PRACTICE made perfect for Ryan Edwards as he returned to football with a goal, but there was no perfect ending to his and Argyle’s day as Walsall came from behind to win 2-1 at the Banks’s Stadium.
The centre-back opened the scoring in the Pilgrims’ opening Sky Bet League One match of their 2018-19 campaign, his first game since undergoing surgery in January and subsequent intensive chemotherapy following diagnosis of testicular cancer.
His goal, late in the first half, seemed destined to send Argyle into the interval ahead of their hosts but Walsall equalised when Andy Cook bundled home the loose ball after Matt Macey saved a penalty.
The home side then went ahead early in the second half through Luke Leahy’s direct free-kick, which was bent around the Argyle defensive wall and, despite a lot of Pilgrims pressure, Walsall held out for the three points.
The result left Eddy with bitter-sweet feelings that were certainly more bitter, than sweet.
“At the time, it was a good feeling, a great feeling, a sort of welcome back,” he said, “but it stands for nothing now. I don’t care about it. We’ve come away with nothing. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter. I’m hurting more than anyone.
“What’s on my mind is the loss, not the goal. I would very gladly have not scored and taken the points, of course I would.”
Eddy’s goal was his second in successive appearances and bore marked similarities to the one with which he signed off before his enforced absence, in a 1-1 draw at Doncaster: a far-post volley at the far post following a free-kick delivery, this time from Conor Grant.
Eddy said: “He’s very good. If he’s keeping Carey off set-pieces, you know he’s got a decent delivery. That’s credit to him. Thanks to him for the goal; he’s put it where he wants it and where we worked on it, and it’s paid off.
“We stayed behind in training [on Friday]. We must have practiced 20-30 of those, myself, Scotty [Wootton] and Conor, whipping them in for us. We worked on putting [the ball] there and we’ve managed to score off it.
“We’ve got a threat off set-pieces, corners, free-kicks. Not just myself – we’ve got other lads, big lads in the team, [some] who even aren’t here today, who are all dangerous off set-pieces. We’re going to get the delivery now between Conor, who’s come into the squad, as well as Graham [Carey] and Foxy [David Fox].
“I’ve told the new lads that they are going to get chances and it’s up to us to put them away. I’ve repaid the good delivery there.”
The focus now turns to Argyle’s first home game of the campaign, against Southend United on the second Saturday of the season, August 11.
“It’s a long season,” said Eddy. “We would have loved to win. We want to win every game, wherever we go and whoever we play at home. You are not going to win every game. Certainly, we think we should have been coming away with something today, but we haven’t and we have got to change something, obviously.
“We’ve lost our first game, our first game of 46, a long season. Hopefully, we’ll get more wins than losses; hopefully, that starts next week back at Home Park.”