Martin Ling is frustrated as inconsistency stops Torquay United making progress
"I feel as if we are taking one step forward and one back all the time," said frustrated Torquay United manager Martin Ling after his ten-man Gulls had staged a fightback and then lost 3-2 in the Westcountry derby at Bristol Rovers.
"We are looking like a mid-table team at the moment, and I feel we are better than that.
"Our inconsistency is a worry at the moment. One minute we look scintillating, and the next minute we look rubbish. We still haven't put back-to-back wins together since March – that says it all."
Ling had no sympathy for his players after a first half which saw Rovers dominate, lead 2-0 and United defender Joe Oastler sent off after half-an-hour.
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"We started poorly, and I'd say that only Brian Saah performed to the levels we expect in the first half," said Ling.
"There was no tempo to our game. It's down to us to do the simple things right, and we didn't.
"I thought Joe Oastler's first booking was a definite and, although the second was a soft one and you might get away with it at home, he started sloppily and got his just desserts.
"He was one of the ten who were pretty damn rubbish in the first half, to be honest.
"We were terrible on the ball in all areas. We also gifted them the first goal and for the second, our 'wall' wasn't in the greatest position in the world.
"You're not expected to come back from that with ten men, but I laid into the players at half-time and we have got character in our dressing room.
"I give my players credit for the second half, and there was a feeling that it could go either way when we got back at them, but at 2-2 it shook them back into life a bit.
"I don't want a team that does it when there's nothing to lose – psychologically, that's too easy to do. It's at the start of games that you really have to do it.
"We were 3-0 down against Aldershot and scored four, but you can't keep pulling rabbits out of the hat."
Defender Aaron Downes, who scored for Torquay against his old club, said: "A chaotic five minutes in the first half did us in.
"We were just starting to get a foothold in the game. We conceded a poor first goal – Michael [Poke] and I should have dealt with it between us – and we'll have to have a look at what happened with the free-kick.
"Then Joe [Oastler] gets sent off a few minutes later, and you wonder: 'What the hell's going on?' We got it off the gaffer at half-time.
"Then Rene [Howe] has scored an unbelievable goal, and a memorable one for him in the club's history, and I've got one against the club where I played last season, and we thought then we might see out the game.
"It's frustrating that we didn't, but we've got a game against Gillingham on Tuesday to bounce back. We need to keep our home form going."