In Goal in a Gale

RETURNING Argyle goalkeeper Jake Cole knew he was going to be in for a tough second half during the Pilgrims' Sky Bet League 2 victory at Northampton...

...after watching his Cobblers counterpart Matt Duke struggle for 45 minutes in near gale-force winds.

Duke conceded twice in the first half as Argyle made the most of having the strong Sixfields wind at their backs to score through Reuben Reid, after five minutes, and Lewis Alessandra, after 39.

The second half was a different story as the Pilgrims had to deal with playing into the fierce elements. Odds were long on them keeping their first clean sheet since New Year's Day, but they pulled it off magnificently to win 2-0 and climb to tenth place in the division.

"I knew what I had to come in the second half," said Jake. "Obviously, he struggled a lot with the kicking, and it's hard when you've got the wind that much in your face but you have got to deal with it the best you can.

"It's also difficult with balls coming into the box, and all sorts of things you have to deal with. We defended great."

"We said before the game that, if we could get a clean sheet, we'd get the result we wanted.

"Going in 2-0 up at half-time was probably the most important thing for the second half. We just had to stay tight at the back and not concede.

"If it was 1-0 at half-time. we'd still have been happy but that second goal calmed the lads a bit because,  in then second half, you know they are going to have the wind behind them and put balls in and put pressure on. But we dealt with what they threw at us.

"The boys showed great character in the second half and we are all pleased with getting a clean sheet and three points away from home.

"There were difficult balls to deal with, with the swirling wind, but they were up for it and got the better of it."

The best of Jake's second-half saves came from Gary Hackett's wind-assisted corner, which was arrowed in under his crossbar.

He said: "The player has whipped it in and it's got a bit of pace on it. You'd like the front man to clear the ball but I ended up stepping up and I got a hand on it, and I was buzzing to keep it out.

"I managed to get a really strong hand on it. It was quite weird the way it went off to the opposite side. It was handy that I kept it out and we kept it to 2-0."

Jake was making only his second league start of the season following a campaign-ending injury to team-mate Luke McCormick.

"It's an opportunity for me to play some games, which I'm pleased about," said Jake, "but Luke's done excellent this year and we're good pals and get on really well.

"It's tough on him but I am going to try to take the chance and hopefully it goes well from now until the end of the season.

"I've been here before many times. Nothing's new  You go out there and you give it your best. You prepare right through the week and then you've got to perform. Whenever you get the chance, you've got to perform well."

The victory, after six winless games, rekindles the Pilgrims' hopes of making the end-of-season play-offs.

Jake said: "We've had a couple of draws at home and, as the gaffer said, if we can get another win away from home, it makes up the two points.

"It's in the reverse order to the way we'd like to do it - we'd like to get three points at home and nick a point away - but, whatever way we did it, we've got to go and get the results. It's a great three points today."