PILGRIMS TOP OF THE TREE AT XMAS
PLYMOUTH manager Derek Adams believes his attacking substitutions to seal a smash-and-grab win at Accrington were rewarded as Argyle head into Christmas top of League Two.
On-loan Reading striker Craig Tanner scored the only goal 15 minutes after coming on as a substitute to give the Pilgrims top spot back after Doncaster won earlier in the day.
Adams – who told the players the Doncaster result [1-0 v Grimsby Town] – was delighted to grab the win at what he called a “hard place to play”.
“We’re delighted to be taking the three points home,” he said.
“They did have a lot of pressure and we soaked it up well, but we should have been two-up in the first half.
“They had chances in the second half, where they put a lot of pressure on us.
“With the three attacking substitutions, I thought we could win the game. At the start of the match, it was important we looked after Accrington and not come out all guns blazing.
“It’s put us back top of the table. We knew that Doncaster had won earlier in the day, so it was good for us to win.
“We told the players they’d won, and that only a win would get us back there.”
On 40 minutes, Luke McCormick made a super save, tipping Jordan Clark’s halfvolleyed effort over the bar.
The hosts kept knocking on the door, as skipper Seamus Conneely’s effort was deflected through a crowd of players and rebounded off McCormick’s post.
But, to the dismay of Stanley’s fans, Argyle scored the ultimate against the run of play goal on 76 minutes to lead.
Substitute Tanner slotted through Parish’s legs after fellow substitute Davd Goodwillie – once of nearby Blackburn Rovers – fed him a near-perfect through ball.
Clark looked to be fouled in the box in stoppage time, but referee Scott Duncan’s whistle never came for a penalty, before he nearly grabbed a fully-deserved point for Stanley, but his effort fell into McCormick’s arms.
A visibly-hurt John Coleman was downbeat afterwards, but full of praise for his players’ efforts and urged them to keep fighting.
He said: “I’m hurting – the players are hurting. We’re in a critical situation, but we don’t deserve to be there.
“I’ve got to take my hat off to the players as I thought they were fantastic.
“There seems to be a curse on that goal – we’ve had Seamus’s shot which has taken a deflection and onto the post. Then Jordan’s shot which also gets deflected, but the keeper is lying on the floor and it falls into his lap.
“They hit a pea-roll of a shot and it goes through our keeper’s legs.
“I’ve got to be proud of how the players played.
“I thought the fans were fantastic – they tried to drag us over the line and stuck with us.”
STAR MAN LUKE McCORMICK Plymouth TAN’S THE MAN: Plymouth players celebrate after Craig Tanner scores the winner, below