Carl Fletcher: substitutes gave Plymouth Argyle some impetus
A DOUBLE substitution in the second half gave Argyle the impetus to draw the Devon derby against Exeter at St James' Park, according to manager Carl Fletcher.
The Pilgrims were trailing 1-0 when Fletcher sent on Nick Chadwick and Warren Feeney in the 66th minute, with Rhys Griffiths and Conor Hourihane making way for them.
Chadwick took over as the focal point for Argyle's attack with Feeney playing behind him in a 4-4-1-1 formation.
It also meant Luke Young moved into the centre of midfield with Mark Molesley.
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Feeney, in particular, was very lively after being thrown into the fray by Fletcher and it was not long before the Pilgrims drew level.
The equaliser came in the 72nd minute as winger Joe Lennox fired into the net off the inside of a post.
Fletcher had pointed out to his players at half-time, when they were losing 1-0, it was important not to push forward too much and risk conceding a second goal.
He said: "You don't want to go too gung-ho too early on. If you go out and try to get an equaliser straight away it could be 2-0 before you know it and that's game over.
"We had to keep our shape and try to work things. We got the ball down in the second half and we were on top.
"We made a couple of substitutions when we needed a goal and it gave us a bit of impetus."
Exeter had been in seventh spot in League Two, 13 positions and 12 points better off than Argyle.
So, in the circumstances, Fletcher was pleased to leave St James' Park with a draw.
Fletcher said: "Exeter are in the play-off positions and are there on merit. They are a good side so we knew it was going to be tough."
Exeter had taken the lead in the 34th minute with a shot from midfielder Liam Sercombe.
The ball took a slight deflection off an outstretched leg of Argyle centre-back Maxime Blanchard, which took it past 'keeper Rene Gilmartin and into the net.
Fletcher said: "It was disappointing to go a goal down. I thought we were in control of the game.
"We set up well. I think they (Exeter) changed their formation a couple of times in the first half to combat us.
"I think the goal was a little bit against the run of play," continued the Pilgrims' boss.
"In the second half, we came out on the front foot and put them under a lot of pressure, and got the goal we deserved.
"We rode our luck a little bit, and (Exeter top scorer) Jamie Cureton didn't have his finishing boots on, which we are delighted about.
"I think in the grand scheme of things, an away point in a derby game on the back of a home win last week (2-0 against York City) it's a good day."
Argyle ended the game with 10 players after Blanchard was sent-off in the 88th minute.
He was red carded after a second bookable offence when he impeded Exeter striker John O'Flynn after he had headed the ball past him.
Fletcher had no complaints about the decision of referee Andy Woolmer.
He said: "We didn't mark properly at the throw-in and he (O'Flynn) got through too easily, and Max has taken one for the team. That's all you can say.
"I can't argue with it. It's a yellow card, but it's to take the yellow card than have them go through and score a goal."
Blanchard will now be suspended for one match, the long League Two trip to Accrington Stanley this Saturday.
Lennox made only his fifth start of the season for the Pilgrims because of a 'dead leg' to Paris Cowan-Hall.
"He has had two or three knocks on it in the last couple of weeks and just couldn't recover from it," said Fletcher.
"He could have tried to play through it but any kind of knock on it and he would have had to come off."
Cowan-Hall watched the Devon derby from the uncovered away end with the Green Army.
He was accompanied by four other Argyle players – Guy Madjo, Ollie Chenoweth, Matt Lecointe, Jamie Richards and Jared Sims.
Fletcher had warned before the game of the threat of former Pilgrims' striker Alan Gow.
Gow showed glimpses of his ability on the ball in the first half but was less effective after the break.
He was eventually substituted in the 78th minute and Fletcher gave the credit for that to Hourihane.
Fletcher said: "I thought we dealt with Gow quite well. We asked Conor to be a bit more disciplined in terms of where he played, and what he had to do when we didn't have the ball.
"He did it well, and that showed in the fact they brought Gowser off."
Fletcher also had words of praise for the Argyle's 1,226 travelling supporters at St James' Park.
He said: "We are so lucky. We take so many fans away from home.
"We get letters and so forth from other clubs commenting on how well the fans have behaved and things like that.
"I'm glad we got that equalising goal from them because they deserve it."