Shaun Taylor tips Rene Howe to respond at Aldershot
Shaun Taylor has full confidence in the finishing prowess of Rene Howe, even though Torquay United's leading scorer apologised to his team-mates for missing a key chance in Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Rochdale.
The 19th-placed Gulls hit the road again tonight for an even more important League Two game, away to one-from-bottom Aldershot Town (7.45pm), and assistant manager Taylor, who remains in charge during team boss Martin Ling's ongoing illness, is backing Howe.
The former Peterborough striker tried one of his trademark chips, when he had Josh Lillis to beat after only seven minutes at the weekend, but the advancing Dale goalkeeper tipped his shot behind.
"Rene was apologetic afterwards, but those sort of things happen to the best strikers," said Taylor. "I hope he gets in again in a similar position against Aldershot, because I'd back him to put it away."
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Howe, who's scored 14 goals this season, had also just returned from a two-match suspension.
In the next couple of days United are expected to announce the name of the man "with managerial experience" whom they want to help Taylor as they try to halt a worrying slump of one win and only six points from 11 games.
"We've got to get out of this situation, and sooner rather than later," said Taylor.
"Our defence is giving us a chance in games. If we were getting thumped and thumped, it might be different – and fingers-crossed that won't happen.
"People may say that at Rochdale we didn't have enough chances, but even there we had a very good one before they scored.
"We had plenty of chances against Fleetwood and Rotherham last week, probably more than in the five games prior to that, but we are not taking our opportunities at the moment.
"It's a bit doom-and-gloom, because on a Sunday morning you look at the league table and it says we are not moving anywhere.
"But some of the teams down at the bottom have been in the same sort of run we've been on for longer."
The Rochdale crowd may not have thrown up many clues about the identity of Taylor's would-be 'consultant', but any seriously interested parties will surely be at the Recreation Ground tonight.
When Aldershot came to Plainmoor in early-October, it turned into one of the most remarkable games that Plainmoor has seen for many years.
A Craig Reid hat-trick gave the Shots a 3-0 lead just after half-time, but United hit back to win 4-3 with goals by Howe, Billy Bodin and substitutes Ryan Jarvis and Ashley Yeoman.
"I wouldn't mind the same outcome again," said Taylor, "but I'm not sure it would do the old nerves any good."
Although skipper Lee Mansell and centre-back Aaron Downes didn't train yesterday, Taylor is optimistic that both will be fit tonight.
Mansell sustained a kick on the wound of a recent knee injury, while Downes needed four stitches in a gash on the left side of his head.
"Aaron was bleeding profusely, but Rochdale's club doctor was very thorough and quick," said Taylor.
Aldershot's 1-1 draw at Cheltenham on Saturday cost them former Yeovil Town left-back Anthony Tonkin, who was sent off and is now suspended for tonight's clash.
Manager Dean Holdsworth may introduce ex-Leyton Orient and Chesterfield defender Terrell Forbes, one of several signings he's made in recent weeks in an effort to preserve their League status.
The bottom club, AFC Wimbledon, also entertain promotion-chasing Northampton Town, while Bristol Rovers will hope to continue their improvement under new manager John Ward against Rotherham.
Torquay United (from): Poke, Rice; Leadbitter, Saah, Downes, Nicholson, Easton, Mansell, Craig, Jarvis, Bodin, Howe, Benyon, Macklin, Stevens, Lathrope, MacDonald, Cruise, Yeoman, McKenzie, Halpin, N Thompson, Baker, Morris.