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Knill: Poke over Rice was 'tough decision'

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 19, 2013

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GULLS boss Alan Knill described his recall of Michael Poke for Martin Rice in goal for the 1-0 upset win over Southend United as 'one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make'.

Rice had played every game of the season so far, most of them while Poke (pictured above) was recovering from a torn thigh muscle, and few had blamed the former Exeter and Truro City 'keeper for what was, before last Saturday, the worst defensive record in the division.

But 14 goals conceded in the previous nine games finally prompted Knill to make a change.

"Martin has been fantastic for me, so it was a tough call – one of the toughest I've ever had to make – and tough telling him he wasn't playing," said Knill.

"He took it as he should have taken it – he didn't like it, he said he didn't agree with it, but he would support Michael all the way.

"Martin is a real good person to have around the club.

"You have to make calls like that as a manager and, fortunately for me, we had a clean sheet and it worked out well."

Of his team's performance, Knill said: "If you're involved in a dogfight, the first thing you have to do is fight.

"We all knew how important it was, and I thought we were good value for the win."

Southend manager Phil Brown did not mince his words.

"I am bitterly disappointed for the players, but also with the players.

"It's all about bottle and pressure, and you've got to give Torquay credit – they are fighting for their lives, and they won the battle.

"So we got what we deserved."

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