Plymouth Argyle cling on for win in Sheridan's first match as manager
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 2 MORECAMBE 1
NERVES were frayed at the end but Argyle held on for a crucial win in John Sheridan's first match as Argyle manager at Home Park today.
The Pilgrims seemed to be in cruise control as they took a 2-0 lead inside 16 minutes.
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Captain Conor Hourihane fired them ahead before Paris Cowan-Hall put them firmly in control of the League Two clash.
But Morecambe did not buckle and they came back strongly in the second half.
Substitute Ryan Williams, on his Shrimps' debut, cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 80th minute but they could not come up with an equaliser.
It was Argyle's first win in seven games, since beating York City 2-0 at Home Park on December 8.
And while their performance was far from a convincing one, it was imperative the Pilgrims picked up three points.
It should give them a valuable boost of confidence as they try to escape relegation trouble.
Argyle's two new signings, centre-back Guy Branston and striker Ronan Murray, were both included in the starting line-up.
Murray, a loan recruit from Ipswich Town, was paired in attack with Warren Feeney.
Branston, who was a free agent after leaving Aldershot Town earlier this month, played in the centre of defence with Curtis Nelson.
Maxime Blanchard was surprisingly moved into a new midfield role by Sheridan.
There was also a call-up on the left-side of midfield for Jamie Lowry, who played under Sheridan at Chesterfield.
It was Lowry's first start for Argyle since the 1-0 defeat at Bradford City on November 20.
The Pilgrims were forced into a substitution as early as the eight minute after Feeney hobbled out of the action.
Tyler Harvey, 17, was sent on to replace the former Northern Ireland international.
Argyle were soon celebrating the first goal of Sheridan's managerial reign at Argyle as Hourihane struck in the 10th minute.
Hourihane cut inside and from 15 yards drilled a shot with his less-favoured right foot past Morecambe 'keeper Barry Roche.
It was 2-0 to the Pilgrims in the 16th minute when Murray's low left-wing cross was steered into the net by Cowan-Hall.
The same pair almost combined to put Sheridan's new side 3-0 up in the 33rd minute.
Murray drove in another low cross and Cowan-Hall, sliding in at the far post, could not quite get on the end of it.
Morecambe forced a series of corners before half-time as they started to dominate possession but could not turn that into chances, yet alone a goal.
The Shrimps did have a good opportunity to reduce the deficit in the 51st minute but failed to take it.
Left-back Robbie Threlfall provided a pinpoint cross and striker Jordan Burrow wastefully headed over the crossbar from six yards.
Argyle could not come up with any attacks as Morecambe continued to have much more of the ball than them.
Shrimps' top scorer Kevin Ellison sent a rising 20-yard drive over the bar after a nod down from Burrow in the 63rd minute.
Argyle 'keeper Rene Gilmartin unconvincingly beat away a free-kick from Williams soon afterwards.
Paul Wotton was a 78th minute substitute for Lowry as they switched to a 4-5-1 formation for the closing stages.
But Morecambe finally reduced the deficit a couple of minutes later after a superb 30-yard strike from Williams.
That set up a tense finale, with Morecambe substitute Jack Redshaw guilty of an incredible miss in the 83rd minute.
He seemed certain to score from close range but somehow sent the ball wide of the left post.
Morecambe right-back Andrew Parrish was then sent-off for a second bookable offence in the 85th minute after a foul on left-back Onismor Bhasera.
Murray hit the left post with a 20-yard shot for Argyle, but that did not matter as they held on for the vital victory.
ARGYLE: Rene Gilmartin; Durrell Berry, Curtis Nelson, Guy Branston, Onismor Bhasera; Paris Cowan-Hall, Maxime Blanchard (Luke Young 90 +3 mins), Conor Hourihane, Jamie Lowry (Paul Wotton 78 mins); Warren Feeney (Tyler Harvey 8 mins), Ronan Murray.
Substitutes (not used): Jake Cole, Robbie Williams, Rhys Griffiths, Joe Lennox.
MORECAMBE: Barry Roche; Andrew Parrish, Will Haining, Nick Fenton, Robbie Threlfall (Jack Redshaw 76 mins); Izak Reid (Stewart Drummond 32 mins), Andrew Fleming, Gary McDonald (Ryan Williams 68 mins), Kevin Ellison; Lewis Alessandra, Jordan Burrow.
Substitutes (not used): Dan Parkinson, Chris McCready, Joe McGee, Andreas Arestidou (gk).
REFEREE: Tim Robinson (West Sussex)
ATTENDANCE: 6,401 (33 away)
GOALS – Argyle: Hourihane 10, Cowan-Hall 16; Morecambe: Williams 80 mins