‘CONFIDENCE’ was the buzzword after Argyle entered 2019 with a 3-0 Sky Bet League One win over Oxford United at Home Park, and nowhere was it better illustrated than in two-goal Ruben Lameiras.
The Portuguese midfielder’s second goal – the Pilgrims’ second-half third after he and Antoni Sarcevic had scored before the break – was just a wonderful individual effort.
Manager Derek Adams said: “He has shown in good glimpses that he can be a consistent performer. He scored last week; he has scored two today; and he's going to play against Southend in the next game.
“That's what you need – you need confidence, and he's getting that.”
Ruben’s second goal comprised a mesmerising run at the heart of the Oxford defence which ended with a perfect shot. It might have looked spontaneous but the move actually started in the Pilgrims’ dressing-room.
“We spoke about it at half-time,” said Derek. “I said to Ruben and Graham Carey that the next time they came inside, they should try and reverse [their shot] low down to the bottom corner because the goalkeeper had started to read them and knew a left-footer was going to come in and going to hit it across.
“Ruben did it to perfection and it went right along the ground to the goalkeeper's left-hand side.
“They have got undoubted ability, the two of them, and both of them had a work-ethic when we didn’t have the ball. When we did have the ball, they opened up Oxford a number of times.
“The team performed well. There were a number of really good performances in the team – the back four looked solid; the midfield looked in control; and the front three were always going to be a problem for Oxford. We played on the front foot and caused them, in little pockets, some problems.”
Not least of all to former Argyle captain Curtis Nelson and his centre-back partner Rob Dickie.
Derek said: “They didn’t know what to do; they were all over the place. They certainly knew they were in a game. We knew that we could get at the two centre-halves – Freddie’s got pace to run the two of them, and a wee bit of guile coming in off the side was going to cause them problems.
“We have got a very good squad. We have shown that today, and we have shown it in glimpses this season. It is just about getting confidence going forward.
“We should have won games this season where we haven’t won. That has been the story of our season. We have given away individual errors that have enabled teams to get a start in the game but, today, we were the ones that got on the front foot."