NEVER mind the quantity, take the three points.Argyle’s 1-0 home win over Accrington Stanley could have – maybe should have – been more, but Peter Hartley was happy enough that the Pilgrims’ rot of seven winless Sky Bet League 2 games was stopped.
“I don’t think it really mattered how we got the win,” he said, after Lewi Alessandra’s late first-half goal proved the difference between the two sides. “It’s just good to get back to clean sheets and, obviously, three points to keep us in the mix for the play-offs and maybe beyond.
“I think we controlled the majority of the second half. We dictated the tempo and, when you are 1-0 up and you control the tempo, you are going to control the win. [Accrington] were always going to have a spell in the second half and I think it shone through how much today meant to us. As a group of boys, we really pulled together and worked hard for each other.”
It was arguably 1-0 going on 5-0 as Argyle carved out series of chances, any one of which, if taken, would have acted as a nerve-settler has it breached Accrington’s creaky, but stubborn, defence.
Peter said: “Carl [McHugh] had a good header; Reuben [Reid]’s had a couple of chances; Lewi had a chance; I had a chance which the [defender]’s cleared off the line. I connected with the ball and I don’t think the boy knew it had hit him. He was just stood on the line and it bounced off his head and went back out for a corner. It was unlucky; I did everything right apart from finish.
“It was one of those things – we could have comfortably won the game maybe 4-0 or 5-0, but you don’t get any more points, and we’ve got a decent goal difference at the moment so it doesn’t matter how many we win by.”
Given the catalogue of missed opportunities, it is perhaps ironic that the one that did go in was of the more difficult variety, with Lewi poaching the ball from Seamus Conneely before thrashing it home from nearly on the bye-line.
Peter Said: “I said to Lewi at half-time: ‘How did you score?’ and he said he sort of opened his body, gave the ’keeper the eyes and whipped [the ball] into the top corner. It looked like the boy was just going to usher it out and made a bad decision. That’s what Lewi does – he puts defenders under pressure. It’s one of his strengths.”
Having gone ahead, it was essential the Pilgrims did not suffer a repeat of their previous home game against Morecambe when they surrendered a lead secured in the last moments of the first half.
“That’s one of the things we said at half-time – ‘Remember the last couple of games we’ve had at home when teams have scored in the second half and make sure it doesn’t happen today’. Fortunately it didn’t.”
The match was Peter’s first full 90 minutes since mid-December as he made a comeback following a hip injury. He has not remotely enjoyed his time out, even though his comeback resulted in aching limbs.
He said: “I felt good for about 75 minutes and then, in the last 15, I could feel my hamstrings and quads going. It’s a niggly injury. It’s still there a little bit, so I’m monitoring it and trying to get back 100% fit. The longer I train with the boys – and play games – I’ll be back up to game-tempo in no time.
“I did the [radio] commentary against Morecambe and I think they lost the connection because I shouted that loudly; [Morecambe] scored, and I was biting my tongue to stop myself swearing. It’s frustrating because you can’t affect anything when you’re sat in the crowd. I need to be in the mix; I try to help people and pull people along
“It was nice to be back out there today. The gaffer has given me a chance, a start, and I hope the boys have repaid him with a clean sheet and a win.”