THREE second-half substitutions were key to Argyle coming from behind to earn a Sky Bet League Two point from a 1-1 draw at Swindon Town’s Energy Check County Ground.
After going behind late in the first half to Eoin Doyle’s goal, Argyle introduced centre-back Niall Canavan at half-time.
He was shortly joined by attacking midfielders Jose Baxter and George Cooper, and the changes helped Argyle gain control of the match, with Cooper teeing up Joel Grant for the equaliser.
“It’s a good point,” said Pilgrims’ manager Ryan Lowe.
“Both teams were looking to get three points, but it wasn’t to be: [Swindon] scored a good goal on their behalf; we scored a fantastic goal on our behalf. We feel their goal could have been avoided.”
Although Ryan was not happy with Argyle’s first-half showing, and made his triple switch after the break, he felt that the Pilgrims were well in the contest.
“We were comfortable but we weren’t passing and playing as well as I want us to,” he said. “[Swindon] put a high block on us and stopped us playing a little bit. I still want us to be a bit more brave, still try and play.
“Niall’s come on; he’s done fantastic. Jose’s come on; he was fantastic, George Cooper was, too. They are what you want. They have been impact players today because they have impacted the game, come on and done fantastic.
“That’s what you’ve got them for. I’m the manager – I have to make those decisions. Sometimes people won’t be happy with them.
“Will’s more of a defender and a bit more pace in behind, and more dogged and aggressive. I’m not saying Niall’s not, but Niall’s a footballer, he gets you on the ball, so it was tactical that we made a change and I’d like to think it worked.
“They are my players. Whether they play or come off the bench, I know what they are going to give us.”
Swindon broke away and scored in front of 2,500 Green Army after Argyle wing-back Joe Riley had attempted to get on the end of a delivery into the Swindon penalty are from the opposite flank.
Ryan Said: “I think their lad’s headed it out and Joe Riley is out of his slot. They have come down; we think we’ve delayed it and then a little bit of clever movement from their strikers – our centre-half goes with him and leaves a gap.
“It’s a great finish on their behalf but that shouldn’t happen from attacking to defending.
“If we’d gone in at half-time 0-0, who knows what would have happened second half?”
The Swindon goal did not affect the manager’s half-time team-talk, nor alter his mind about bringing on Niall for the restart.
“The message was the same,” he said. “You know if your team is on form or not and I didn’t feel we were at that time; we wanted to get the ball down and play a little bit more – there were a few high balls and I thought the first half was a second-ball game. The substitution was happening anyway.”
The half-time change, and the subsequent introduction of Jose and George – wearing a mask to protect his fractured cheek – culminated in a pass from George to Joel for the equaliser.
“That’s what we work on during the week,” said Ryan. “I thought we could have had a couple more in the first half, and, in the second half, Sarce [Antoni Sarcevic] had one blocked on the line. We’ve worked our magic; we’ve got in some little areas, some clever play.
“Coops and Joel Grant combined very well for the goal. It was a fantastic goal on our behalf.
“As a manager, you want that more and more and more. We got one and both teams came away with a point which I thought was probably deserved for both teams.”