ARGYLE came through a difficult opening half-hour of Mansfield pressure to produce a performance full of efficiency and clinical finishing in running out eventual 3-1 winners.
The Greens were unable to find their normal rhythm in the early exchanges and Alex Palmer showed his full range of goalkeeping talents to keep the scores level, laying the platform for Niall Canavan to head the Pilgrims in front just before half-time.
A penalty from Antoni Sarcevic gave Argyle a cushion before the visitors pulled one back but substitute Ryan Hardie confirmed the home win with a late third.
“I didn’t enjoy the first 30 minutes or so, especially the first 15, and then we sort of got a foothold,” said manager Ryan Lowe. “They [Mansfield] have got one of the best strike-forces in the league, all quality players.
“We knew they were going to cause us a problem and they certainly did, but that’s why we’ve got one of the best ‘keepers in the league because he’s kept them at bay.
“When we get the ball down and play the patterns of play, we’re a good team, and we showed that in the second half. They [Mansfield] will probably feel hard done by that they haven’t gone in two or three goals up [at half-time] but I’ve been in that same situation as well, when we couldn’t hit a barn door.”
The early onslaught from Mansfield was withstood with strong defending and expert goalkeeping, allowing the Greens to gradually reassert the passing game that has brought so much success this season.
Incredibly, it is the fifth time we have come up against a side managed by former Pilgrim Graham Coughlan in the past six months, having faced Cocko’s former club Bristol Rovers in pre-season and cup competitions.
It naturally means Cocko had extra tactical insight on the Pilgrim plan but perseverance from Argyle eventually bagged the three points that move us up to fourth in Sky Bet League Two
“The character and attitude was different class,” said Ryan. “We played too many long balls in the first half and Jeps [Luke Jephcott] doesn’t want to be fighting with three centre-halves for aerial balls. I said to the lads that you’ve got to keep playing [passing football].
“They pushed three lads up against us and sometimes you think ‘shall I just play it in behind’ but no, we’ve got the quality to play and that shone through in the end. If they believe they can do that at every opportunity, they will succeed.
“We’ve got to make sure we stick to the plan and we tried to do that in the first 10 or 15 minutes, but you have to give Mansfield credit. They got in a couple of times and one of the only teams that has tried to stop us playing.
“When you play a Graham Coughlan team five times, you obviously understand a little bit of how he can nullify us but it was the character of our lads to keep doing what we asked and persevering to get the goals.”