ARGYLE’S 3-0 defeat to Sheffield United may well flatter the Blades as the Pilgrims held their own against the League 1 side for most of the game, according to John Sheridan.
The Pilgrims were issued one of the toughest missions in the FA Cup second round, as they had to make the trip to Bramall Lane and take on the Blades, who sit fifth in Sky Bet League 1.
The three goals for Nigel Clough’s side all came in the second half, as United were reinvigorated by a penalty miss from Reuben Reid shortly after the restart. Earning two penalties of their own, the home side put the game beyond the Greens with Jose Baxter’s two spot-kicks, and Marc McNulty added a third in the 90th minute from close range.
Before that, though, Sheridan’s side more than held their own against more established opposition, quelling the Blades’ initial dominance and growing into the cup tie.
“In the first hour, I thought we played really well against a really good team,” said John. “We were lively on the break, and our shape was good. They keep possession of the ball, but I thought we were well in the game for an hour.
“I thought we did a good job, and our movement was good. I was comfortable with the way we were playing, and it is just a shame how it has ended up.
“I will take a lot of positives from the first half, definitely. I really felt there were opportunities there. Obviously, if we score the penalty, it changes the game,”
John and the lads certainly entered the game with a specific game plan to combat the attacking threats that United possess, switching from a 3-5-2 formation to a 4-2-3-1.
“In the first hour, we matched a very good team who are a lot higher than us," said Sheridan. “I just wanted to put Andy [Kellett] and Ben [Purrington] in there. I knew [Jamal] Campbell-Ryce and [Jamie] Murphy were threats, and I just thought I would put a couple full-backs in there and deal with them.
“I did not see Murphy in the first half, and Campbell-Ryce has put a few crosses in but did not give Ben too much of a problem.
“I was pleased with the way we played and went about our game in the first half. The game-plan for an hour was spot on. I went in at half-time and thought ‘We could win this’, and I told the players that.
“We come back out and it is a clear penalty for us, but it has not gone our way and you get sucker punched. We just found it difficult to get ourselves back in the game.”