JOHN Sheridan was getting tired of saying the same thing.His Argyle side seemed to be in the habit of starting well and fading in the second half, prompting the manager to reiterate the same rhetoric.
Against Bristol Rovers, though, the narrative was reversed. Argyle looked lacklustre as the visitors took the initiative in the opening 45 minutes but, after the interval, the Pilgrims seemed rejuvenated, and when Reuben Reid scored the only goal of the game with eight minutes remaining, it had looked an increasingly likely occurrence.
“We’ve changed it around today,” said John. “I thought we were slow first half and picked up second half.
“I don’t think we played well first half. We need to get out and hit the ground running, especially when we’re at home and we need to get the crowd going, because we know they’ll support us if we get them going.
“I thought it was important to get off to a quick start. [Rovers] had a big derby game in the week that they worked very hard in. I thought we were a bit flat, but I don’t think they really had any chances.
“We just didn’t really get going. I expect a lot better. We were just too direct and didn’t make openings. [Goalkeeper] Luke [McCormick] was getting it and everyone was turning their backs and expecting him to just kick it.”
The notable change at half-time was a shift in shape, rather than personnel. Argyle shifted from a 4-4-2 system to a more fluid 4-2-3-1, with Marvin Morgan asked to play down the left. In turn, Rommy Boco played in the mythical ‘hole’ behind Reid. This, plus Sheridan’s words at half-time, worked the oracle.
“I told them to express themselves a bit more,” said John. “I changed it around. I just thought the two strikers weren’t getting much joy against their two big centre-halves. I think that’s what changed the game, really.
“ I moved Marvin out to the left, and I think Rommy caused problems in the middle, getting in those little areas, and you could see their two centre-halves didn’t really want to come out. He’s good in there. And I thought Marvin was a handful on the left. He puts a shift in.
“We just got them on the back foot. I think, once we scored the goal, you could see the confidence in the way we played.
“I think we played at a much better tempo in the second half. If we play at that tempo, we’ll win games.
“You could see the difference in the second half. We had enthusiasm and a will to win, and the crowd got behind us. We retained the ball for longer in their half of the pitch. [We did] even the littlest things, like Luke throwing the ball out to Durrell and we start playing from the back a bit more and stretching the game.
“It enables my attacking players to get more informed in the game.
“I think we deserved to win the game in the second half, although I thought [Rovers] were the better side in the first half.
“The most pleasing thing is the result. I thought it was important that we got the three points. With two [successive] home games, we’re looking to get maximum points.
“Full credit to the players after disappointment last week.”