last season in pulling off their psychologically important 1-0 Devon derby victory over Exeter City at St James' Park.
Lathrope, whose tackling and work-rate were a key factor as the Gulls withstood the Grecians' second-half pressure, said: "At times we were a bit outnumbered in midfield, but we coped with that and pressed them all round the pitch.
"That's what we did last year when we reached the play-offs. We didn't always play well last year, but we stuck to our game-plan and ground out a lot of 1-0 wins.
"We've conceded a lot of late goals recently and it's been costing us, but we've played well at times. Results don't always reflect performances
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"We've had the worst luck, and it's been demoralising at times, but that luck was going to change sooner or later.
"We've also been playing a slightly different system this season.
"Last year there was more emphasis on the defensive side of midfield for me, tackling and cutting things out.
"This season has involved a more all-round game, for me and Manse [captain Lee Mansell], and I thought we produced that against Exeter.
"We've got 19 games left to get ourselves back up the table and, if we can go on a little run now, I don't think the play-offs are out of reach."
United ended a run of six npower League Two games without a win when Rene Howe's first-half penalty, his 13th goal of the season, proved enough to win on Monday.
Howe had also scored from the spot in the 1-1 draw at Plainmoor 13 days before.
"I don't miss penalties," he quipped after sending Artur Krysiak the wrong way for the second time.
It was a night to remember for assistant manager Shaun Taylor, standing in for absent boss Martin Ling and up against the club where he made his name as a player.
"I'm proud that our players did a man's job. It was a worthy win," said Taylor. "I thought we gave a spirited performance, but also got the ball down and passed it well at times.
"Man for man, we were excellent. The midfield players got their bodies in there when they had to, but the whole team defended well.
"We have conceded late goals recently, like against Burton and Northampton, when we should have won both those games. No doubt that came into all the players' minds, but we had the same people marking the same people as two weeks ago, and they stuck to their task very well."
Taylor added: "There was a lot on the game – Sky were here, Exeter is my old club and they're going well – they would have gone back into the top-three if they'd won.
"I said to our players before the game that we would jump up five places if we won – it doesn't sound a lot, but it's still an important result for us.
"We've got games in hand, but it's no good having those if you don't win them."
Ling was resting at home in Hertfordshire yesterday after illness forced him to miss the Devon derby.
He is believed to have undergone hospital tests for a possible virus-related condition, and is now awaiting the results. Taylor, who ran the team in Ling's absence on Monday, said: "It may be a virus, and we all hope that Martin is better soon and back with us."
Ling took a final training session before the Exeter match at Plainmoor last Sunday morning, but Taylor had to tell the United players the next day that Ling would have to miss the game itself.
Torquay's next match is away to Cheltenham Town on Saturday, and it is not known whether Ling will be back in charge by then.