The Joys of Spring

THE life of a football manager is far from an easy one, but even Derek Adams was able to say, after watching Argyle defeat Southend United 4-0, that his team were a joy to watch.

The outcome of the Greens’ Good Friday meeting with the Shrimpers hardly ever looked like anything but a win for Argyle, with Ruben Lameiras opening the scoring after just three minutes. Graham Carey’s deflected strike half an hour later doubled the lead, and the match was put to bed on 52 minutes through Carey’s second goal, getting on the end of Oscar Threlkeld’s cross. 

Lameiras tapped in from close range three minutes from time to give the scoreline a deservedly dominant look, despite playing a side that many believed would pose a threat to Derek’s team. 

“Everybody was talking about Southend and what a terrific run they were on,” said Adams. “But we knew they weren’t, and we knew we would cause them trouble today.

“We spoke about that in the office. We knew we could get in the pockets, so to speak, and get ourselves in good areas where our technically gifted players could cause them problems. 

“We knew that they would play in a 4-4-1-1 formation. Once [Simon] Cox went higher up the pitch with [Marc-Antoine] Fortune, it left [David] Fox space. When he won the ball, it became 3v2 in our favour in the middle of the park. When Carey and Lameiras then jump inside, it becomes very difficult for central midfielders after that.” 

That recipe of strategies led to the sort of performance you always hope to see when arriving at the Theatre of Greens – an assured, classy display, with moments of flair and creativity that bring you to your feet. The Green Army certainly loved, and the boss was certainly in agreement with them. 

“I enjoy watching it,” said Derek. “I enjoy the fluidity through the match, the way that we move the ball from side to side, but there’s a killer pass through the lines at times, which is really good. We get the creative players on the half-turn, and when you’re on the half-turn against midfield players and defenders, you’ve got a problem. 

“We don’t play with two strikers; we play with overloads, and that’s the only way you can do it. 

“I think that [Jamie] Ness and Moses [Makasi] in midfield as well; they’ve got that creativity, they’ve got a bit of dig to win the second ball, and it allows them to go and play. It causes teams problems, because we create overloads all the time. 

“We’ve got players who want to play on the big stage. Today, we had another fabulous crowd here to witness it.” 

Such was the dominant position Argyle put themselves in, Adams was able to bring some regular first-team players off, and even deploy his substitutes into somewhat unfamiliar roles. Joel Grant, for example, was the Greens’ furthest player forward, and earned his side a penalty late on that Carey was unfortunately unable to convert.

“I put Joel Grant up front, and Taylor-Sinclair into midfield, Yann into midfield; it was just to do with the ones who needed a rest,” said Adams. “It was hard to find out which ones we weren’t going to give a rest. They all deserved it, and the ones who go on go and slot in.

“The penalty he [Grant] won, he did really well to get in that position. He was unfortunate not to have got his shot off.”