DEREK Adams is not a man normally given to superlatives.
So, when the Argyle manager uses the word ‘unbelievable’ three times in the same sentence, you know he is talking about something very special.
Such was his assessment of the Pilgrims’ 3-2 Sky Bet League One victory at Southend United, where only a controversial penalty and an outstanding injury-time strike dented an otherwise dominant display.
Up until Simon Cox’s 86th-minute spot-kick and Charlie Kelman’s long, long-range lob, Argyle looked full value for the lead given them by Antoni Sarcevic’s goal midway through the first half and post-interval strikes from former Blue Freddie Ladapo and Ruben Lameiras.
Certainly, it was a display that had Derek name-checking every Pilgrim.
“It was a very, very good performance,” he said.
“[Southend] got a penalty-kick; they scored a wonderful opportunist goal to make it 3-2, but, over the 90 minutes, we were far better than Southend. We passed the ball, created chances, made opportunities and it was a really, really sweet victory for us.
“Sarcevic, Fox, Songo’o – unbelievable; Lameiras, Carey, Ladapo, who had been here before – unbelievable; the back four and goalkeeper – unbelievable. Every single one of them playing in today’s game were top performances.
“The performance levels were excellent, and the way we went about our business, keeping the ball, moving it, and getting our goals.
“We’ve come in for a lot of criticism from a lot of people; we don’t listen to it – we take it on board and we move on. Today was a very, very accomplished performance and they all deserve top marks for it.
“We should have had a clean sheet today. [Southend] get a penalty and they score a wonder goal. I probably would have said that the only way they were going to score was from a penalty but, in the end, the young boy scores a stunner.”
Derek was pleased that the players responded to a long FA Cup third-round weekend off – followed by double-sessions back at Home Park – and pleased with how fans of both sides responded to their efforts.
He said: “We had given them days off over the weeks gone by, and we ran and ran and ran. We pressed them all over the pitch; we recovered the ball well; we had a section in the second half of the match [at] 3-0 up and there were ‘oles’ going on in the far corner because of the way we kept the ball and moved it.
“Even the home fans were clapping, giving us ‘well done’ and I think that’s what you need to see in the game, when home supporters really appreciate good football. Today, undoubtedly, supporting our team, the way we passed the ball and moved, was pleasing to see from opposition fans.”
Not even the two late goals could dampen the manager’s enthusiasm for what he had seen.
The penalty – Southend’s second of the season against the Pilgrims – came when an assistant referee flagged after Sam Mantom’s fierce drive smacked into Ryan Edwards, before substitute Kelman stunned just about everyone in the ground with his audacious goal.
Derek said: “[The ball] hit Ryan Edwards’ hand. He doesn’t believe it was a penalty; it was a rocket of a shot into him. It was the linesman who gave it.
“The youngster came on and it was a fantastic opportunist goal from him. What a finish it was and it did make the scoreline flattering towards Southend.”