FOR the visit of league leaders Gillingham, Argyle boss Carl Fletcher made several changes to his starting line-up to freshen things after a four-match match run.Perhaps the most notable alteration was the inclusion of goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin in place of usual first choice Jake Cole, for the big Irishman’s first start in a league game for the Pilgrims.
“He did okay,” said Carl of Rene, “He didn’t have a great deal to do, really. He’s come in and it’s his first league game for us, so it would have been nice to get a win for him.
“I spoke to Jake in the week and it was just a case of just going with your gut. I said to Jake ‘I don’t know if this is the right decision or not, but I’m going with my gut instinct.’ I think sometimes you have to do that.”
Prior to Saturday, summer recruit Gilmartin had started the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy game against Aldershot and the FA Cup defeat at Dorchester. He now could have a run in the first team in the league to stake his claim as Argyle’s regular custodian.
Fletch said: “He’s had a few injuries – in pre-season and early in the season – that’s he’s had to deal with. It’s been frustrating for him. It’s come down here and wants to be 100% fit so he can give a good accounting of himself and push for a place.
“Reg has played league football before, he’s 6ft 5in, and has a real presence about him. The more games he plays he’ll only get better and better.
“If you’re fair to one you’ve got to be fair to the other. There might have been times in the past where we could have left Jake out, but you stick by him because it’s a decision you make and you keep going.
“I’m really lucky because I’ve got two real good goalies here who both work their socks off in training and are very professional. I’m very lucky I’ve got both of them.”
Fletch also made an alteration to the back four, with Darren Purse returning to the side to partner Curtis Nelson, rather than Maxime Blanchard.
“The fact is we haven’t had a clean sheet in 14 games now - we needed to change something,” said Carl.
“I thought we coped well with a difficult strike force today. We won our headers.
“After they got their equaliser in the first half and after their equaliser in the second half we looked a little bit shaky, which we’ve been trying to work on, and we’ve said to the players it doesn’t really change, they’ve still got to the basics right.
“I thought the effort they put in today as a group of players, and as a group of men, was really pleasing to see.”