DEREK Adams had special praise for on-loan Chelsea midfielder Jordan Houghton's performance during Argyle's unfortunate 2-1 defeat to Exeter City.
The Pilgrims somehow came away from St James Park with a loss, after going ahead through a powerful Jamille Matt strike in the 57th minute. The Grecians levelled the match with their first shot on target with ten minutes to play, courtesy of Ollie Watkins, and it was the same player who hit home an unlikely winner from distance in injury time.
Throughout the game, though, teenager Houghton shone in the middle of the park for Argyle. His passing ability was matched by his positional awareness and constant ability to win headers and regain possession.
"Jordan Houghton was my man of the match today," said Derek. "He had an outstanding performance.
"He was head and shoulders above anybody else on this football park, and that's why I've taken him here. He broke up play very well, his use of the ball was excellent, his running forward, his intelligence off the ball and on the ball - the boy's got a bright future in the game. He's very knowledgeable about the game, picks up good areas, and when you're at this level at 20 years of age, I'm delighted with him."
Houghton was one of the key creative forces that allowed Reuben Reid and Jamille Matt to terrorise Exeter's back line all afternoon. The striking tandem now have four goals between them in the last four games, and Derek is pleased with their all-round contributions to those matches.
"Totally dominant today against their two [centre backs]," said Adams of Jamille and Reuben. "They worked really hard.
"They've caused teams problems; Jamille's scored another goal, Reuben's helped him get that goal. We've seen that from them in previous games. They've managed to take the ball in, link up play and get opportunities."
Luke McCormick was surprisingly beaten at his near post for Exeter's first goal, but Adams expects his goalkeeper and the rest of his squad to remain confident and positive as they prepare for the final six games of the season.
"Luke has made great saves for us this season," said Adams. "He'll be disappointed, but Luke is a strong character and he'll manage to come back from it.
"It leaves us needing wins to get going. It's not a crushing blow. The players are lifted: for 90 minutes we've dominated a football match and didn't look like conceding."