John Bemoans Sucker Punch

JOHN Sheridan admitted that the controversial goal that sent Argyle to the bottom of the Football League knocked the stuffing out of his players.

Argyle had competed well with – and often outplayed – Northampton at Sixfields before the 72nd-minute goal that gave the Cobblers’ a 1-0 win and preserved their divisional best home record.

The decisive strike went down as an own goal by Argyle goalkeeper Jake Cole after one of a series of goalmouth scrambles from a corner. Pilgrims players called for a foul but it later appeared that a collision with team-mate Paris Cowan-Hall jarred the ball from Jake’s hands.

Whatever, following the goal, Argyle were a shadow of their earlier selves, when they had looked capable of upsetting the formbook.

John said: “It set us back so much because, up until the goal, we were well in the game.

“We defended really well and played some decent football when we had to. They are a horrible team to play against: everything’s coming into the box; everything’s high; they are all 6ft 2in.

“I’ll give my lads credit. We were competing and compact and we were right in the game. The goal set us back – the manner of the goal – and we just went a little bit. We really didn’t get going and get back in the game.”

The best opportunity Argyle had was fashioned by on-loan winger Jason Banton, who beat three players in a run when he cut in from the left and was denied only by a great block from defender Kelvin Langmead.

John said: “It was an unbelievable bit of football and we had one or two headers we could have done a lot better with. They are good opportunities and you have got to take them.”

The defeat leaves Argyle bottom of League 2, and gives extra zip to two important games this week against fellow relegation-threatened sides – at Wimbledon on Tuesday and home to Barnet on Saturday.

“They are big games,” said John. “Two teams who are near us or around us.

“They are all tough games. We played against a team today who have the best home record in the division and we have matched them, but we have lost the game.

“It’s difficult to take, because we are bottom, but we have just got to stay together and believe we can get out of the position we’re in. That’s what we’ll carry on doing.

“We have just got to focus on the performance, not the result.

“If we battle like that and play like that, especially in the first half – I thought we played really well – and take that into the game against Wimbledon, we will have a chance of winning.”