At The Cole Face

JAKE Cole used one word to describe how he has found sitting on the sidelines as, first, Carl Fletcher and, then, John Sheridan preferred Rene Gilmartin as their first-choice Pilgrims goalkeeper.

“Hard” was his succinct summation of a two-and-a-half month exile from first-team duty that ended when he came on a substitute for Rene in the first half of Argyle’s 0-0 draw against Accrington Stanley at Home Park.

“I’ve worked my nuts off, to be fair,” he said, “doing extra goalkeeping work, getting in the gym and just working really hard, waiting for my opportunity again.

“It’s difficult, but you have to be ready at all times. That’s professionalism. It’s no use sitting on the bench thinking that you are not coming on – you have got to be ready and raring to go.”

After Rene limped off with a hamstring problem, Jake had a relatively quiet time of things until the last minute of injury-time, when he went full-stretch to keep out a free-kick from former England international James Beattie.

“Beattie has got quality,” said Jake. “I’m confident enough to deal with whatever comes at me, so I was happy to pull off a save late on.

“I’m just buzzing to make the save and keep a clean sheet.

“Every point’s important. Just as you can nick [a game]at the end, you can concede at the end.”

Now he is back in the spotlight, Jake is determined to win the healthy and friendly competition between himself, Rene and fellow ’keeper Ollie Chenoweth and reclaim the first-team spot for himself.

“I’ve been the regular the last year and half, and I’m happy to be playing,” he said. “That’s what I train all week for.

“I’m happy to get in there and take my chance.”

The Pilgrims face Dagenham& Redbridge at Home Park next Saturday, when victory would give new manager John Sheridan two wins a draw from his first three games.

Jake said: “We’re focused on the next game.

“Every game’s the same. It doesn’t matter who we play – whether they are up the top or nearer to the bottom – they are hard games; they’re battles; and we’re looking forward to next week.

“If you looked at the three home games and said we’d get seven points, we’d all be happy with that.”