Torquay United captain Lee Mansell in the mood to finish off in style
By Western Morning News | Wednesday, May 02, 2012, 08:00
Captain Lee Mansell says his player of the year award has given him the perfect boost ahead of Torquay United's promotion battle at Hereford United on Saturday.
Lee Mansell. Picture by Pinnacle
Goalscoring midfielder Mansell pipped goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik to clinch the honour, only a week after joining Olejnik, Eunan O'Kane and Kevin Nicholson in the Professional Footballers' Association League Two select XI for the season.
"This is the third time I've been player of the year as a professional – I got it at Oxford the year I left there  and here at Torquay the following season. I was also young player of the year at Luton before that," said Mansell, 29. "But two things make this the best of the lot.
"Oxford and ourselves both went down in the years I won it, while we've done really well this time. And," he added, "this season there were so many strong candidates, and to finish top with the supporters makes me even prouder because of that."
Mansell, who is coming to the end of his sixth season at Plainmoor, has added 13 goals to his industry and leadership of the Gulls.
He added: "Goals have been spread around this season, but it's good that three of us – Rene Howe , Danny Stevens [ten] and myself – have scored 37 between us. Bobby Olejnik has had a fantastic season. Nico [Kevin Nicholson] has been brilliantly consistent. For a winger to get ten goals as Danny has is great, and there were several more who deserved an award. This just tops off getting into the PFA side. Now I'm desperate to go up to complete the set.
"Saturday against Crewe [a 1-1 draw at Plainmoor] was a strange day for everyone – it went well for so long, and it was a real stunner when they equalised so late.
"The lads were down afterwards, no doubt about it, but we've put that behind us now and we're all looking forward to Hereford.
"It's a huge prize, and we're ready to give it everything."
Torquay (fourth) must win at Edgar Street and hope that Crawley Town (third) do not win at Accrington Stanley. Southend United, a point behind in fifth place, are odds-on to beat relegated Macclesfield Town at home, and Paul Sturrock's men are waiting to pounce on any mistakes above them.
At Plainmoor tonight (7pm) Torquay's reserves meet Bideford in a friendly which may be more important than it looks at face value.
The Gulls' manager, Martin Ling, wants to look at two trialists who are training with the club – experienced midfielder Craig Easton, for a second game, and young Cardiff City defender Adam Davies, for a first.
Striker Michael Nardiello might also have played, but he is claimed for Tiverton Town's Westinsure Devon St Luke's Cup final against Buckland Athletic at Homers Heath tonight (7.45pm). "It also keeps players who haven't had much football ticking along, just in case they're needed for the play-offs," added Ling.