ARGYLE’S 3-2 defeat against Wycombe Wanderers in the first leg of their Sky Bet League 2 play-off semi-final was a match filled with tension and emotion…
...but John Sheridan is already focussed on completing a historic turnaround in the second leg on Thursday night.
After goals from Paul Hayes, Aaron Holloway and Steven Craig appeared to have put the tie to bed within an hour of play at Home Park, the Pilgrims roared back to life with the inspiring Green Army behind them.
Late goals from substitutes Zak Ansah and Jason Banton reduced the deficit to one and, just as importantly, gave Argyle all the momentum going into the return fixture at Adams Park, despite being behind.
The Chairboys, meanwhile, have the challenge of preparing themselves mentally after two of the more agonising 3-2 victories the club will ever experience. After victory by that scoreline on the final day of the regular season was not enough to secure automatic promotion, Gareth Ainsworth’s side have now relinquished two thirds of their comfortable lead ahead of another nail-biting 90 minutes of football.
Sheridan is certain that his team are now the side in the ascendancy, and is looking to convert that momentum into a memorable victory later this week.
“They’re a good, organised team and saw the game out. It’s very tight,” said John.
“The last two times we’ve been there, we’ve won. Obviously they’ve got their advantage and it’s a good result for Wycombe, but I think Gareth will be really down that it has ended 3-2.
“There’s still belief there, and we have to go there and show character. I think we can play a lot better. The lads have been given a lift, and if anyone might be down it will be Wycombe, going 3-0 up and it ending up 3-2.
“We’ve got to go to Wycombe knowing we have played really well there. I really fancy us, and we are still in the game. We’ve got to go and score anyway, so we have to try and force the issue. That’s what we’ll look to do.
“They’ve got a slight advantage but it’s cagey; do they sit back or try and get a goal? It will be a tough game and it is a tough ask for us, but we’ll go there and hopefully coming back and getting ourselves into the game tonight, we can go there believing we can finish it off.”
In order to complete a sensational turnaround, Sheridan will be working diligently with his players over the next few days to iron out the issues that left them with the proverbial mountain to climb after just 52 minutes.
“We’ll come in on Monday and train Tuesday and Wednesday,” said John. “I’m not into all this hype before the game. I think there’s too much talk before a game. I don’t like my players getting involved in it. I tell them to just concentrate on the game.
“I think some players were doing little things that I don’t like, that they haven’t been doing all season. We were giving the ball away cheaply when we are good possession.”