A LATE goal cost Argyle the chance to guarantee a spot in the next stage of the Leasing.com Trophy after Chelsea pinched the last-gasp win through Jon Russell.
The Pilgrims entered the evening knowing a draw would be enough to definitely secure progress and, on a night where plenty of chances were created, Argyle manager Ryan Lowe felt the closing moments should have been about sensible game-management from his players.
While going down to a last-minute defeat is always a frustrating scenario, the positive side was a determined reaction to the disappointment of a weekend derby loss at Exeter City.
“We were playing some good football and created some good chances,” said Ryan. “They [Chelsea] were doing the same but weren’t really clinical, and neither were we.
"To lose it late on when you think it’s a 0-0 draw, I was a bit disappointed with the game-management. I know our lads were eager to go on and win but you can’t win every game.
"We’ve seen that before and just not quite understanding game-management in the latter part of the game. We went to win the game because you can’t set up to draw, as that would have backfired.
“We were solid and defended well at times. We got the ball at the top end of the pitch and had some great chances. Billy [Clarke] had some terrific chances in the first half and we got in some good areas in the second half, but it was just in those final areas that let us down.
“You just have to see the game out because the game was done. It is game-management to see the game out and be a bit more streetwise. It’s disappointing because it was so near, yet so far.
“In both boxes, for them and for us, I didn’t think anyone was going to score, but we haven’t been as savvy with the ball when we’ve had possession. We gave the ball away and bit of slick play from them [for the goal].”
The Pilgrims made six changes from the Exeter game but, despite the different personnel, it was a performance that reflected the determination within the whole squad to show a strong response to a painful weekend.
“The lads were disappointed [at Exeter] and we knew we would get a reaction,” said Ryan. “We made a few changes to give lads an opportunity and I always knew we would get a reaction, because you always do.
“We’ve seen a bit of a reaction and our lads got in their faces. There were a few tackles flying in, fair tackles, and the ref let a lot go early doors to let us play.
“The performance was ok, we played some good stuff but I’m disappointed with the game-management.”