ARGYLE manager John Sheridan was the least shocked – but possibly the most delighted – man at the Kassam Stadium......as the Pilgrims triumphed 3-2 over Sky Bet League 2 high-flyers Oxford United on Boxing Day.
Caolan Lavery opened the scoring for Argyle within a minute after half-time and, when that strike was levelled midway though the half by Asa Hall, two goals by Reuben Reid – the first, a penalty – gave the Pilgrims a two-goal lead at a ground where they had never won.
A late own goal by Argyle defender Neal Trotman made for a slightly nervy final ten minutes before the Pilgrims celebrated only their second victory in 19 visits to Oxford.
“I think we fully deserved to win the game, I really do,” said John.
“We had good chances, other than the goals, as well. To come and beat a team like Oxford who are really positive and confident in the way they are playing…We have come and matched a team who are up there so, hopefully it will give us a lot of belief.
“I am not surprised because I think we have been playing quite well. I have said it before, after games against Burton and Chesterfield, teams we have played who are above us, that I think, on our day, we can match any of them.
“I think we are getting a bit of consistency and a bit of belief in the way I want them to play. It’s all about desire and wanting to be a winner.
“I really enjoyed the game. We were really lively on the break; we defended really well. I was disappointed because we matched [Oxford] in all areas but we gave the ball away cheaply when we had it in the opposition’s half.
“They put us under a lot of pressure in the last ten minutes. We defended balls going into our box. They have got some players who are a right handful and I thought we coped with that.
“The most important thing, like I always say, is getting the three points. It’s a good stat to Christmas and the New Year.”
With the Oxford win following three home points from the 2-1 pre-Christmas defeat of Bury, Argyle have now climbed to 13th place in League 2. Next up is a trip to face AFC Wimbledon this weekend.
“I think we have showed today anyone who has watched us that we’re a decent team,” said John, “but I will never get carried away – we have won two games. Six points is a good start to Christmas and the New Year. We have got to continue that into the Wimbledon game.
“You have just got to get on a run of games. This league is a funny league – anyone can beat anyone, it doesn’t matter who you play. It’s a very evenly-matched league and, if you can start wining games and getting on a little run, you find yourself climbing the table. Then, when you look at the table, it gives you a bit of confidence and you think ‘We’ve got a little chance, here’.”
However, John will make sure feet remain firmly on the floor.
“First and foremost, we’re trying to get away from relegation and take points away from the teams at the bottom,” he said. “I will make sure no-one gets carried away because we haven’t done anything whatsoever, but it’s good to come and beat one of the best teams in the league with a really good performance.
“People were talking about me before the two games we have just won – I didn’t really know what I was doing – so I won’t get carried away.
“I’ll never change. I want to be successful. I want us to do well and I want us to be high up in the table, to give ourselves an opportunity of going where we want to go. That’s all I want to do. And I’ll work my socks off to do that.”