IT was fitting that not only was it Argyle’s leading goalscorer who scored the goal to send the Pilgrims into an Emirates FA Cup third round tie at Anfield...
...but the man himself is a huge Liverpool fan.
Graham Carey scored his tenth goal of the season when he struck an injury time penalty to Argyle a 1-0 win over Newport County in a real battle at Rodney Parade.
Goalless in 90 minutes, Argyle were awarded two penalties – for the second time at Newport this season –to give them chances to progress. The first was taken, following protracted discussions, by Arnold Garita, who missed from 12 yards.
Carey, though, made no mistake in converting, as he did twice at the same venue in October, and earned his dream tie, at one of world football’s most well-known venues.
“It’s brilliant,” said Graham, “It will be a great day out for the fans. We knew it was going to be tough tonight. We’ve been here in the past and beat them with penalties – and we beat them again with a penalty.
“Going to Anfield, from a personal perspective – I’ve been a Liverpool fan all my life – is going to be a great day. My whole family are Liverpool fans. I’m sure a few will make the trip over. I’m sure I’ll have a lot of requests for tickets tomorrow!
“I’ve been to a few games there. It’s a great place to play football. We’re going to enjoy it – but we’ll go there and try to get a result. No-one will give us a shot of getting a result, but we’ve shown that we can battle as a team, and it’s the FA Cup. You never know.
“This group of lads have a main aim this season, and that’s to get promoted. We’ll enjoy that day [at Liverpool] when it comes, but first of all we need to get back to the league and rack up more points. The FA Cup won’t be a distraction whatsoever.
The game was far from a pretty encounter for the BT Sport camera present and showing the game live. Newport’s desperate playing surface was not conducive to good football, but Argyle showed great heart in eventually coming out on top in the scrap.
It was a fourth straight clean sheet for Argyle, who have now gone over 400 minutes without conceding. The four match unbeaten streak, encompassing the first Newport cup tie, and wins over Doncaster Rovers and Accrington Stanley in Sky Bet League Two, follows an uncharactistic three-match losing sequence.
Graham said: “We knew with the conditions it was going to be a long night. We’ve grown as a team over the last couple of weeks. We’ve started keeping more clean sheets, and finding ways to win tough games like this, and Accrington. Not many might have thought we’d keep two clean sheets.
“We’ve started to learn how to grind games out. Previously, when we’ve been on a bad run, we’ve been too open at times, but now at Accrington, and Doncaster at home, it’s hard for teams at this level to break us down. We know we have the pace on the counter attack to hurt teams, and that’s what we do.”
Carey’s winning penalty looked identical to his second at Rodney Parade in the 3-1 win two months prior. He would have had a chance to emulate one he scored in front of the Green Army at the other end, had Arnie not held on to the ball.
Garita’s blushes were spared, though, with a second spot kick award, and Carey hold no bad feeling about his Cameroonian team-mate’s indiscretion.
“I felt confident, scoring a few penalties earlier this season,” said Graham. “It was a good penalty, I sent the keeper the wrong way. I heard a few of them saying ‘go left’, so I went right.
“We don’t really have a designated penalty taker; usually me or Jake takes them. Jake wasn’t on the pitch, so it should have been me taking it. I’ll hold my hands up and I say I should have taken the first one, but Arnie was confident. He’s worked hard for the team and come back from injury, so he fancied his chances of scoring. As a team, we support each other, even if you fail, but he still worked hard all game and caused them problems.
“When the second one came, there was only going to be one taker.
“We got through – that’s all that matters.”