LEADERS ARE BEST YET IN CARLISLE WIN
Pilgrims go three clear at the top
PLYMOUTH boss Derek Adams rated Argyle’s performance in the win over Carlisle at Ewood Park as one of the best in their table-topping campaign so far.
Ryan Brunt’s sublime free-kick gave Argyle a first-half lead, while his second in injury time went in via a Troy Archibald-Henville deflection to seal Plymouth’s fourth successive win.
And the Argyle boss sees no reason why his side cannot be playing League One football next season.
“It was an unbelievable display. It ranks up there with one of the best we’ve had this season,” said Adams. “It was excellent from start to finish.
“In the second half we had a number of good opportunities to add to the scoreline, but overall it’s a thoroughly deserved victory.
“We’ve had to deal with a lot of long balls, throw-ins, and we knew that before the game.We set up to deal with it and tactically, it was down to perfection.
“Of course we can gain promotion, there is no doubt about it. Our form tells you that.”
Carlisle’s Alex Gilliead cut inside to fire just wide within the first five minutes, his side playing their first football since before Christmas.
Argyle replied through Jake Jervis’s tenth-minute free-kick which curled over the wall but into Mark Gillespie’s arms. But the deadlock was broken by the visitors through ex-Bristol Rovers man Brunt’s superb curling 26th-minute free-kick which flew into the net with Gillespie rooted to the spot.
Carlisle captain Danny Grainger was again the source of problems for Plymouth after his deep 39th-minute cross into a crowded box found Derek Asamoah, who failed to control at close range.
Two minutes after the break, Antony Sweeney controlled Michael Raynes’s header and turned to fire from close range and drew Luke McCormick into a sublime fingertip save from Carlisle’s best chance.
Plymouth substitute Craig Tanner nearly capped off a brilliant passage of play when he pulled the trigger while free in the box, but Mark Ellis was on hand to make a vital challenge, while the former Crewe defender saw his effort saved moments later at the other end.
The Blues continued to search for an equaliser, with Gary Dicker’s lofted 71st-minute ball finding Asamoah whose header was saved.
Moments after a Carlisle chance, Plymouth broke forwards with Tanner threading in Wylde who fired a powerful 73rd-minute effort at Gillespie.
Ellis should have levelled after rising highest from Grainger’s 75thminute corner but nodded off target with the goal gaping.
Brunt attempted to recreate his magic from the first half with an 87thminute free-kick but his effort cleared both the wall and Gillespie’s crossbar.
But Argyle did double their lead in stoppage time when Brunt’s shot took a wicked deflection off Archibald-Henville to loop over a stranded Gillespie, though Gregg Wylde may have got a touch from close range. Carlisle boss Keith Curle revealed top scorer Jabo Ibehre was missing as he was with his daughter who had been rushed to hospital, but pinpointed Plymouth’s defending as key to their win.
“We built it up in the changing room as a challenge and a test against the top of the league team that are playing with confidence, playing with direction and getting results," he said.
“It was a good opportunity to pit ourselves against them and compete, and I don’t think it was a challenge that we shied away from.
“Their back line, how they defended the 18-yard box and sometimes inside the six-yard box, won them the game and no way is that to be derogatory to our players.”
GOING WYLDE: Plymouth midfielder Gregg Wylde celebrates after Argyle forward Ryan Brunt’s deflected shot, inset, makes it 2-0
FIRST BLOW: Plymouth forward Ryan Brunt fires in a superb free-kick to net the opening goal
STAR MAN RYAN BRUNT Plymouth