Man of Steel

THERE is no doubting that Anthony O’Connor has been a man of steel for the Pilgrims this exciting season, bringing some iron into the defensive part of Argyle’s midfield.

What had been lacking from the 22-year-old Irishman’s cv up until the 2-0 home Sky Bet League 2 victory over Northampton Town was the telescopic vision to see a goal. 

That all changed in the 28th minute of the Pilgrims’ must-win match against their promotion rivals, when he latched on to Bobby Reid’s cut-back with a single bound before penetrating the Cobblers’ defence with a bullet shot.

He celebrated with team-mates in front of Lyndhurst after revealing blue under armour emblazoned with a large red S.  

“I’ve been saying to the lads: ‘I can play anywhere – I’m Superman’,” said Anthony, “but the main thing is that I’ve got a little boy at home and I’d like to think I’m like Superman to him. That was the main reason.

“I’ve been telling the lads for a few weeks that the goal is coming. Thankfully, I’ve got it today and it’s got me off the mark, but the most important thing is the three points. We’ve all worked hard as a team. The goal is a nice feeling – it’s my first career goal.

“The first ten minutes of the game was the worst ten minutes I’ve had. I gave the ball away a few times and I was thinking: ‘What’s going on?’ It’s a strange game – five minutes later, I pop up with the goal. It settled me down.

“I remember getting the ball off Tareiq [Holmes-Dennis] and hitting a good diag to Kelvin [Mellor], and Kelvin went on a little run. Next thing I knew, the ball came into the box; Bobby’s tried a shot and didn’t connect with it. He’s had the composure to put his foot on the ball and obviously seen me on the edge. 

“As he sent it back, I just put my foot through it and caught it sweetly. The second I hit it, I knew the ’keeper wasn’t getting anywhere near it.”

The caution from referee Stephen Martin means Anthony is now on seven yellows for the season – three more before the AFC Wimbledon match on April 14 and he will have to serve a two-match suspension. 

“It’s in my game to be tackling, so yellow cards are going to come,” he said. “This was a stupid booking but it was my first career goal.”

The goalscoring midfielder ended the match in central defence after Carl McHugh gave best to a minor leg injury, and all hands were required on the deck of the good ship Pilgrim before Lewi Alessandra made the game safe in the 86th minute.

Anthony said: “It was a good ball from Drew into Lewi, who gave a dummy to the defender and the ’keeper and just slotted it away. That’s what Lewi is all about – those clever little touches – and it settled us down. We knew then we were going to go on to win the game.

“We are happy with the win. [Northampton] were a side on the up – they’ve had quite a lot of good results in the past few weeks – so we knew it was going to be a tough game. They are one of our rivals, challenging for that play-off spot. So it was nice to get the win and three points.”