THE Green Army is used to seeing eye-catching important goals from the artistic left foot of an Irish midfielder and the Pilgrims’ most recent encounter was no different.
With the 90 minutes of the 100th Dockyard derby having reached the final 90 seconds, up stepped Connor Smith to smash home a shot in front of a jubilant Devonport end to earn Argyle a 2-2 draw against a Portsmouth side that had gone in front just three minutes earlier.
The strike preserved the Pilgrims’ winning league streak, which stretches back 11 games to August 13 and Connor said: “It was unbelievable.
“It keeps the unbeaten run going. When you are a goal down with five-ten minutes to go, you’d take a result at that point but, before the game, we were obviously going out for a win. We can beat any team in this league so, every game, we want to win.”
Connor’s shot cancelled out what had looked a likely winner from Pompey’s Danny Rose, whose long-range 86th-minute strike hit the underside of Luke McCormick’s crossbar before bouncing down over the goal-line.
“When you get a result like that, it feels like a win, I guess,” said Connor. “I couldn’t really see their goal; I didn’t know if it was in. But we reacted well to it with not long to go and we got a lucky break with the ball dropping on the edge of the box, and I was lucky enough to score.”
He may be being modest. Luck probably had little to do with a move that involved almost half the Argyle team.
Connor said: “I was over the far side of the pitch and a long diag[onal ball] had come to Ryan [Donaldson]; he was strong and the [ball] got through to Ben [Purrington] somehow.
“I think Ben was cutting it back to Foxy [David Fox] to be honest, but he overhit and I gave Foxy a shout to stand over because I thought he was going to get a toe on it. I just stepped on to it nicely. The ’keeper was unsighted, so I used the defender to lift it around him.
“It shows the character we have got. A lot of teams, against such a good side, could have faded off and died out with fatigue, but we just kicked on and just went for it. We’d nothing to lose then; we pushed on and you could see them dropping back and back, and we got on top of them and got the goal.”
Connor came off the bench around the hour mark as Argyle manager Derek Adams sought to negate Portsmouth’s early second-half ascendancy in a match that ebbed and flowed.
Connor said: “[Kyle] Bennett, coming inside, was getting a lot of space so he just wanted to close up the midfield a little bit. It did work, to be fair, apart from when they got the goal. It tightened us up and we got back on top.
“After they scored, it was only us pushing and, after we scored, we went for it, as well. They were dropping off more and we were pushing on, looking for the winner.
“You can tell they are a decent side, but we are a decent side, as well – that’s what the league shows. Considering we can play better, it’s a decent point.”