Risk and Reward
A CALCULATED risk taken by manager Derek Adams helped Argyle secure a last-minute 1-0 victory over Cheltenham Town, with the boss using his squad depth to throw caution to the wind.
As it goes, there was plenty of wind to throw against at Home Park, as a deluge of gales and rain descended on the Theatre of Greens for most of the game. The conditions and Cheltenham's resolute style prompted Derek to roll the dice shortly after the break. Despite having already brought on David Goodwillie for an injured Jimmy Spencer early in the first half, Adams brought on both David Fox and Arnold Garita, using his final two substitutions with plenty of football to play.
"We were against the wind in the first half," said Derek, "and the rain, and that was probably why we didn't play so well. It was very difficult for both teams today. There was heavy rain before the game, and that was probably the reason we saw a game as it was.
"We needed to put them under pressure. We thought that they were sitting in a bit and quite happy to soak it up, so we needed to go for the jugular. I might've done it at half time - I just wanted to be careful.
"I took a risk; obviously we had used a substitution early on in the game. It's not very easy just to throw the dice that early, but I had to. If you've used three subs with 37 minutes to go, it's a big risk."
The gamble paid off, as Fox's vision and Garita's power turned the game in Argyle's favour. In the third minute of added time, the pressure finally produced the rewards, as Oscar Threlkeld's cross was powerfully headed home by Sonny Bradley. Once again, the ability for the boss to turn to more options on his bench than last season proved dividends - options that hold plenty of desire and talent, as well as depth.
"I've got a lot of hungry players in my team," said Adams. "The ones that didn't get on today will be disappointed as well, because they're chomping at the bit to get into the team. They proved the other night that they're more than capable.
"That's what I've said over a number of weeks now: I've got a very good squad here. The ones are in the team just now need to perform very well to stay there."
A fifth win in a row for the Greens sees them rise into the top three of the Sky Bet League 2 table, once showing plenty of steely determination to get the victory in less than ideal circumstances.
"A good victory for ourselves today," said Adams. "It was probably what we deserved. We had more of the ball and more chances in the game than Cheltenham.
"I think if we had scored a goal early in the game, we'd have gone on to dominate the game more than we did. That's the nature; the longer it goes, the harder it becomes."