11th October 2014
TO call a football match 'a game of two halves' these days is so beyond a cliche it ceases to have much meaning.
However, were it not such an overused platitude, it may have been a fitting description to Argyle's battle with Swindon in midweek.
The Pilgrims raced into a 3-0 lead against their Sky Bet League 1 counterparts in Tuesday's Johnstone's Paint Trophy clash at Home Park, but spent the bulk of the second half defending deeply against a free-flowing Swindon side that fell only one goal short of hauling themselves level on the night.
Attractive, attacking football of a type displayed by the Robins is a philosophy that Argyle manager John Sheridan would love to emulate. His side are not there yet, but he does not believe his aspirations exist in vain.
"Everyone knows I want to try and play football," said John. "I’d love to go out there and try and pass, pass, pass. I would love to do that and play that way.
“Any team I play is attack minded, it might end up looking negative because we defend too deep.
"I would love us to score more goals, I would love us to be really good on the eye. As a player, I liked to play and liked to pass. I would love us to do that, I really would. Every player;s got to be comfortable in their position. Everyone is getting really confident in how they’re playing. We’ve done it in games this season, we've just got to try and do it on a more regular basis, and get confidence in us doing it first.
“I would love us to attack more, I’d love us to create more opportunities, but a lot of good teams and successful teams, first and foremost is that they don’t concede goals. And we’ve lost every game by a single goal, so we’re doing something right somewhere.
“We’ve done alright, but hopefully, we’ll get better."
With an eye on those players in the Argyle squad with defensive responsibilities, John spoke up on behalf of one of his charges whom he believes to have had an unsung impact on the season thus far.
“I think my most important player is Anthony O’Connor," said Sheridan, "and no-one’s ever mentioned him.
"He enables the back four to do their things, and have that comfort of him being there, and it enables the right-back or left-back to join in.
“He’s very comfortable, he wants to play anywhere as well. He’s that type of lad. As long as he’s playing, he’s happy. That’s a good thing about him. You can put him anywhere on the pitch, and he’ll give you 100%.”
In eleven league games this season - O'Connor has played in all but the first - Argyle have only shipped eight goals, suggesting that something is working well at that end of the pitch.
As much as he would like to turn Home Park into the home of total football, he knows that the discipline of players like O'Connor as just as important as any player that might be firing in goals at the other end.
"You've got to sacrifice," said John. "It might be a bit boring, but if you’re going to open teams up, you've got to sacrifice.
"If we can get ten 1-0’s at home, you’ll all be thanking me come the end of the season"