Feat on the Ground
FOR a young man who had just made history, Reuben Reid was keeping pretty cool following Argyle’s 3-1 Devon Expressway Derby triumph.
In all previous 99 meetings between the Pilgrims and nearest, and not so dearest, neighbours Exeter City, no Argyle player had claimed a hat-trick at St James Park.
Indeed, only two other Pilgrims have claimed a triple against City at Home Park – Jack Fowler did it first in a Third Division (South) encounter on March 30, 1923, which Argyle won 5-1, and Ray Bowden matched his effort in a 4-1 Third Division (South) beating on October 26, 1928.
So you might expect Argyle’s 26-year-old No.9 to be full of himself after netting all three goals in the Pilgrims’ 3-1 Sky Bet league 2 triumph that completed a seasonal double – by a 6-1 aggregate – over City, and extended the Greens’ winning run to four matches.
Not a bit of it. Take a look at pictures of Argyle celebrating wins since Reuben rejoined the club two years ago, and you will notice he gets more pleasure out of team-mates’ personal triumphs as well as the collective effort it takes to bag three points.
He said: “It’s nice to get a hat-trick – it’s contributed to a massive win for the club and the city. I think we can just enjoy it now.
“One of the lads said: ‘It looks good for you’, but it’s just nice to get the win. Probably when I wake up tomorrow, people will be telling me what a massive part I’ve played and all of a sudden, you’re flavour of the month.
“I am just happy to have contributed to a good performance all the way through barring ten minutes before the end of the first half, when [Exeter] scored. I thought it was a complete performance throughout, really, and we were dominating the game.
“I’m pretty much the same, no matter what. Obviously, it’s nice to get goals, but the three previous games I’ve played in a winning side and contributed without goals; I’ve contributed with other aspects of my play.”
While he might play down the self, Reuben knows exactly what the win means to the Green Army, as well as to the club’s promotion aspirations. Those aims took a knock over Christmas and the New Year during a seven-match winless run, but disruptions to the squad have now been ironed out and you can sense the universal eagerness to maintain momentum during the final stretch of the season, which continues when Bury visit Home Park on Saturday.
“The win, being the fixture that it is, was massive for us,” said Reuben. “I think the city is going to be alive for the next week, leading into the Bury game, and it’s massive for the fans who came to watch the game.
“But, for us, as a team, it’s just another three points to get us closer to where we want to be at the end of the season.
“The confidence has always been there. We didn’t get the rub of the green in our bad run, when we weren’t winning games, but thankfully, we’ve got what I would say, our normal team back.
“No disrespect to the other lads who have come in and played but, when we had our normal team we were a good force in the league. Thankfully, we’ve got that back – and no injuries now – going into the final stretch.”
On the subject of injuries, Argyle fans will be hoping beyond hope that Reuben stays fit for the remainder of a campaign which has already seen him net 17 times, especially as he limped off after completing his historic hat-trick.
He said: “I’ve been struggling with a lot of niggly things – a few problems with my feet – and I’ve been in quite a bit of pain.
“After I scored and planted my foot, the pain came on quite suddenly and I thought it was best to get off the pitch to save myself. I didn’t want to do any more damage.”