Coventry City (A) | Schumacher's Reaction
Argyle were not at their best on a freezing cold Tuesday night at Coventry City, but it was a game that seemed to be wending its way towards a goalless draw until the hosts scored the only goal of the game through Haji Wright.
The circumstances rather stuck in the collective Argyle craw. It appeared that Milan van Ewijk had dribbled the ball past the goal-line before he cut back for Wright to knock in the game’s only goal.
The Argyle players reacted angrily, feeling aggrieved at the lack of a flag to signal a goal-kick, and their frustration was reflected in manager Steven Schumacher, speaking after the game.
“You can tell from our players reaction, how the whole team basically ran towards the officials because they could clearly see it was out,” he said. “[The referee] said coming off the pitch that only half the ball was out, but we've all seen the pictures, we've all seen the angle. It's definitely more than that.
“Our performance wasn't brilliant, but I don't think we deserved to lose the game either. We should have come away from it with a 0-0, if anything, but a poor call has cost us.
“We had little spells in the game where we managed to string a few passes together. Some of our quality tonight just wasn't there. We gave the ball away too cheaply. We got into really good areas on the pitch and then didn't make anything of it. That’s not like us. We've been pretty good going forward and a bit more clinical than that. The same goes for Coventry as well.
“I think they had spells in the game where they were in control of possession and got to the final third, and we either intercepted it well or they made a poor call. It was quite balanced; that's how it felt on the sideline, and we felt going into the last bit of the game that if we're in the game, we might only need one goal from a set play or a chance for someone to produce one little moment.
“Unfortunately, we didn't do that, and the call has been the deciding factor in the game.”
Schumacher kept the same starting 11 that began the 2-0 victory over Sunderland on Saturday, introducing Tyreik Wright for Bali Mumba just before the hour mark, and three further subs into the fray just after.
It seemed that those from the bench freshened up proceedings, with Argyle coming more into the game, which made the goal feel like even more of a sucker punch.
“It's a tough ask to go Saturday-Tuesday with the same 11,” Schumacher said. “Sometimes that can work for you, sometimes it doesn’t.
“I thought the lads gave us everything for an hour. I thought [Luke] Cundle and Finn [Azaz] were just looking a little bit tired, so we freshened it up. I thought Adam [Randell] and Callum [Wright] initially when they came on did well. Waineo [Ben Waine] worked as hard as he could and Mustapha [Bundu] gave us a bit of energy. I thought we were just on top in the game when those lads came on.
“Then, kind of out of the blue, they scored. We kept going, we huffed and puffed towards the end, but we just didn't have it tonight. It just wasn't our best night going forward at all.
“Bringing 1,500 fans on a Tuesday night that's freezing cold, just before Christmas away from home - it's important that the lads put 100 per cent effort in it. I think we did that. That’s the bare minimum.
“I don't think they didn't try, the lads; tonight just wasn't their night. The fans could see we gave everything. They probably agree with [me about] the decision because, it's right in front of them and they can see it.”
The game marked the 200th game in an Argyle shirt for Joe Edwards. The captain, who has been part of two promotions with the Pilgrims, played in typically committed fashion, and in speaking about his skipper after the game, Schumacher had nothing but praise, but felt only sadness that a result could not be achieved on his milestone evening.
“I’m pleased for him,” said Schumacher. “Before the game, we presented him with a shirt, and we said it'd be brilliant if we can come here and get our first away win. What a night to do it. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be.
“Joe's been a brilliant player for us. Only 70 players have played 200 games for Argyle, he should be really proud of that.
“He's been a brilliant captain for us, a brilliant player for us over the last four-and-a-bit years, and hopefully we see a lot more of him as well.”