Torquay United player-manager, Kevin Nicholson refused to get too carried away after his side’s 2-0 victory over York City on Saturday afternoon.
Two goals from Nathan Blissett secured all three points for United and speaking after the victory, Nicholson admitted he was happy with what he saw during stages of the game at Plainmoor.
“I was happy with the first half, I thought we were very good in the first half. The truth is, I think we’ve been very good for that last four or five games, but everybody in football, whether you’re in right in the middle of it, or you’re a fan, or anything else, you get way to carried away one way or another.
You win a game and we’re going to win the league, we lose a game, and its doom and gloom. The fact is those boys have been gelling very well over the last few weeks and they’re starting to get there. There’s a long way to go. You can see the chemistry within them building every week.
You don’t play the kind of football we played in the first half, if you don’t know each other well, and if you’d have watched us train this week, that was just the norm and it was a pleasure to watch, it was a pleasure to be part of.”
Despite going into half-time leading by two goals, Nicholson admits he was disappointed with the second-half performance, revealing there are lessons to be learnt off the back of the win.
“I’m very disappointed with the second half. You could tell at half time, you try to ground them, but they were so pleased to put two past them. They were so happy with how they’ve played; it was relief more than confidence. I think we went out and didn’t get anywhere near our standards. We didn’t do what we normally do well.
On another day, if they’d have had a little more fortune, or a little bit more quality maybe in front of goal, they might have nicked one and then it would’ve been a nervous last 10 [minutes]. I understand the nerves, because you’ve conceded late last week, you’ve conceded against Barrow, it’s human nature.
“I also forget how young our team is a lot of the time, we haven’t got a group of 28-year-olds that are full of experience, that know how to close games out. We’ve got a group that’s learning all aspects of the game, but in some ways I think it’s a good thing. In some ways, if it had been too easy for us today, I think maybe we would have gone away thinking we’re better than what we are.”
Nicholson identified tiredness and fatigue as possible reasons behind the Gulls’ dip in form in the second half, but was full of praise for Dan Sparkes and on-loan striker, Jamie Reid for their performances both against York and in recent games.
“I think one or two of the lads looked a bit tired, they’ve put a hell of a lot in this week. I think they’ve put a hell of a lot in full stop and really ran themselves into the floor. Sparksey, I think had blown up at that point, he’d had a lot of the ball in the second half and created some decent opportunities and the same with Wardey, he had another good game, but he’s a young lad and he’s playing first-team football for the first time.
So it does take it out of them, but we’ve got quality players to bring on. There was good stuff, but we need to make sure we live in the moment, I think we went out in the second half and played like we were thinking about the first half.”
United’s player-manager hailed the game’s only scorer as a ‘beast’ after he broke his duck for the season with two goals that lifted the Gulls above York in the table.
“Naturally, he was affected by the fact he hadn’t scored. I think, if you noticed, he was about six inches taller after the first goal went in. He works so hard for the team, he’s a beast. He does everything, we’re asking the guy to run 70-80 yards every time we get a corner or they get a corner, to attack or defend it.
He’s an absolute monster in both boxes, he got his reward today and he maybe could’ve had another one or two. It would’ve been lovely to see him get a hat-trick, so I’m absolutely delighted for him but like I said to him and Reidy before the game, I think they’ve both been out standing for the last three games. The work they’ve put in helps us defend. If they do that, then the others have then got to put a few more chances on the plate for them.
“Hopefully that will be the start for him now and he can be and go on a run like he did last year, but if he keeps playing to the level that he’s been playing, I don’t care if doesn’t score full stop. The team will win games because of the work he puts in and that’s what is most important.”
After winning three of their last four games, Nicholson couldn’t help but look to the future and the player-manager was feeling optimistic about what is ahead for his current crop of players.
“I’m excited with the group I’ve got, it’s the best group I’ve had. They’re all good people and hard workers. They all want to be better and like I said, if you’d have seen training the last two weeks, you can see a marked improvement, they’re learning each other’s strengths.
They now know where and when you should give your mate the ball because you know their skills set. Some of the football in the first half, I thought it was absolutely magnificent, the way they were moving the ball around. That just comes from getting to know each other and you can’t force chemistry.
“I was excited after the Lincoln game, I said it to them the very next day. ‘I know we lost the game, but you showed me that you can compete with one of the teams that’s going to be up there, fighting for the league, that in this moment in time, have more resources than us’. We’ve got a small high quality squad, we’re going to have to keep them fit.
Once they get over the nerves of holding on to a lead and making sure that they seen games out, like a mature team would, then I think we’ll have every chance. We’re a work in progress, we’re nowhere near the finished article. That’s why I am excited by what I saw, but we have got to learn our lessons.”