Knill encouraged by his side as Gulls suffer sixth straight loss
His first match may have ended in defeat, but Torquay United's new interim manager Alan Knill believes more than ever that the Gulls can stave off the threat of relegation from npower League Two.
"I wouldn't be here otherwise, and I'm more confident from what I've seen on the pitch so far," said the former Rotherham United, Bury and Scunthorpe United boss after the Gulls' 1-0 loss to promotion-chasing Port Vale at Plainmoor. He added: "We had plenty of chances, especially in the first half, and I thought the players were excellent.
"If they keep giving that sort of commitment, I believe we'll be OK, but we just need a bit more quality and fine tuning.
"We played a top of the league team and competed well, and on the whole there were quite a few positives."
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However, Knill has no intention of allowing United to think that they have achieved anything yet.
"It's no good thinking it's OK to lose only 1-0 to a team at the top of the league – it's not," he said.
"We are a passing team, and, once we started to go long, it suited Port Vale.
"In the second half we went from back to front pretty quickly, and it suited McCombe and Purse in the middle of their defence.
"If you're not careful, you can get into the old 'that's how it's going for us at the moment' attitude.
"That's no good. We had enough chances in the game, and it's up to us to make our own luck."
Knill praised the efforts of right-back Danny Leadbitter and substitute centre-back Angus MacDonald.
"Angus was ill last night, and Danny wasn't feeling great either – there must be a bug going round at the moment," he revealed.
"Angus especially looked as if he was struggling, so credit to him for digging in there."
Knill hinted that, if senior centre-back Aaron Downes' hamstring injury proves serious after a scan today, he may be forced to make a defender his first target in the loan transfer market, possibly before tomorrow night's game against Wycombe Wanderers at Plainmoor.
Vale manager Micky Adams felt that the result was vindication for his criticism of a section of supporters who had slammed the team after their 1-0 home defeat by Morecambe in their previous match.
"We lost one game of football last week, and some of the hysteria that followed was amazing," he grumbled.
"We had a massive response to all that, from a group of players who rolled their sleeves up on a difficult pitch.
"Torquay gave it a good go, and there were two teams that wanted to attack, which makes a nice change. But we have answered a few critics."