Lee Mansell bids to mark milestone by leading Torquay United to Wembley
By Western Morning News | Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 08:00
Captain Lee Mansell is determined to mark a personal career landmark by leading Torquay United to a stirring comeback victory over Cheltenham Town in this week's npower League Two play-offs semi-final.
Torquay captain Lee Mansell
Thursday's second leg at Plainmoor, in which the Gulls need to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit, will be Mansell's 300th appearance for the club, making him only the 14th player in United's 84-year senior history to reach that milestone.
The former Luton Town and Oxford United midfielder can add another 113 games for the Hatters and Oxford to his Torquay tally, leaving him on 412 league and cup appearances in total.
"It's brilliant to reach 300 games here, and what a match to do it in," said Gloucester-born Mansell, 29, United's longest-serving player.
"I'm convinced we can still do the job on Thursday. I don't think Cheltenham are better than us – I thought Sunday [first leg] was a classic case of them taking their chances and us not taking ours.
"I'm sure we'll have more chances yet, and it's up to us to take them. If we keep believing, we can pull this off yet."
Mansell, who is now in his sixth season at Plainmoor, still has some way to go to approach the club appearances record held by former team-mate Kevin Hill.
Hill bowed out in 2008, after making his record-beating 474th appearance at Wembley, in the FA Trophy final against Ebbsfleet United. It took Hill, who is still playing for Tiverton Town at the age of 36, 12 years to break the Plainmoor record.
Torquay manager Martin Ling will take a fitness report first thing this morning, when his squad will reassemble to prepare for the second leg against the Robins.
Centre-forward Rene Howe is definitely out with the hamstring injury which forced his withdrawal early in last Sunday's game at Whaddon Road, but winger Danny Stevens is expected back after a bout of sickness.
Thursday's second leg is not all-ticket on the Popular Side terrace, but it is in the Family Stand, where United still have some seats left.