Fleet boss Kevin Watson had warm words for his current centre-halves – Marvel Ekpiteta and Ayo Obileye – as he resisted the temptation to put skipper Jack King back in that role, preferring him to sit in front of the back line.
“I thought my two centre halves were absolutely outstanding,” Watson said. “Even in defeat against Harrogate last week they were probably my two outstanding players. King’s Lynn the week before when we were down to 10 men for 73 minutes they were outstanding as well and I’ll tell them that. When boys need telling they’re outstanding, they’ll be told.
“Having said that, I thought every single player put in a shift today. It’s easy to throw the towel in when you’re in the position we’re in but I think everyone can see these boys are not doing that and I’ve got big players not in the team either suspended or injured this afternoon. I had four subs, that’s where we’re at so I’m delighted with what they’ve produced today.”
And while the draw kept the gap to 21st place to eight points, Watson had few complaints with the clean sheet at Plainmoor.
“If you don’t get beat and you keep a clean sheet, you say it’s a good performance,” said the manager. “I was absolutely delighted with our performance today. I did want more threat but I thought our two forwards were a handful all afternoon, they carried out what I asked them to do. We didn’t have loads of attempts but you come to a place like this and I don’t think Torquay did either.
“I can’t count too many world-class saves our goalkeeper’s had to pull off. People will say it’s a scrappy game. When you’re fighting for your lives and you have what’s going on behind the scenes at our place going on and the players produce that, I can’t be anything other than proud of what they’ve produced today.”
Watson was down to bare bones with Frankie Sutherland out, Myles Weston still unfit and new signing Michael Timlin missing out. And the manager threw light on that in his post-match comments.
“We’re under an embargo,” he revealed. “He signed, his registration was put to the FA who allowed it to go through but the National League put a block on it for reasons I prefer not to go into. It’s not down to me. An internal issue regarding our club [needs to be] settled outside; a bill needs paying.
“At the moment, I’m led to believe it’s a seven-day embargo, that’s all I know. I can’t come out here and dress it up in any way, shape or form. He was signed on Wednesday as the world and his wife saw on social media and our website. I got a call yesterday to say Michael wouldn’t be available for the game today which is a big blow because he will make a massive difference to my team.
“Again, it’s something that’s out of my hands. We were on the coach and travelling and I only had the bare 16 anyway so it meant we were going to be down to 15. But that’s an issue not for me to solve, I can only play the boys that are signed.
“Michael being the pro he is and having had the career he is, when I found out he’d only been on the bus 10 minutes, I said if you want to get off at the next stop and spend the weekend with your family, I will not stand in your way. But the pro he is, he wanted to be around the lads, he was vocal on the bench, he was brilliant in training on Thursday and he didn’t want to get off, he wanted to stay with us.”