Beating Dale and the Conditions
ARGYLE beat a Rochdale side looking to extend their home record to four games unbeaten, as well as atrocious weather, to come away from the Crown Oil Arena with all three Sky Bet League One points.
In freezing rain that did not relent for the entire 90 minutes, the Pilgrims took a 73rd-miniute lead when Joel Grant scored his fourth goal in his last five games against Rochdale.
Bradden Inman levelled soon afterwards but a miskick by Dale goalkeeper Josh Lillis allowed team-mate David Perkins’ back-pass to trickle into the goal for the Pilgrims’ winner.
Argyle manager Derek Adams said: “It was a tough encounter, conditions were very difficult, but we’ve come through it and won the game.
“The pitch held up very well today – it was a firm pitch – but the amount of rain we have had made it difficult for both teams.
“[Rochdale] had to deal with us in the first phase of the game and we had to deal with them in the second.
“We started very well. We took the game to Rochdale and we had four or five attempts on goal early in the game.
“We probably should have gone ahead, but we didn’t and came into half-time at 0-0. Then, Rochdale had their chance in the second half, going down the slope.
“Both teams tried to get down the sides of each other and pass the ball and create openings. We had to deal with the threat that [Calvin] Andrew always gives Rochdale, and we dealt well with [Ian] Henderson, as well, because he can pop up and score.
“Throughout the afternoon, we limited them to few direct opportunities on goal, but they still plugged away.”
Argyle broke through Rochdale’s high defensive line on many occasions but did not make any of them tell until 17 minutes from time, when Antoni Sarcevic led a counter-attack that saw him slip in Joel.
Derek said: “Sarcevic did really well down the side, picking up the second ball and playing on the front foot. We had changed the formation just at that time and it was great that Joel was again in the box, getting a goal.”
While the winner owed more to luck than any creative influence by Argyle, Derek felt his players deserved their break.
He said: “We haven’t had much fortune this season, and there is no doubt that, a good number of times this season, we should have had more points than we did.
“We have got a group of players that are very positive and they want to do well. They dug in well today because the conditions for both teams were horrendous.
“We’re absolutely freezing and will be glad to get a shower.”
Argyle’s final home game before Christmas sees them host Accrington Stanley and Derek said: “It’s going to be a lot milder than it is up north. It’s a culture shock coming this far north and seeing the weather as it is today.
“Next week is another big game for us because Accrington have done well.”
The victory did not lift the Pilgrims out of the League One relegation zone, but put them one point from safety, improving their prospects of mounting a seasonal push up the division.
Derek said: “It’s a lot brighter because we closed the gap between ourselves and a lot of teams, and it gives us an opportunity to push on and catch those teams.
“We can still do better – we know that – but it’s work in progress.”