NEVER mind the quality, take the victory.
If anyone was in any doubt that points matter more than performances at this stage of the season, Argyle’s 2-1 home victory over Mansfield Town was exhibit A.
Headed goals – the first by Anthony O’Connor after 98 seconds; the second, midway through the second half, by either O’Connor again or Carl McHugh, depending on your perspective – sent the Pilgrims back into the Sky Bet League 2 play-off zone with four games of the league season remaining.
It was a win which owed everything to resilience and desire, especially after Vadaine Oliver’s margin-reducing strike within two minutes of Argyle’s second goal, and not much to silky skills and flowing football. It was good, though.
“I can honestly say I’m not really bothered how we played,” said Argyle manager John Sheridan. “It’s about getting the three points.
“It’s a great result because we’ve got the three points and the results around us have enabled us to get back into the play-off positions. The result is what it is all about.
“We have had good chances and got in really good areas to possibly score four or five goals. We got in some good areas and, with the right pass and the right bit of movement, we probably would have scored goals.
“We didn’t hit the target when we we’re shooting, which is always criminal; I always tell them: ‘Just hit the target, make the ’keeper work’. It’s a massive three points for us.”
Mansfield, who have issues of their own at the other end of the table, proved obdurate and feisty opponents, leaving Argyle’s players with plenty of reminders that they had been in a contest.
“It was a tough game,” said John. “They have got a lot of lads who are over 6ft, big lads who put themselves about, and you are in a bit of a battle; you go in for balls and there’s body contact.
“They need the points because of where they are in the league. It was always going to be difficult. They should have beaten Shrewsbury, who are top of the table, last week, when we had them watched. I was never expecting an easy game.
“We defended when we had to defend. Obviously, to concede a goal is poor after going 2-0 up when I just about to make subs to see the game through. You are always edgy when there is only a goal between the teams and they are putting balls into the box; you are vulnerable.”