HE probably did not feel it as Jon Parkin’s penalty gave Forest Green Rovers 3-0 lead half an hour into Argyle’s final pre-season friendly
...but Gary Sawyer was ultimately delighted that the Green Devils put the frighteners on the Pilgrims.
The early setback at the New Lawn, where goals from Darren Jones and Elliott Frear preceded Parkin’s spot-kick, provided a first real test of mettle for Derek Adams’ men – a test they passed with alacrity and panache.
Jake Jervis and Reuben Reid reduced the deficit to one before half-time; Hiram Boateng levelled matters early in the second half; and Jake’s second put the Pilgrims ahead soon afterwards. A hens-tooth fifth, from Gary’s left boot, confirmed the fifth win of Argyle’s unbeaten six-game pre-season campaign and provided a confidence-boost before their Sky Bet league 2 opener at Wimbledon on August 8.
“We didn’t start the game great, defensively, and we got punished by a good side,” said Gary. “Thankfully, the boys showed a lot of character and turned it round.
“To be honest, the fact that we had the bad start and the character we showed to turn it around is a massive thing to take into next week. All the games aren’t going to go with us; sometimes you need boys to dig us out of it, which we’ve got.
“It was a good test against a really good side and the boys have come through it really well.
“[Forest Green] caused us problems but, going into the season, we need problems and it was a good thing to see the boys come through and sort it out. I think we got stronger as the game went on but everyone knows that the start wasn’t good enough and we can’t do that next Saturday.”
The five-goal haul saw Argyle take their pre-season tally to 18, seven of which have come from new forward Jake.
“He’s taken his goals well and I think he’d probably be the first to say he should have had even more,” said Gary. “He’s a fit lad, a strong lad, and he’s got a great chance to do really well.”
With Reuben also back among the goals after returning from a post-season foot operation, and Gregg Wylde and Graham Carey prompting from midfield, there is a sense that Argyle are not going to be short of opportunities in the forthcoming campaign.
Gary said: “We’ve got goals in us; lively players everywhere; some good footballers; quick players. It showed today at times; I think we were unplayable at times. We know we’re strong and we believe we have got good players at the club
“You know what you’re going to get with Rubes. He’s a really good player and proven goalscorer at this level. He’s a great finisher when he gets into those positions. It’s a massive bonus for us to have him fit.”