Eyes on the Prize

PLENTY of eyes were fixed on Argyle during their 2-2 draw with Portsmouth, and Derek Adams is pleased with how his side dealt with the attention and pressure on the night.

The Greens kicked off the Sky Bet Football League play-offs on Thursday night, more than playing a part in a League 2 fixture that would have looked far from out of place on a League 1 or Championship stage. Jamille Matt's brace in the first half was book-ended by Marc McNulty's early opener and a Gary Roberts penalty in a match full of goals, quality and drama.

With the television cameras on and a packed house at Fratton Park, the Pilgrims showed concentration, quality and plenty of nerve to put in one of their most competitive performances of the campaign.

"Two very good teams put on a good show for the television audience," said Derek. "I think that over the 90 minutes, everyone will be pleased to see how good a football match it was.

"Four goals and lots of excitement. It didn't really look like a nervy affair; both teams wanted to win the match. It's been a great advert for League 2 football tonight. I think that anybody watching on the television would've seen two very good football teams.

"The atmosphere was fantastic. We've taken 2,000 here tonight, and they sang and sang their hearts out to keep us going."

Tempers flared at times in the early stages of the match, but the Greens quickly regained their composure, seeing the bigger picture and securing a draw going into the second leg, setting up another classic fixture at Home Park on Sunday.

"This is a big football match, and it's important that we keep them in check," Derek said on the subject of emotions. "You'd have seen that I didn't celebrate the two goals tonight because it's the first leg of the tie. I think that's important.

"We've come away from home, we've had to deal with the huge crowd that's been here, the expectation of the Portsmouth supporters. We've got to go back home and put on a really good display to get to the final."