WHEN you lose by a single goal on a Saturday, then lose by a single goal again three days later, you might expect the reaction to each defeat to be somewhat similar.However, after the relative doom and gloom following a poor Sky Bet League 2 performance in losing 1-0 at Southend on the opening day of the season, the 3-2 defeat at Birmingham City in the Capital One Cup first round actually left many Pilgrims with a sense of optimism.
It took an extra-time winner by Kyle Bartley to win the tie for City, after a pair of Scott Allan goals for the home side – either side of a Jake Cole penalty save from Lee Novak – were matched by a brace from Argyle’s Lewis Alessandra.
Had it been an FA Cup encounter, the Blues would be heading to Home Park for a replay they might not fancy.
Argyle showed levels of character, work-rate and – above all – ability that were sorely lacking at Roots Hall some 75 hours or so earlier. Away from home, still gelling and facing a Championship outfit, this was hardly a shameful evening.
John Sheridan, accordingly, took some pride from the game, though admittedly tinged with a few regrets.
“The big plus from the game is the performance,” he said. “The players have responded really well.
“I’m very pleased with the performance. It’s just a shame we didn’t get anything out of the game.
“The performance was a massive improvement and it’s that level of performance that we have to take into our league programme.
“The first goal, after the break, we switched off. Our shape was okay and we were defending well, and then five minutes later we go out and concede. Then Jake’s made a great save from the penalty.
“In extra-time you say: ‘Go on – believe, because we’re right in this game’. But we switched off again.
“We believed we could get something out of the game, and we came back from behind twice. That’s a good thing – we showed character. Even at 3-2, we kept pushing. We weren’t frightened of trying to get the equaliser.”
On Saturday, Fleetwood Town visit Devon for the Pilgrims’ first home game of the Sky Bet League 2 season, and the manager knows he has plenty to do before the Cod Away wash up in PL2.
Plenty of hours travelling to two fixtures plus half an hour more football than initially anticipated isn’t ideal, but John believes he can get it right come Saturday.
“There’s a lot of tired legs in there; they’re aching,” he said. “But we’ll rest them as much as we can to get them prepared for Saturday’s game.
“It’s our first home game. I’d love to get off to a winning start for our support. I thought our support was unbelievable tonight. They’re unbelievable, the way they get behind the team.
“I think they got behind the team the way they did because they saw the effort the players were putting in. I would have loved to have just got to penalties and given us something to shout about.
“But we’ve just got to carry on improving out performances. It wasn’t the result on Saturday against Southend, it was the way we played, because I know we’re a lot better team than that.
“And I think, tonight, showed it. If we play like that we’ll be alright in our division.”