ARGYLE’S unbeaten run was extended to four games with a 1-1 draw against Rochdale, though Derek Adams believes his side deserved a second straight victory.
The Pilgrims still await their second home win of the 2017-18 Sky Bet League One campaign, but appear to be edging closer to that win – and to the exceptional standards Argyle have set in recent seasons.
The momentum formed by strong showings against Shrewsbury Town, Blackburn Rovers and AFC Wimbledon was carried straight into this game from the opening whistle, with Argyle taking the lead inside the first minute. A loose ball in midfield was picked up by Toumani Diagouraga and put into the path of Graham Carey, who chipped a cross to the far post for Joel Grant head into the corner.
Grant’s second goal in as many games galvanised the Greens even more, but the visitors worked their way back into the match. Sustained possession pushed Argyle back into their penalty area, until a scuffed shot from distance fell to Matt Done, who equalised on 33 minutes.
“I thought it was a decent game, end-to-end at times,” said Adams. “I thought that we had the best opportunities in the game.
“We scored very early and we looked in a confident mood. It looked like we were going to go on and score a few more goals, just in that ten-minute spell after we scored. We didn’t and Rochdale came back into the game and [score] a poor goal from our point of view. We should’ve blocked the shot. We drop off and end up defending our six-yard box when we should be defending our penalty spot and closed the attacker down.
“Rochdale pushed us back. They had decent possession, the full backs pushed forward and that enabled their inside players to play inside our full backs. It caused us a wee bit of trouble, but it wasn’t our doing. It was more Rochdale pushing us back – and we did it to them in the second half.
“We allowed them, probably, to get back into the game.”
Derek’s side aimed to replicate their flying start after the break and piled on the pressure. With more control in midfield and chances being created, it looked inevitable that the Pilgrims would forge ahead once more. Indeed, many of the Green Army thought their side had done just that, as a Carey free-kick crept inside of Rochdale goalkeeper Josh Lillis’ near post. Lillis clawed the ball away, though the jury is still out over whether the ball crossed the line.
“With the spell we had in the second half, the pressure we were put on them; they could feel themselves fortunate going home with a point tonight,” said Adams.
“I just think we dealt better with the three in the midfield. It was three against three in midfield. They had Camps, Williams and Henderson roving about, not playing in a particular area. We dealt better with that. We won the second ball more and caused them trouble.
“I haven’t seen it,” Adams admitted about the ungiven goal incident. “Some people have seen it and told me it was over the line. Some people have seen it and told me it’s not over the line. That’s the nature of the game.”
Goal or not, the pressure and chances created by Argyle may well have seen them take all three points on another afternoon. Still, after watching his side put in another good display and avoiding the wrath of the referee for a fifth straight game, the boss has plenty of positives signs to work with.
“We probably, over the share of it, should’ve won the match,” said Derek, “just with the chances we created.
“They [Rochdale] went on the offensive from the point of view that they had a lot of the ball. They’ve come here and they’ve had possession, but they’ve not really troubled us at times. We had the better opportunities on the day.
“I think that would be entitled to feel coming in after the game, with the chances we had, we should’ve won the match. But moving on, we’ve had four games now undefeated. We’ve had five games without a booking, so I think all in all, we’re starting to pick up. We’ve closed the gap between ourselves and getting out of the bottom four, which is good.”