JOHN Sheridan believes Argyle are “throwing a great opportunity away” after a third successive winless game further dented their Sky Bet League 2 play-off ambitions.Callum McFadzean’s 27th-minute goal for promotion-chasing Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium on Saturday condemned the Pilgrims to a 1-0 defeat in their first game since losing 2-1 at home to neighbours Exeter City.
The loss left the Argyle, who drew their previous away match at Accrington 1-1, five points outside the play-off zone with six matches – including Tuesday’s game-in-hand at Newport – left to play this season.
“For the last three games, we have thrown the opportunity away,” said the Argyle manager, “but we have got to keep believing.
“I said before that I thought we could lose one or two of the seven games we had left – I think five wins will get you in the play-offs – but we are making life every difficult and, to be fair, the way we played, we don’t deserve it.
“The difference between the two teams was that Burton played like a team that has got a chance of getting automatic promotion; we played like a side that is happy just to stay in the league.
“I don’t think we played the football I expect us to play. We played too many long balls and everything was a scrap. We did play a bit better in the second half, but we were disappointing. I don’t like watching us when we play like that.
“I’m the manager and I’ll get the blame for it and never usually have a go at my players but we can’t come and perform like that. We just did not get going.
“I don’t like to say ‘we trained really well’ – training’s totally different – but players who have looked really sharp in training this week, who have played today...I am looking at different players.
“There’s not a lot I can do about that. I’m picking them with the belief that they are going to play well. That’s the unfortunate thing at this level. It’s that magic word again – ‘consistency’ in your game. And know what you are good at and what you need to do.”
Following the introduction of Paul Wotton at half-time, Argyle’s second-half performance picked up from the first and they ended the match with a three-man strike force of new signing Enoch Showunmi, leading scorer Reuben Reid, and Marvin Morgan.
John said: “I don’t mind losing the game – I expect to lose football matches – but it’s the manner of the losing. We huffed and puffed at the end. We had three big lads up front and tried to get a scrappy goal out of something, but I don’t think we deserved anything out of the game, if I’m honest.
“There’s no excuses. The team is the same team – or similar – that went to Fleetwood, Dagenham, Wycombe [and won]; same formation. Why we are looking flat, I will never know.
“We didn’t play like a team that’s still got a chance of getting in the play-offs.”