IT always sounds strange to talk about positives in defeat, but when the dust has settled on Argyle’s 3-1 Emirates FA Cup exit at Bradford City, there will be much to take into the second half of their Sky Bet League One season.
For starters, on anyone’s reckoning, they outplayed a team geared up for promotion whose two wins since they last faced – and lost to – the Pilgrims were at leaders Wigan and second-placed Shrewsbury.
Only profligacy at both ends of the field prevented Argyle from scoring more goals than Graham Carey’s second-half strike and turning superiority into victory.
Manager Derek Adams said: “Bradford were always going to be favourites because of the position they are in the league, and we put up a good fight.
“We were far more of a goal-threat today. We had a good number of chances. Yes, [Bradford] came into the game later on because we were a bit gung-ho – we had Jake Jervis playing at right-back and Lionel Ainsworth playing right midfield – so that was always going to be the case.
“Having Graham and other players in that forward line, looking a goal-threat – we did look a goal-threat today – is extremely positive.”
Then there was the return of goalkeeper and club skipper Luke McCormick after 14 games’ absence because of an ankle injury. Although he made an error from which Bradford scored their third goal, he also made some vital stops.
Derek said: “That’s what he’s there for – he’s there to make the saves, as all goalkeepers are; just as strikers are there to score goals, and they haven’t taken their chances.
“It’s good to have your captain back again. He’s looking good, but he’s looking rusty.”
Ryan Taylor also came on as a second-half substitute for his first league action since the opening day of the season, while Oscar Threlkeld was included on strong substitutes’ bench.
With six full-time professionals having been included in Friday night’s Carlsberg South West Peninsula League Premier Division victory over Godolphin, competition for first-team places is getting stronger.
“It’s something we haven’t had for a good part of the season,” said Derek.
“The starting 11 that played today did really well and the substitutes we have here today deserve to be in the squad, so it is up to the other ones to push themselves into it.
“The more time the likes of Luke and Ryan Taylor can get, then it is positive for us.”