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22 February 2014

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JOHN Sheridan was too modest to claim credit for it...

...but Argyle’s 2-1 Sky Bet League 2 victory at Dagenham & Redbridge owed as much to his tactics as it did to a fine team performance which contained some memorable personal contributions.

First-half goals from Reuben Reid and Lewi Alessandra, either side of a home leveller from Zavon Hines, gave a much-changed Pilgrims side their second successive away victory and put them back in the division’s top ten.

At the heart of it all – and one of four changes from the previous week’s 4-0 home larruping by York City - was veteran defender Paul Wotton, brought back from a lengthy spell on the sidelines to marshal a five-man defence in which Matt Parsons made his debut at left wing-back.

“I think three at the back suits him,” said John. “We all know he hasn’t got the legs he used to – I don’t think he’s ever had the legs! – but he’s an organiser and talker. That’s a good thing about him. We lack that; we are very quiet as a team.

“So, when he’s on the pitch, he sees it like a coach and he plays the game, seeing things going on around him. He’s very vocal, which I like. We need one or two more of those.

“I changed the formation, brought one or two people in, and it they all did well. It was a good team performance. It’s a hard place to come. It’s credit to the players, more than anyone. It was a great response after a disappointing 4-0 defeat last week. It showed character from the players.”

Reuben scored inside the first five minutes – for the second away game running – after Conor Hourihane’s free-kick had cannoned back off the crossbar, but Lewi’s goal 12 minutes before the break, volleying home Matt’s cross at the near-post, was the pick of the Pilgrims’ pair.

John said: “We had good possession of the ball; Andres [Gurrieri] slid in for the tackle and it ends up going to Matty. It was a great ball from Matty and a great finish from Lewi. That’s what strikers are there for.

“Usually, when we score first, we don’t lose many games, so it’s good to go in at half-time with an advantage. The second half was a bit scrappy; we could have played if we believed in ourselves a little bit more. But we hung on and dug in – it’s a difficult place to come, so to come and get three points is a good effort from the players.”

Lewi’s strike took him to ten goals for the season, following Reuben into double-figures for the campaign, and John said: “I’m greedy – I think they should both have more goals, as well, with the ability they’ve got. They are a handful – you could see that in the first half.

“It’s always good when strikers score goals. They’ve both scored and worked their socks off for the team.”

It was left to a defender to round off the win when Curtis Nelson, who had an outstanding afternoon, blocked what looked like a certain goal from Hines late on

“He’s quick, he’s strong and he’s read the situation,” said John, of his young centre-back. “He’s got that in his locker and it was a great last-ditch tackle. The lad would have scored if Nelse hadn’t made the tackle.”

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