Gary Owers rued Torquay United’s missed chances as the Gulls fell to a 2-0 home defeat to Hartlepool, despite an impressive first-half performance at Plainmoor.

United were the better side for large spells of the opening 45 minutes, playing with confidence after the midweek win away at Ebbsfleet but were unable to take their chances while on top.

The visitors took control in the second half, slowing the pace of the game down before taking the lead with 54 minutes on the clock as Rhys Oates headed in from close range.

Jonathan Franks doubled their lead with just over 20 minutes to play, sending a long-range strike past Vincent Dorel after a deflection from Sean McGinty.

“It’s very easy to be negative and react off the result,” said Owers. “I thought in the first half we played really well and created enough chances to win the game. That’s a weakness of ours that we couldn’t take those chances when they were on offer and paid the consequences in the second half.

“The game went into a little bit of a lull with the stoppage. Hartlepool were down to 10 men and slowed the game right down and obviously, we were punished with what I think was their first shot on target.”

Josh McQuoid had one of United’s best chances of the game, forcing Hartlepool’s Scott Loach into a brilliant save during the first half. Jamie Reid also had a couple sights on goal but United were unable to find a way past the Hartlepool goalkeeper.

“The players are given the opportunity to take them or you try and find someone who can take them. It’s as simple as that. I will say, I’ve seen that goal too many times against us. A cross from the left wing that’s not stopped. He goes in there with much more intent than our defenders and we’re chasing the game from that point.”

“You have to make better decisions when you’re on the ball. In the first half, we executed set plays, we knew what we were doing. Then the pressure goes on a little bit because we’re two goals down. It’s a little bit tougher when you’re losing, especially when you’re playing at home and there shouldn’t be any pressure. The fans are on our side, they’re there to encourage us and they have done.”

United now have a short break with the latest round of FA Cup fixtures coming up next weekend. Owers says he some players to leave on loan before the meeting with Maidenhead in an attempt to re-build some match fitness.

“Some of them have to do some work, some of them need a rest, so some will get an extra day off on Monday, that’s a consequence of the three games and the travelling. I have to have a think about possibly bringing a couple of players in or looking at other options.

“Some of the lads that need to have a think about how they’re going to get fit because there are no games here. My advice would be ‘go and get yourselves away for a month’. My current raft of loan players will be leaving in the same week in December and I need as many players as possible match fit and available.”

Story by Ryan Darby