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Torquay United to go on the attack in an attempt to reverse their poor form

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 26, 2013

Torquay's assistant Shaun Taylor (left) and interim manager Alan Knill joined forces for the first time for the Gulls' match against Port Vale last Saturday   picture: Phil Mingo/Pinnacle

Torquay's assistant Shaun Taylor (left) and interim manager Alan Knill joined forces for the first time for the Gulls' match against Port Vale last Saturday picture: Phil Mingo/Pinnacle

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Interim manager Alan Knill will put the accent on attack in his efforts to haul struggling Torquay United out of the losing streak which is dragging them towards the npower League Two relegation zone.

In the wake of their sixth successive defeat, 1-0 at home to second-placed Port Vale at the weekend, the Gulls now face two key matches against teams in the bottom half of the table: Wycombe Wanderers at Plainmoor tonight (7.45pm) and Accrington Stanley at the Crown Ground on Saturday.

"We need to take something out of these next two games," stressed United's new caretaker chief.

"It's important, when you're on a losing run as we are, that you must first stop that losing run," Knill added.

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"I've been in these sort of positions at nearly every club I've been at. The way to get out of it is to be attacking, not defensive.

"Everyone assumes that you're going to play five at the back, that sort of stuff, and try and tighten things up. But we were beaten by a deflected shot last Saturday, and that sort of thing can happen to any defence.

"Anyway, it's not just a defence or an attack thing – it's the team that scores the goals and the team that keeps them out.

"I want to let our players, and we have some quality ones, have the freedom to go and play. We're going to try and move the ball around the pitch, and attack.

"If you keep creating chances, the chances are that it's going to go in than not.

"I know it may sound like the same old words, but I thought the performance was OK against Port Vale.

"We were quite unlucky with their goal, and it was one of only three shots they had on target in the match.

"You could see the players were committed, which is all you can ask. That gives you a chance, and we must have that all the time.

"But now we also need more shots, more crosses and more danger in the top half of the pitch."

Knill knows that United must tackle the next few games without the man who has probably been their most consistent player this season, centre-back Aaron Downes.

Downes is likely to be out for a fortnight with the hamstring injury which forced his withdrawal against Vale. That will prompt Knill to try and sign a replacement.

"We were looking anyway to strengthen in other positions, but another one will be enforced now," said Knill, who will wait on fitness tests for on-loan striker Elliot Benyon (knee) and midfielder Craig Easton (calf muscle), 34 today, before finalising tonight's team.

"I thought young [substitute] Angus MacDonald did OK at the weekend, especially as he wasn't feeling 100 per cent, and we also have [first-year professional] Kirtys McKenzie, but we will need someone to come in.

"We are actively looking at the moment – I've been on the phone over the weekend, and I'm just waiting for people to get back to me.

"I'm not a big believer in having loan players on the bench, so it's important we get the right ones."

Knill and assistant manager Shaun Taylor, who celebrates his 50th birthday today, went on a scouting mission last night, and the first new faces are expected to arrive before Saturday's crucial trip north to face one-from-bottom Accrington.

Veteran winger Gareth Ainsworth had just taken over as caretaker player-manager when Wycombe beat Torquay 2-1 at Adams Park in October.

He has been given the proper job since then, hauling the Chairboys out of the relegation zone and into mid-table with a good run through the depths of winter.

Torquay United (from): Poke, Rice; Leadbitter, Saah, MacDonald, Nicholson, Easton, Mansell, Jarvis, Bodin, Howe, Benyon, Lathrope, Macklin, Cruise, Yeoman, N Thompson, Oastler, Stevens, Craig, McKenzie, Halpin, Morris, Baker.

Unavailable: Downes (hamstring).

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