LIKE many other people associated with Argyle, pride was the emotion Argyle manager Derek Adams felt most after watching his side valiantly bow out of the Emirates FA Cup against Liverpool.
Argyle’s unforgettable journey in this year’s competition came to a crescendo at the Theatre of Greens, as a Lucas Leiva header in the 18th minute was enough to see off the Greens after 180 minutes of third round action.
The win was far from plain sailing for the Premier League giants, though. After a superb defensive display at Anfield to force a replay, more sound Argyle defending was backed up with dangerous counter-attacks and clear-cut chances. Both Arnold Garita and Jake Jervis went close to getting the Greens back to 1-1 – a score-line few would have begrudged Argyle after a tremendous display.
“It’s something that the players wanted to do, and over the 90 minutes tonight, we created numerous chances,” said Derek. “We were probably unfortunate not to score in the first period. In the second half, with Jake Jervis hitting the post, it just wasn’t our night.
“I thought we gave them a scare. We kept the ball a lot better at times tonight and created opportunities. I thought that the forward players got into the penalty area; our full backs got forward as well; that was all the in the game plan. The game plan was to get them to Home Park and then see if we could win the tie.
“I think in the first game, they were very sound defensively. Tonight, we’ve given away a goal from a set play. In open play, did Liverpool look like they were scoring? I’m not sure. Did our goalkeeper have a lot of saves to make over the 90 minutes? I think their goalkeeper had a lot more to do than ours.”
Despite their efforts and the rapturous reception they received from over 17,000 fans inside Home Park, the players were understandably down after coming so close to pulling off one of the great FA Cup upsets. But Derek is fully aware of how his team’s effort and quality will still have a lasting effect on the football club.
“They’re obviously disappointed – you’re disappointed when you go out of the cup,” said Adams. “But a Premier League side like Liverpool: they were very respectful tonight, playing the players that they did, and we’ve pushed them all the way.
“Over the two games, I think the football club are proud of their players. I think over the two games, we’re very proud of our performance. The players: they’ve left nothing on the pitch tonight. They’ve made this football club very proud again.”