AFTER two seasons of handling the weight of expectation, Argyle boss Derek Adams is delighted to see his side thrive as underdogs, as they defeated Blackburn Rovers 2-0.
The Pilgrims once again proved they not just belong in Sky Bet League One, but have the ability to battle with the best sides in the division, snapping Blackburn’s streak of 18 unbeaten games. It was far from a fluke either, as Derek’s side showed from the opening throes that a special afternoon could be in the offing. After taking control of the match, Argyle took the lead on 25 minutes, as Ruben Lameiras smashed home his third goal of the season.
“I’m delighted,” said Adams, “because we’ve obviously come up against a team that had been unbeaten in 18 games.
“We started the game very well. We were on the front foot, we won the second ball, we completed passes, we ran forward and scored a very good goal from a set play. A ball into the box from David Fox; a header from Sonny Bradley and then an unbelievable finish from Ruben Lameiras. He’s capable of doing that, and it gave us a foothold in the game.”
The start of the match bared similarities to the Greens’ game against Wigan Athletic, in which their hard work was undone before half-time, conceding two goals. Argyle were in no mood to let that happen again, and doubled their advantage before the break. A stand-out showing from Antoni Sarcevic was highlighted by his skill and power in midfield, kicking off a counter-attack that led to Graham Carey’s inch-perfect cross to Ryan Taylor, who poked in from close range.
“We’ve picked the ball up with Sarcevic,” said Adams. “He’s sprayed the ball wide to Graham Carey, and a magnificent cross for Taylor, who was very good on the day. He was one of eleven players who started the game who did well. We had substitutes who came on and gave us that solidity to go forward.
“We are capable of doing that, and we’ve shown that we complete passes and run forward, and get players in the box. We’ve seen today that we had a number of opportunities in and around their area. It didn’t fall for us, but we had bodies in the box.”
Derek’s side were far from intimidated by the form or ability of their opposition, and almost appeared to turn that around and use it as the inspiration behind another excellent victory. Few onlookers would have expected such a good performance from Argyle against Rovers – and that allowed the entire team to play without pressure or fear.
“I did say before the game that it was a free game,” said Adams, “because the team at the top of the table is always expected to win. The players went out and played with that freedom, and it was good to see.
“I thought our full backs dealt well with their full backs because they ran onto them. In the midfield, we coped very well. The two centre halves were solid, and up front, Taylor’s always a threat, with Lameiras and Carey coming off the sides.”
No doubt that the players’ display was catalysed further still by the atmosphere at Home Park, which was once again loud and loaded with the Green Army, revelling in their side’s own superb form – losing just one game in their last eleven.
“I think the support we’re getting is magnificent,” said Derek. “That’s what you get when, as a promoted side, you go up through the division. A big team like Blackburn, who’ve come down from the Premier League; everybody wants to see them. They took a good following as well. But to get the crowd in that we got today can only help us.”