SKIPPER Conor Hourihane’s first Home Park goal of the season helped Argyle pass their screen test as the Dockyard Derby with Portsmouth ended all square.Conor struck in first in the Sky televised game, netting in the 21st minute after a mistake by Pompey defender Yassin Moutaouakil. However, the Pilgrims were pegged back 18 minutes later by Jed Wallace as the keenly contested game ended 1-1,
“I’m delighted with the goal and delighted with the performance of the team,” said Conor, whose strike helped earn him the Sky Man of the Match award. “It was probably one of our better performances.
“We are disappointed with the goal that we gave away; we limited Portsmouth to a couple of chances, not much really; and we had chances at the end of the game to maybe nick it. All in all, I suppose it’s not a bad day’s work.”
The Pilgrims fielded a 3-5-2 line-up which saw them dominate the first half-hour, with the central midfield trio of Conor, Rommy Boco and Luke Young to the fore.
Conor said: “In past games, with 4-4-2, we maybe couldn’t get a foothold in the game, but, with that extra man in midfield, it helps us a lot.
“It’s obviously better for us midfielders – we get a lot more ball at our feet with that extra man in there and I really enjoyed it. It gives me a lot more freedom to get in the box and luckily one fell to me and I put it away.
“I probably got a bit fortunate. The right-back made a bit of a blunder and I went to out it across the ’keeper and it went in at his near-stick. He probably thought: ‘What’s going on?’
“I‘m happy to get a goal. People have been saying we are struggling for goals, and to pop up and get a goal in front of the cameras is a little bit special.”
Also special was the atmosphere created by a crowd of nearly 9,000 supporters of two teams that have seen better days quite recently.
Conor said: “When away teams bring away fans, it makes the game a lot better. Portsmouth, not surprisingly, came in their numbers, as you’d expect. As Plymouth fans do in their away games.
“It’s the two biggest teams in this league. We shouldn’t be in this league but, look, we are, and we’re all scrapping to get out of it.”
That fight is taken to the north east next Saturday, when Argyle face their biggest round-trip of the season, a whopping 775 miles.
“We have got that trip up to Hartlepool next week and, if we’d lost, it would have been a long trip and long trip and a long week, and it would have been tough to take,” said Conor.
“So to get something out the game, and to play well at times is a nice boost for us. I think everyone’s looking forward to getting up to Hartlepool now, which is surprising because everyone’s been dreading the long trip.”