To the Grindstone
ARGYLE’S record-breaking 2-1 win over Crawley Town epitomised how Derek Adams’ side have made an art form out of grinding out victories away from home.
The Greens’ 13th Sky Bet League 2 victory on their travels this season was, thanks to results elsewhere and the chase for promotion, perhaps the most vital of all. Fittingly, then, Argyle pulled out one their most daring acts of escapology to secure that win.
Things looked far from positive after an hour, in the middle of which Dean Cox latched onto a cross to give Crawley the lead. While neither side offered much of a threat aside from the goal, the hosts worked hard to nullify any threat the Pilgrims possessed.
“We found it difficult to get that opportunity,” said Derek, “and I think that’s credit to Crawley. They stopped us getting many opportunities on goal.
“I think the pitch didn’t help us today. It was very bobbly. Crawley also pressed well at times in the game. We didn’t have it our own way from a passing point of view. It was difficult for us to get the ball down and play. That’s credit to Crawley also.”
But after struggling to make any sort of breakthrough in the game, Argyle carved out an opening on 63 minutes. Town’s admirable resilience was finally broken, as Antoni Sarcevic controlled a looping ball and was brought down in the box. The penalty was given, Graham Carey powered in the spot kick, and Adams’ side had dragged themselves level.
“We score a good penalty kick. Sarcevic wins a second ball and is able to get past his man,” said Derek.“I thought Sarcevic did really well; it’s a penalty kick.
“Graham Carey has been a magnificent player for us over the season, and he’s scored a very good penalty.”
The game remained scrappy, but Argyle carried a greater threat, bolstered further when James Collins received a second yellow card for Crawley ten minutes from time. Argyle piled the pressure on and, in stoppage time, finally caused Crawley to crack. A shanked clearance was superbly headed back into danger by Yann Songo’o, and Ryan Taylor – harried and nullified for most of the game – flicked a finish into the far corner to complete a memorable turnaround.
“In the end,” said Adams, “we’ve gone direct and been able to feed off a knock-down. We get a very good finish from Ryan Taylor. He did exceptionally well.
“He’s played well for us since come here. We brought him here to get important goals and he’s got a very important one today. He wanted to score, and when he gets into that channel, onto his left foot, you always fancy him to hit the target. It was important he did that at that stage of the game; it was probably one of the last opportunities for us.”
While dramatic and significant, the match was by no means an attractive affair. Of course, though, the manner of all 13 of those away wins – the most of any Argyle side in league history – matter little if they guide to Greens to a place in Sky Bet League One.
“At this stage of the season, it’s all about winning,” said Derek. “It’s difficult coming up against a team like Crawley, who haven’t got much to play for.
“They didn’t trouble us in the second half. On goal, they didn’t have many opportunities. We didn’t have many in the first half, but I thought it was us who were going to try and get the victory.
“I think it’s a game that was very scrappy today, but in the end, we’ve just got to get over and win the match. Today was about grinding out a performance.”