NOT even avoiding a cold Tuesday December night in Milton Keynes could sweeten the bitter taste of Argyle’s Checkatrade Trophy exit for manager Derek Adams.
The Pilgrims’ 2-1 defeat at Yeovil Town on Tuesday, coupled with Exeter City’s home capitulation to Chelsea’s Under-21 side, saw Argyle finish third in their group table.
Sam Surridge’s 88th-minute winner capped a fine second-half turnaround by the Somerset side, who trailed to Ryan Taylor’s first-half goal before they levelled through Tom James’ header on the hour from Otis Kahn’s free-kick.
Had the game remained 1-1, Argyle would have needed to win a penalty shoot-out to earn an away second-round tie at Milton Keynes Dons. When put to Derek that at least the Pilgrims were not now travelling to Buckinghamshire, he said: “I wish we were.”
“It was the manner that we lost the game: we didn’t have to give the free-kick away; we lose [a goal] from the set-play – we have got very good height, but it was good movement from Yeovil; and the last goal was another one where we didn’t have to put ourselves in that position.
“Ryan Edwards got done down the side, a cross into the box and we lose a runner into the box and [he] put the ball into the back of the net. We didn’t have to be in that situation so late on in the game.
“We are obviously disappointed because we wanted to progress into the next round.”
The game was a complete mirror image, with Yeovil taking command after half-time, up to which point an experimental Argyle side – playing 3-5-2 and having made six changes from their previous Sky Bet League One – had dominated proceedings.
“We just thought we’d do something a bit different to see how we coped,” said Derek. “We did alright at it but, in the second half, when [Yeovil] changed their shape, it caused us problems in the 3-5-2.
“We did better in the first half than we did in the second half. We just found that their full-backs were getting out and causing us problems. They ran forward and were able to get on the end of things.
“We rested a good number tonight. Gary Sawyer, David Fox, Toums [Toumani Diagouraga], [Joel] Grant and [Jake] Jervis, as well. We rested them all.”
Derek said that the Argyle bench was keeping an ear on events at St James Park, where Exeter led Chelsea by a Reuben Reid goal before Chelsea stormed back to win 3-1.
“We knew what was happening,” he said. “First, we knew we had to win the game; then we knew that Chelsea were winning so it was important we kept it at 1-1 and maybe try and win on penalties. When it went to 2-1, we wanted to get back and equalise.”