THERE surely cannot be any Pilgrims who would argue with Argyle manager John Sheridan’s post-match assessment of the 1-0 Sky Bet League 2 victory at Tranmere as “a great, great result.”Reuben Reid’s first-half header – his seventh goal of the season – gave Argyle back-to-back league wins to sandwich a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy triumph over Swindon and lift them into the play-off places, and to their highest league position in four seasons.
The victory – only the Pilgrims’ second in 16 matches on Birkenhead – saw the best of Argyle at both end of the pitch. They dominated the first half in terms of territory, possession and talent, then dug deep in the second as a defence which has conceded only a divisional best eight goals in 12 matches again held firm.
“If we’ve got any disappointment, it’s the way we went about the game in the second half,” said John. “Although, we were brilliant in the first half – we played really, really well and scored a great goal.
“The downside is that we came out in the second half and we weren’t keeping possession of the ball and we were giving it away cheaply; we were on the back foot too much and we were inviting [Tranmere] to get back into the game.
“That should never have been the case. After the first half, we should have gone on to control the game and see the game out. I said [to the players] at half-time “Have the know-how to affect the game”, but we didn’t.
“But to come away from home, keep a clean sheet, and win the game is a great, great result. Our away form has not been great but, as I’ve said before, we’ve been in a lot of games which have been really tight.
“Again, it was really tight today but you expect the home team to have some pressure and we stood firm and defended, and it was another clean sheet.
“Anyone who was watching us in the first half would probably have said we were the best team they have seen here, the way we played. [Tranmere] are definitely in a false position, so I knew it would be a really tough game, but we went about it really well in the first half and we got the goal. You get a goal, and you’ve got something to hang on to, and that’s what we did.
“We just couldn’t keep it up, but there were some very good performances in that first half and that’s what I’ll be telling the players, because three wins out of three is a very good comeback. We have just got to keep plugging away because we have done nothing. There are lots of things we still need to improve in our game.”
The victory-streak has raised Argyle to sixth place and re-raised expectations of a successful season.
“It puts a smile on people’s faces,” said John. “We’re in a position and we have just got keep improving and improving.
“I try and stay the same all the time, whether we’re winning or losing. I prefer it when we’re winning, believe me. When you are losing, I have got to believe in what I am trying to do. That’s all I can do, If I don’t, I won’t be the manager; if I do, hopefully we will be successful.
“We’re in and around. We all know what points-tally we need – two points a game. That’s what I’m looking at, throughout the season; if you get that, you’ll get promotion.
“It’s a funny old league – everyone beats everyone –and it’s about getting that bit of consistency. The magic word.
“If you get that, you’ve got a chance.”