Schumacher's Bristol Rovers Reaction
When Bristol Rovers’ Antony Evans was sent off 26 minutes into their game at Home Park against Argyle on Tuesday night, Steven Schumacher’s mind shot back five weeks.
At Accrington Stanley, on 21 March, the Greens were 1-0 up when the home side went down to ten men. Although Argyle prevailed that evening, winning 2-0, Stanley made life difficult for Schumacher’s 11, and the manager took lessons from that game into this one.
Argyle kept calm, dictated the game, and through goals early in the second half by Niall Ennis and Macaulay Gillepshey, cruised to victory.
The win puts Argyle in a position where they know that a win on Saturday would guarantee automatic promotion.
“We knew this was a big game for us,” said Schumacher. “We knew we wanted to get three points that would get us a lot closer to the target that we need. We knew it was going to be a tough game, so we had to start really well.
“I thought we did that. For the first 25 minutes we were excellent. Bristol Rovers looked a threat and it looked like it was going to be a really good game. Then their lad gets two yellow cards; I don't the ref had too much of a decision to make.
“The game became different for us then. The lads kept trying to play at the right tempo and eventually got the goals - two great goals - and then the game's over.
“When Accrington got a red card against us, for 20-odd minutes, Accrington looked like they were a better team because we kept fouling and then they could put the ball in our box. So we spoke about that, about keeping the ball in play as long as you can, trying not to make any fouls.
“Jay Matete made one foul when he came on late on, I think that was the only foul we made in the second half. We didn't really give them opportunities to stick it in our box and cause problems.”
Niall Ennis’s opener was a thing of beauty. From James Wilson’s right-wing cross, Ennis chested the ball into the air and, as it dropped, hit a sublime overhead kick into the corner of the net.
That goal was swiftly followed by one from Macaulay Gillesphey, who headed in a Matt Butcher corner, and from that point it was plain sailing.
Schumacher said: “We wanted someone to get in the area and show a bit of quality – and Niall Ennis…wow. What a brilliant goal that was.
“It was a lovely ball in from Willo, and that's why Niall was in the team. He’s got strength with his back to goal. The Bristol Rovers centre-backs are all strong lads, and he might be able to just wriggle away from one of them. It was a brilliant bit of individual skill and it's right in the corner, the keeper had no chance.
“That got everyone going, and I was pleased that we didn't stop, we kept the tempo up for five, six minutes, and scored again – another set play goal, so Hughesy will be buzzing.
“After that the game slowed down, it just fizzled out, but we got three points and that's all that matters.”
The Green Army relaxed after the second goal, and although the decibel level in Home Park was high all night, a chorus of ‘ole’ greeting virtually every pass in the second period was a luxury few anticipated.
Another sell-out beckons on Saturday, against Burton Albion, and Schumacher has a message for what is understandably going to be an expectant faithful.
“I think the crowd understood that this was really going to be a tough game, playing one of our rivals. Once we got ourselves in front, we sensed that we were probably going to go on and win the game,” he said.
“It looked like the fans enjoyed it. What I will say though is that we're not over the line yet. We need one more. We're going to need everybody in here on Saturday to really take the roof off because they give the players so much energy.
“If we can play with that energy like we did today for the first half an hour and get ourselves ahead against Burton, we've got a great chance of achieving what we want to.”