THE introduction of an injury-time substitute at Hartlepool last Saturday was a small, but significant, footnote to a splendid Argyle victory.
It is a long way between the Parks of Home and Victoria but even that journey is nothing compared to the one taken by the man introduced to the late action from the bench.
Deane Smalley’s previous first-team appearance had come 385 days previously. Following the Pilgrims’ 1-1 draw at York in November 2014, he smashed ligaments and cartilage in his knee.
“When you have been out for so long you want to get back in the first-team picture,” said Argyle manager Derek Adams. “I thought it was the right opportunity to put him on at the end of the game; we were winning 2-1 and he came on for Ryan Brunt in injury-time. It was good for him to get back on to the field of play and gives him the confidence now to try to push forward.
“He still needs a wee bit more game-time, but he’s performed well in training and he got that opportunity.”