The Battler

CARL McHugh’s body is marked by the signs of a rigorous season.

Stitches in a gashed right knee suffered against Burton is his latest badge of honour – but his face showed only happiness and contentment following the Pilgrims’ 1-1 draw with the Sky Bet League 2 leaders.

Centre-back Carl’s late equaliser against the Brewers kept Argyle’s promotion aspirations alive, maintaining them in seventh place in the table – the final of the four play-off positions.

His header from Bobby Reid’s corner was the 22-year-old Irishman’s first league goal of the campaign and he said: “It is well, well, well overdue, but it’s come at a good time and hopefully it will be an important goal for us.

“I’ve had a few ’keepers making good saves – that’s all I’m going to say! No, I should have chipped in with more goals this year. Hopefully, I can get one or two more this season; there’s no reason why not.”

There was a degree of justice about the leveller and its scorer after Burton had gone in front 12 minutes before half-time when Kevin Stewart’s hopeful long-range shot was deflected past goalkeeper Luke McCormick by Carl.

“If I hadn’t have blocked it, it probably would have gone wide or safe into Luke’s hands,” he said, “but you have to try to block a shot when it’s at the edge of the box. They go for you sometimes, and sometimes they don’t. Hopefully, we will get a few more before the end of the season which go for us.

“It was devastating because I think we started the better of the teams. I didn’t really think [Burton] caused us a massive amount of problems all game; they just had their goal to hang on to and played really deep in the second half, which makes it really hard. 

“When a team sits ten men behind the ball really deep on their box, it is hard to make chances, and [the equaliser] was just probably going to be from something like a set-piece or a ball running across the box. Thankfully, we got something that went in for us.

“I was expecting them to come out more and try to get the second goal and shut up shop. They probably showed a bit of respect for us – they know we’re a decent side and we have flair going forward. I’m just thankful we didn’t let them go home with the three points.”

The Pilgrims now have six matches to cement their spot in the top seven, starting with an Easter Monday trip to old naval rivals Portsmouth. Out of the seven teams with realistic aims of one of the two play-off spots that seem attainable, only neighbours Exeter won on Saturday.

“It just shows how tight it is going to be towards the end of the season,” said Carl.  

“I think it’s going to be nip and tuck. There are going to be twists and turns, ups and downs. We just have to stick together whatever happens – we may have a few bad results – and be in the top seven at there at the end of the season. Anything can happen from there and I’d definitely back us once we get in there.

“Coming from behind against the league leaders, and looking the way the other results went, it was a massive point but we just have to go on to Monday and make it a really good one by winning at Portsmouth.

“We might not have played the best, but we stuck in there together and showed a real desire to get back into the game. We are going to need that for the last six games.”