Graham: "Blame Us"

ARGYLE playmaker Graham Carey shouldered his share of the blame as the Pilgrims’ failed to overcome Mansfield.

The stubborn Stags hung on for a 0-0 draw as Argyle failed to score for the first time under new manager Derek Adams despite putting the home side under plenty of pressure.

At the other end, Pilgrims goalkeeper Luke McCormick had only one save to make in the entire 90 minutes as Argyle recorded their first goal-less stalemate for 20 games.

The result followed the previous week’s 1-1 draw at home to Bristol Rovers and Graham said: “All in all, I thought we created enough chances to win. Last week, the back four created a bit of stick for the goal we conceded late on; this week, I think it’s the strikers’ fault. They did their job – they kept a clean sheet – but we didn’t put the ball in the net.”

The first half saw almost total domination from the Greens, with Reuben Reid being denied by the woodwork after a brilliant volley; Graham being thwarted by giant Danish goalkeeper Brian Jensen; and Ryan Brunt glancing a near-post header wide.

“We were frustrated at half-time,” said Graham. “We felt we didn’t play to our ability but we could have been two or three up: Reuben hit the bar; I had a chance, one-v-one, when I should have scored; and Brunty had a header.

“I didn’t realise how big [Jensen] was until he came out – he made himself really big and shut down the angle. I’m always critical of myself – I think I should be scoring if I’m one-v-one. Credit to him, but I think I should be scoring.

“So, without playing well, we could have gone in 3-0 up. That’s frustrating. But, in this league, a point away from home...we might look back on this and it will be a good point.”

Graham’s battle with Jensen – who broke Argyle hearts in a Carling Cup penalty shoot-out when he was at Burnley – was resumed after the break, when the Irish midfielder three time tried his luck with direct shots from free-kicks.

“He kept giving me the near post,” said Graham, “and, with the pitch being so small, I wasn’t that far out in the wide areas. I got two on target. On another day, [the ball] could bounce back out into the six-yard box and we score. 

“He saved both of them. To be fair, he’s experienced and pushed them out of danger. Any other keeper in this league might have pushed it back into the six-yard box.

“[Mansfield] got into dangerous areas but I thought that our back four and our midfielders worked ever so hard to nullify them and only give them half-chances. Luke’s only had one shot to save so that bodes well for future games. Clean sheets are important. 

“We were unlucky today but we had enough chances to put them away. I haven’t scored in the last few games but I’ll be calm. I had five or six shots today and hopefully, if I play Tuesday, it will be the same.”

Tuesday sees the first of three home games in eight days, with Barnet and Crawley visiting in the league before Exeter City visit in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

Graham said: “We’ve drawn our last few games; now, we’ve got three at home and that’s a chance for us to put a good run together. I think it’s important, in this league that you do start putting results together because it’s so tight. 

“Especially at home, if you win two or three on the bounce, it will be a big push forward for our promotion chances.”