TORQUAY’S Lee Mansell is coming to terms with the pain of relegation from the Football League for the second year running.
The 24-year old midfielder was at Oxford United last season and moved to Plainmoor last summer with high hopes of a successful campaign under then Gulls boss Ian Atkins.
Mansell, who signed a two-year deal with Torquay, said: “It was a huge shock for everyone at Oxford.
“But it feels exactly the same now, regardless of the size of the two clubs.
“I’m just the unfortunate one that it’s happened to twice in two years.
“I didn’t come to the club to be relegated, or be involved in a dogfight.
“When I spoke to Ian (Atkins) in the summer, he was hoping we might be challenging this year instead of scrapping.
“And before he left we were just outside the play-offs.
“Things were looking quite good, and we had a decent squad of players.
“Then it all kicked off, and it’s been all downwards ever since.
“There have been distractions, with the circus that was behind the scenes, but you’ve got to be so strong-willed to push it out of your mind as soon as you cross that white line for 90 minutes.
“Losing Trigger (Mickey Evans) and Jamie (Ward) definitely cost us.
“But although everyone can use what’s gone on as an excuse, you’ve got to stay focused on your own job.
“In some ways I feel as if I’ve let myself down, making mistakes I never normally do.
“Quite a few teams in this division have chucked money at it for better quality players, but I think we’ve more than held our own against most of the top sides with the squad we’ve got.
“But we’ve just cost ourselves with silly mistakes – we’ve probably dropped something like 30 points in the last ten minutes of games.”
Looking ahead, Mansell added: “At the moment, the club couldn’t survive another year like this.
“But going down could be a blessing for the club.
“I know it’s harder being out of the League, but if it’s the start of a real change, then maybe it can be turned into something better.
“You can’t sit back and moan about it. The only way is up.”