Dutch Courage

YOU are not really supposed to come to the Netherlands and show up your hosts.

The script was that plucky English underdogs Argyle would come to the Dutch second tier side MVV Maastricht, work very hard at chasing the ball, probably lose by the odd goal, and come home satisfied at their efforts, but having learned a lesson. 

Instead, Argyle matched their hosts stride for stride, and came out deserved 2-1 winners, following goals from David Goodwillie and Yann Songo’o. At no point did MVV outplay the visitors from Sky Bet League Two. Instead, it was the Pilgrims who put together the longer spells of possession on Maastricht’s artificial surface. 

“I thought it was a very good performance from us tonight – from start to finish,” said manager Derek Adams. “We pressed very well, were very composed on the ball, created openings and scored two very good goals. Overall it was a very good night for us.

“When you come to these sorts of places, you expect the other team to have a lot of the ball. We certainly passed it exceptionally well tonight. We retained possession, we moved it from side to side. We won’t come up against another team in our country like that. 

“I think they enjoyed it. The surface was excellent. We defended well when we had to tonight, and opened them up a few times. The way we passed the ball, got it into the front men and scored goals was top notch.”

As indeed, were the goals themselves. Goodwillie’s goal, which levelled the game at that point, came after Gary Sawyer had broken up play, several green shirts had worked the ball forward, and Jake Jervis had picked out the excellent run of the Scottish striker. 

Songo’o’s winner was an acrobatic overhead kick four minutes from time that was as enjoyable as it was unexpected. 

“[The first goal] was well worked,” said Derek. “It was into the middle of the park, then down the right side. A good cross into the box, and Goodwillie does what he does – he scores goals. It was a very well worked goal. 

“Then Yann Songo’o with a scissor kick to finish it off. It was a good finish. He’s capable of that – he’s very athletic and good on the ball.”

The crowd included in the region of 100 Argyle fans, including the 10-strong tour party who are spending the week in Delden. Adams was impressed – yet not surprised – by the Green Army’s support, even for a friendly game 500 miles away, over the English Channel. 

Fans have one final chance, against West Bromwich Albion at Home Park on Saturday, to see the boys before the season gets under way the following week. 

“It was great for them to come here tonight,” Derek said. “We were well supported. We have ten with us, but to have another 80 or 90 added to that was a special night for them. 

“We will work hard to get prepared for West Bromwich Albion at home on Saturday. The weather has been fantastic at the training facility, and the boys have blended in well. That was the purpose of coming out here.”