NOT since the days of fighting to stay in the Football League have Argyle put the Green Army through the wringer as much as they did in the final few moments at Northampton.The Pilgrims were 3-0 up and cruising to three Sky Bet League 2 points after more than 75 minutes of sublime domination at Sixfields: Peter Hartley headed home within two minutes; Andy Kellett scored his first senior goal with a wonderful solo effort; and Lewi Alessandra notched for the seventh time this season.
Then. with ten minutes to go, Ivan Toney capitalised on some defending which was, quite frankly, cobblers, before Stewart Murdoch’s last-minute thunderbolt struck fear into the hearts of the Green Army, although not ice-cool Argyle defender Anthony O’Connor.
“It was a bit nerve-wracking at the end,” said the Irish Under-21 international, “but the bottom line is we got the three points and we’re all happy with that. It was disappointing to concede two goals, but one was a great strike.
“We dominated the game, especially with possession, and we got two good goals in the first half.
“Peter has scored two similar goals. That’s the space he likes to get into and get his head on [the ball]. That got us off to a good start and got us a bit of momentum; then we got the second and we looked very settled. a couple more. Bants [Jason Banton] had a chance and there were couple of others – we should have killed the game off.
“We probably invited a bit of pressure on ourselves but we got the three points and it’s on to next week.”
Some wholeheartedly committed defending in the four minutes of time added on by referee Fred Graham saw captain Curtis Nelson suffer a serious injury to his left elbow.
Anthony said: “I didn’t see it, but it didn’t look good from where I was. I think he was in a bit of distress, but, being the leader that he is, as he was going off the pitch, he was telling us to see the game through.”
The twists and turns of the last few minutes at Sixfields produced a variety of emotions, with manager John Sheridan determined to keep things grounded.
“We’re a happy dressing-room,” said Anthony. “I think the gaffer was a bit disappointed that we nearly threw it away in the end, but that’s just him being him. It’s a good thing – he’s keeping us on our toes.
“He’s had a good career; he knows the game inside out; and he’s like the rest of us – we want to win – and he doesn’t want to concede goals. I bet he was like that as a player, too. We can’t change his personality and who he is, and we all buy into that.”