DESPITE losing 2-1 to Oxford United, Argyle manager John Sheridan has labelled the performance of his players as “magnificent”......as they battled for most of the game with ten men.
Everything looked to be going to plan for the Pilgrims after 19 minutes of the Sky Bet League 2 fixture, as Lewis Alessandra latched on to an excellent through ball from Ollie Norburn, rounded Yellows ‘keeper Ryan Clarke and slotted home to put his side in front.
15 minutes later, however, the whole complexion of the game changed, as Aaron Bentley was sent off for serious foul play against Sam Long. The youngster was inconsolable as he left the field, as he knew the team’s first dismissal of the season would put their backs firmly against the wall.
Despite showing remarkable resilience and even looking the better side for much of the remainder of the game, second half goals from John Campbell and James Roberts in the 69th and 83rd minutes, respectively, handed the Greens their second home league defeat of the season.
“We have lost the game 2-1, but I thought we were outstanding,” said John. “I told the lads that I thought they were magnificent.
"I do not care what anyone says, or what anyone tells me; I thought we were outstanding, and I will praise the lads to the hills.
"I just could not ask for any more. I am gutted for the lads, and for the supporters – it was a great following today. I am just gutted we did not get the result we deserved. If we had eleven men on the field, we would have won 3-0 or 4-0. I am sure we would have.
"I thought we were on top of the game, even with ten men.
"At the end of the day, Oxford look okay because they are 2-1 up, and we have got ten men and are deflated because of all the really good work we put in. I could not have asked for any more.
"We tried to win the game with 10 men. We did not hide, and that is the most pleasing thing for me.
"I am just gutted today, really gutted, because I thought the performance was excellent and we have lost the game. You will get people saying this, that or the other, but I honestly do not care, because I thought we were very good. I hope the opposition appreciate that; I thought they were very lucky today.
"Even a point with ten men would have been well deserved. We cannot fault anything today, with the way we have played."
Whilst the outlook may seem bleak during the aftermath of defeat, there are certainly positives to be taken from the match – although the boss still would have liked to see his side defend better against the two goals conceded.
John said: “I thought we were outstanding with ten men until their goal, which again is a set play that we should be dealing with and doing better with.
“We did everything to try and see the game through, and it is again a set play that has come in the box, and I would just like us to go back and organise, be ruthless and get people switched on a little bit more.
“It does look soft: it is just a ball in, a header down, and they have reacted better than us.
“They get the second goal which just deflates us. It ends up a good goal, but we lose possession of the ball. I thought Ollie was magnificent today, but he just loses the ball.
“It is just those little things that sometimes cost you. Is those decisions today, instead of just hooking it and putting it in behind their back four, they lose it, they break and they score.”