JOHN Sheridan blamed Argyle’s slow start – as well as Andres Gurrieri’s red card – for the Pilgrims’ humbling 3-0 defeat at Rochdale.Argyle went into the game at Spotland in good fettle bit failed to reproduce the sort of form that has seen them climb to 11th in Sky Bet League 2 and take Port Vale, of League 1, to a replay in the third round of the FA Cup with Budweiser.
The Pilgrims, who were playing their seventh game 23 days, were a goal down inside four minutes to Jamie Allen and conceded two more late on – to Ian Henderson and Michael Rose – after Argentinean midfielder Gurrieri was sent off following a clash with Dale defender Jack O’Connell.
The red card came during a promising start to the second half by the Pilgrims and John said: “I thought we were very flat in the first half.
“I put my trust in the team after the performances we’ve had of late and I probably made the wrong decisions. When I watched the game in the first half especially, I felt I should have probably put one or two fresh people in there.
“I’m not making any excuses. They are professional footballers; they are fit enough. We shouldn’t be flat. I don’t want them making any excuses – we just didn’t turn up in the first half which made it very, very hard for us.
“We are playing a team near the top, and we’re trying to get in the play-off area – I’d like us to come out and have a bit more of a go in the first half. We just didn’t get going.
“We didn’t pass the ball as well as we have done of late. We should have been competing more in that game and pushing more because of the way we have been playing of late. I keep saying we are improving.
“We got off to a bad start. It was a poor, poor goal.”
Gurrieri became the second Pilgrim in successive games at Spotland to be red-carded following the dismissal of Maxime Blanchard last season. Like his French team-mate, Gurrieri saw out the match on the team bus.
John said: “I thought, for the first ten minutes of the second half, we were right in the game. We looked better, we were moving the ball, and we got in the game. The sending-off totally changed it and made it really difficult for us to get anything out of the game.
“I think he was probably frustrated because he was having a bad time and kept giving the ball away. It made life really difficult for us because we were on top of the game then.
“If we’d had 11 men on the pitch, the game wouldn’t have been 3-0. When we went to ten men, I can’t fault the players – they worked hard – but it was always going to be hard for us.”
John will now consider whether or not to shake things up for Argyle’s next game, when Cheltenham Town visit Home Park next Saturday.
“We’ll reflect on it,” said John. “It’s a bad result but we’ll get back and look after them as best we can because we’ve got another tough game against Cheltenham.
“There are a few who are waiting and who want to play. It’s the first free week we have had for a while. I’ll make a decision and, hopefully, whoever I pick next week will help us get a result.”