PETER Hartley paid tribute to team-mate Jake Jervis after Argyle’s leading scorer this season came off the substitutes’ bench at Leyton Orient and scored twice to help the Pilgrims to a 3-1 victory.
Jake went to 11 Sky Bet League 2 goals for the season with strikes in the 78th and 90th minutes after coming on for the injured Reuben Reid, who had started ahead of him in the one change from the side that won 2-1 at Portsmouth three days earlier.
“Jake has been different class,” said Peter, who put the Pilgrims on the road two three valuable points with his first goal of the season in first-half stoppage time.
“It’s been a long season and people have come in and gone out. I think Jake was very unlucky to get dropped to the bench because he played well against Portsmouth on Saturday, but he’s come on and scored two goals which just shows the character of the guy.
“He’s basically said to the gaffer ‘There’s two goals – start me on Saturday and I’ll score you another two’.”
Argyle’s opening two goals came from Graham Carey free-kicks, with Peter hammering home a right-foot volley at the far post.
“I remember going a little bit too early,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if I was offside. Nelse [Curtis Nelson] was stood in an offside position and he came back onside, and I just ran into the space Nelse came from. It’s the first time I’ve scored in over a year so I’m absolutely delighted, but as long as we win the games, I’m not bothered who scores."
The Orient match saw a return to three at the back for Argyle, with the now legendary trio of Nelson to the right, Hartley to the left and – stuck in the middle – Carl McHugh, who limped off injured in the second half.
“It’s second nature to us three,” said Peter. “We played it for 40 games last season. The gaffer made the decision; it worked away from home at Carlisle earlier this season and it worked again tonight.
“Carl was phenomenal before he went off. He takes to it like a duck to water in the middle of me and Nelse – we do all his running for him and he looks like Beckenbauer!”
Reuben was also withdrawn from the action with the latest in an exasperating series of injuries that have limited his participation this season.
Peter said: “He’s had a few niggles. It’s frustrating him a lot and it gets him down, but he’s a great athlete and a fantastic pro and I have no doubt he’ll come back stronger because he’s a mentally strong person.”
However, Peter believes there is plenty of talent in the Argyle squad to see them through their final three games of the league season: at home to already relegated Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday; away at Cambridge seven days later; and against Hartlepool at the Theatre of Greens on May 7.
“We have got 21 boys in that dressing-room and it means the world to every single one of them,” he said. “So, whoever comes in, I know will take the chance with both hands. You’ve seen it with Ben Purrington, when Gaz [Gary Sawyer] has gone out.
“We have just got to stick together as a team and look to pick maximum points up from every game.”