ARGYLE showed their nerve and gritted their teeth to take a 2-1 victory against Mansfield Town...
...and Anthony O’Connor knows that more performances like will be needed before this season comes to a close.
Returning from a groin injury, the 22-year old got the Greens off to the perfect start after just two minutes. After some instructions from his captain, O’Connor met a Bobby Reid free kick at the far post and headed into the far corner to give his side an early advantage against the Stags.
“I think it was Bobby who took the free kick and he just stuck it at the back stick. Peter [Hartley] said to me ‘Ant, go on the back stick’, so I pulled away and seen it come in,” said Anthony.
“I just leapt as high as I could and caught it sweet, right on my forehead, and next thing I know it’s in the top corner. It was a great feeling. No keeper in the world would’ve saved that!”
A difficult period of the game followed for the Pilgrims, as the relegation-battling visitors used their size and organisation to pose a threat in the first half. Argyle maintained their lead at the break, though, and after some careful words from manager John Sheridan, they doubled their lead on 63 minutes as Carl McHugh headed a corner kick towards the far post – where O’Connor may well have also got a touch on the ball before it crossed the line.
“We didn’t make it that easy for ourselves today. Once we went one up, we should’ve controlled the game more and seen it out better,” said Anthony. “We probably should’ve been 2-0 or 3-0 up at half time but we let them back into the game.
“The gaffer said at half time: ‘look, I don’t want to say it to you, but results are going our way. If that doesn’t motivate you then I don’t know what will.’
“They put us under a lot of pressure. They’re a big side and have got a lot of big players in their team, and they brought on another big lad up front so we were dealing with two handfuls. It was never going to be easy; they were just going to lump balls up to him and they were trying to feed off of that.
“So they were going to cause us some problems in that area of the pitch but we dealt with it well and we got the second goal – which was mine as well, obviously!
“I’m happy to chip in with the goals but the team is the most important thing. I’m delighted to get the goals for the lads and put us back to winning ways, and hopefully that can carry on come Tuesday night.”
Tuesday will see the visit of AFC Wimbledon to Home Park, and Argyle may well have to produce a similarly gritty display to pick up another vital victory. The Irishman knows that performances at this stage of the season are very much secondary to results, as the Pilgrims look to cement their place in the Sky Bet League 2 play-off places.
“We saw the game out well and we’ll take three points. We rest up tomorrow, we go again Monday and then we’ve got another big game Tuesday,” said Anthony.
“Three points is what matters now; three points will be all that matters on Tuesday, and three points will be all that matters next Saturday. That’s where we are now, at that stage of the season. We need to get points to make sure we get in those play-offs. The three points is the most important thing.
“We’ve got the win in the end and it’s a happy dressing room now. Hopefully we can take that into Tuesday night and get another win then. If we can win our home games and pick up a couple of points away, then I’m sure we will be there come the end of the season.”