Battle Conditions

JOHN Sheridan has praised his side’s resolute defensive display under difficult circumstances in their goalless draw against Oxford United.

Sheridan and the lads arrived at the Kassam Stadium eager to kick on from an important victory the previous weekend against Northampton Town, but probably would not have been best pleased when they took a look at the rough, discoloured pitch they would have to play on.

Both sides struggled to put together a sustained spell of dominance in the game, but the Greens came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock at the end of the first half, as Reuben Reid’s header hit the woodwork twice before rolling just the wrong side of the goal-line and away to safety. 

“We have had one or two openings,” said John. “It’s a great chance from Reuben – he’s done brilliantly to create the chance for himself and, if that goes in, it’s a different game. 

“I don’t know how it stayed out. It’s a good ball from Kelvin [Mellor] and Reuben’s got across and done everything right, but it’s hit the bar and hit the post, bounces along the line and, unfortunately, it didn’t go in the net for us.

“I don’t think either keeper has had much to do. It was a really scrappy game.”

Scrappy indeed; neither team posed much of a threat to coming as close as Reuben’s first-half effort after the break, as a heavy surface took its toll on some of the players. Argyle stood firm, though, to record their eighteenth clean sheet of the season, and the boss was pleased to see his team maintain such a valuable habit. 

“We defended well. There were one or two little moments and you expect mistakes when the pitch is bobbly and people are miskicking things,” said John.

“I don’t think they really created anything but, at the same time, I don’t think we did either. I was comfortable during the game – I didn’t think we were going to lose the game – but obviously we know the importance of three points. 

“We battled hard and it’s another clean sheet. We battled to get something out of the game and it was important we didn’t lose. I felt we had a go and it was a solid performance. 

“There were one or two players that were off their game but it is a point. Credit to the defence: the back five and Luke. They’ve kept another clean sheet. It’s a hard-earned point. It’s something from the game and it keeps us in the mix.

Attention for anyone of a Pilgrims persuasion now turns to Tuesday night, as Argyle look for more success on the road against Dagenham & Redbridge.

“It could be a good point in the end, and now we have to go to Dagenham,” said John. 

“We’ll know the importance of trying to get three points, because getting four points from these two away games would be a good outcome.”