Torquay United head coach Gary Owers believes the first-half performance let his side down on Saturday as the Gulls fell to a 1-0 home defeat to Maidstone.

The visitors took the lead after 30 minutes through striker Joe Pigott, who delicately curled a free-kick past Vincent Dorel.

United dominated large spells of the second half but were unable to break through a resilient Maidstone defence.

Speaking to the press after the game, Owers spoke of his frustration after two contrasting performances in either half. “It’s another defeat at home, I can’t have two performances that are opposite, that are poles apart,” said Owers.

“To come out and perform at the level they did in the second half, where was that in the first half? Everyone might look at the second half performance and say that was much improved but that’s not good enough. I need that over 90 minutes. I’ve told them I’m not fooled by what I’ve seen in the second half.

“I’m not being mugged off by 45 minutes of good football, no way. The supporters won’t be mugged off either by the way. Some of them have stayed behind to applaud us and I thank them for that. We are in a bad position, but I think that’s an opportunity missed. I think Maidstone are a good side, but I thought there was something there for us.

“We’re not getting results. Fair play to the manager [Jay Saunders]. I’m not being rude but I’m getting fed up of the handshaking and the ‘oh you’re really good and you’ll get out of it’, that’s no good to me, I want some points. As a player, I didn’t like getting beat and I am a bad loser, things have got to change in their mentality. It might be a bit of confidence or a little bit of luck but it has to be something.”

Owers challenged his squad to show the same level of hunger and fight over a 90-minute period.

“I see some fight. I don’t want to destroy the players, I want to try and build some confidence if possible, but there has to be some minimum standards. At half time, they walked in, there was no fight. No one said anything, they were quiet, they looked like a beaten team.

“At the end of the game, they come in and there’s a few water bottles getting flung and a skip getting kicked, the door getting punched. Where was that at half time? I don’t mind all that, some of it is for show, I know that, but at least it sends out a message that they care and I didn’t feel that at half time.

“It’s going to be a fight and no one said it was going to be pretty. I’ve been in this situation before so I’ll keep my nerve. I’m the leader and I will lead. I’ll carry the fight but the players have to come and fight with us.”

Story by Ryan Darby