WHEN asked to describe the three points earned in a tension-filled 2-1 win at home to Fleetwood Town, Argyle boss John Sheridan came up with one word: “Massive.”Then, after a short pause, he said it again to emphasise the importance: “Massive.”
After a 0-0 draw in midweek, Argyle’s second home game in five days had been described as “must-win” by the gaffer, and every single one of the 6,714 fans in the home sections of the ground on the day knew it.
Against a cacophony of noise throughout, from the splendid pomp and ceremony of the HMS Drake Volunteer Band to the Green Army’s constant battle cries, this game played out in various crucial stages.
There was the first half that Argyle dominated, scoring two goals before the break and looking in command.
Then came a phase where things were edgy; Fleetwood pressing incessantly but Argyle repelling and maintaining the two goal advantage.
Then, after a goal with 15 minutes remaining that halved the difference between the sides, an aneurysm-inducing denouement where the Pilgrims clung on to all three vital, precious, treasured, MASSIVE points.
“The important thing is getting the three points,” said John. “We worked our socks off – they’re a good team, Fleetwood. They’re a team going for the play-offs, so to come away with three points against a good time is great.
“We made a good start. The only disappointing thing is when you are winning a game 2-0, you shouldn’t make it as hard as we did.
“We should be controlling a game when we’re 2-0 and it’s something I’ve got to get into them. We shouldn’t be hanging on at the end. We were comfortable, first half. Jake made a great save just before half time, but I thought we played well. A really solid performance.
“Get 2-0 up [and] just see the game out, do the basics. We make decisions that end up causing problems, conceding free-kicks and corners. We shouldn’t be defending, and we have to defend quite a lot.
“The goal’s come out of nothing really, but it gives them a bit of belief and we’re on the back foot a lot more than we should have been.”
There was a palpable sense of nerves that struck Home Park after David Bull’s strike that brought Fleetwood back in the game.
In the troubled few seasons Argyle have endured, home wins have become a scarce commodity. When they are in the grasp and look like they might slip away, tension is inevitable.
The paradox is that the only way to rid yourself of a fear of losing is to not lose. And that in itself is difficult if the fear pervades your every step when winning a football match. Enter Sheridan, the educator.
“They need to start getting used to winning,” he said, “That’s what I want. Everyone will be a better person in and around the club. That’s something I’ve got to breed into them.
“It’s a long time, three years, fighting relegation. And you see bad habits. Players who have been here two years have been playing in a relegation-threatened team. So something’s not been right.
“We’re all different. I’ll do what I think’s right and if works, it works. If it doesn’t, I won’t have a job. I’ve just got to put what I believe is right into the players. Hopefully it’s successful.
“I’m on their case all the time. A player is no good to be if they play well one week and I don’t see them for the next five. I want consistency in their game. It’s the most important thing, to get consistency into their game.
“If I can get that into seven, eight, nine players, every Saturday, we’ll win a lot of football matches.”