The Sweetest Thing

WE should have known that there would be last-minute drama at Kenilworth Road.

Ten years ago, almost to the day, Bojan Djordjic lashed an Argyle leveller there in a 1-1 draw, and proceeded to make sure everyone knew who he was by skipping the whole length of the main grandstand, his back to the seats, double-thumbing the name on his shirt.  

Four years previously, the more modest Steve Adams headed home a Pilgrims equaliser so late in the game that players from all the teams competing in the other Nationwide Division Two games that weekend had showered, dressed, and were enjoying a drink in the players’ bar.

Add to that role of honour, Ryan Samuel Brunt, who left it until the fourth of five minutes of injury-time on Saturday to fire the Pilgrims four points clear at the top of the Sky Bet League 2 table, scoring the winner in a hard-earned 2-1 victory.

Ryan, 22, was making a rare start to a game in preference to Jake Jervis, assuming the pivotal front-man role normally occupied by the injured Reuben Reid.

“It’s nice,” he understated, after nicking the victory that sent nearly 800 travelling Pilgrims home happy. “I’ve been working hard since pre-season and just to do that...that’s what you train for, that’s what you work for, and I’m buzzing for the lads because we worked hard.

“For me to do that, personally – that’s what I’ve been working for. It’s pleasing for me.”

The goal that will keep Argyle top for three weeks came 15 minutes after Luton substitute Josh McQuoid had equalised Carl McHugh’s opener midway through the first half.

Craig Tanner started the move by beating one of three different full-backs who tried, and failed, to shackle him during the game and then passing the ball to Pilgrims’ substitute Oscar Threlkeld.

“Tanner was absolutely unbelievable, I have to say,” said Ryan. “No-one got near him. There were three full-backs he had to try to take on and he was fantastic. Oscar’s pulled it back and I’ve half hit it and half not and it’s come off a defender and fallen into my path; it bounced nicely and I put it in.

“Goals like that are the best goals; you can score from 30 yards and put it in the top corner, but they don’t feel like that.”

Like Ryan, Craig had been called into the Argyle starting line-up following Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat at Oxford and Ryan said: “There’s a togetherness in the squad and I have never known anything like it. 

“Everyone gets on with everyone – when Jake is playing and he scores, I am ecstatic for him and I’m sure he’s the same with me. You are not going to get anywhere with [only] 11 players: Oscar’s come on; Coxy [Lee Cox] has come on and have both put in a good five-ten minutes.”

Argyle were full value for their half-time lead – indeed, such was their dominance, it stretched belief that they did not go in two or three further goals ahead. 

“There were periods in the game when we did really well, and periods when we didn’t,” said Ryan, “but we stuck there in a hostile atmosphere. It was really good.

“We went out in the second half and weren’t on the front foot and let [Luton] back into the game but, with 20 minutes left, we just looked like we were going to do something.”

The victory took Argyle to 32 points from their first 15 games, which is title-winning form and Ryan said: “We have got to keep going. 

“It’s a cliché, but we mustn’t let the foot off the gas and train really hard, as we’re doing every day.”