JAMES Bittner went from bit-part understudy to main-stage performer on Saturday as Argyle claimed a sixth win from their nine away Sky Bet League 2 matches this season.
The 33-year-old stepped into fill a Pilgrims’ goalkeeping void at Bootham Crecsent after regular custodian Luke McCormick was ruled out with a groin injury sustained in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat by Millwall the previous Tuesday.
The Wiltshireman came within two minutes of emulating Luke’s four away clean sheets this season before being beaten by a late Ben Godfrey goal. However, the Pilgrims held on for a 2-1 win given them by first-half goals from Jake Jervis and Graham Carey.
“It was good,” said Bitts, after the victory. “Obviously the three points is a massive thing for us. It wasn’t great conditions unfortunately, for a goalkeeper when it’s that wet and that greasy. The back four in front of me were immense and as a team, it was fantastic.
“I knew Luke was struggling on Tuesday, in the last ten minutes. Unfortunately, we had already used our three subs. I spoke to Luke on Wednesday and he said he was probably struggling for Saturday.
“Luke is the best ’keeper in the league, easily, and it’s sometimes hard going into those big boots, especially when mine and Luke’s games are so different – he kicks the ball very, very well and I’m less of a longer kicker.”
It was Bitts’ full Football League debut after joining Argyle in the summer of 2014 and came only a few weeks after recovering from a back operation
“I’m 33 years of age and I’ve had a bit of experience – albeit at Conference and other levels,” he said, “but it’s football, and football’s football.
“I started at Swindon in the Championship; I’ve been at Fulham in the Premiership; and in League 1 and League 2. All the way down – albeit, unfortunately, as second or third choice, and never had that break. It has been a frustrating career but, at the same time, I wouldn’t change.
“I’ve played half a game of football all season and I had a back operation 11 weeks ago, so I’m probably not 100% fit but, once you cross that white line at 3pm, the adrenaline starts pumping.”