Hardie's Exeter Reaction
On a glorious Monday night Home Park full of temporary lows and scintillating highs, Ryan Hardie provided two moments of sheer jubilation on front of the Devonport End.
On as a 62nd minute substitute shortly after Bali Mumba’s stunning goal had made it 2-2 in the Devon Derby against Exeter City, Hardie scored two goals to give Argyle a 4-2 win on a historic night. Exeter had twice led, with Morgan Whittaker scoring shortly after Archie Collins gave the Grecians the lead, and Sam Nombe putting Exeter back in front before Mumba’s leveller.
The win meant a club record of nine consecutive home victories was set, and that the Pilgrims strengthened their position on top of the Sky Bet League One table.
For Hardie, it was a night of personal triumph too.
“It’s one of the highlights of my career,” he told Argyle TV after the game. “To do it for the club with such a massive importance to the game. I am delighted to come on and get the goals, but the credit has to go to the boys that started the comeback. Everybody on the pitch put everything they had into the game.
“Bali scored a wonder goal and Morgan scored to get us back in the game. I’ll take some of the credit, but it goes to the boys, all the management staff, and everybody around the place, from the fans to the owner: everybody.
“When I started on the bench, I just wanted to make sure I was ready to come on and make a positive impact. I think I did that!
“I feel like we never got started until they scored their goal. That kicked us into life a bit. Once they went 1-0 it took about minute and a half to get back into it; that got us going.
“It was a proper derby. Tackles, goals; the fans were brilliant. They kept us going for the full game. They pushed us over the line in the end.”
Hardie’s two goals came in typical Ryan Hardie fashion. Both were laid on by Whittaker, the first seeing Ryan hit the ball high into the net on the turn, the second a cool clip over the goalkeeper when through on goal.
The second, with six minutes left on the clock, sent Home Park wild, although Hardie and his team-mates knew the job was not yet done.
“There were still ten minutes to go” Hardie said, “so we couldn’t take our foot off the gas until the whistle because you don’t know what can happen. If they nick a goal, there’s only one in it.
“The feeling you get when you are running through on goal, and you hear the noise going ‘ohhhhhh’ – and then the celebrations. Brilliant.
“Morgs takes a lot of credit for his pass. He looked up, I took a touch, and it was just an instinctive finish into the roof of the net. When it went in, the nose was incredible, wasn’t it?
“I’m so happy to get the win. The most important thing was three points and to keep the unbeaten run at home going.
“We don’t really read too much into these things, we just take one game at a time. Getting that record is something we are very proud of. It’s only another game – we need to keep going.”
There was just one downside to the night. Hardie’s joy overcame him as he slid along the precious Home Park turf, and a pre-existing agreement with the ground staff means some of Ryan’s goal bonus will be spent whetting their whistle.
“I keep getting fined for my knee slides,” confessed Hardie. “I owe the groundsmen all the beer in the world!
“But I’ll take it. If I can keep scoring goals, I’ll keep buying them beer. No problem.”