New Argyle boss Sheridan delighted with three points
THE THREE points were all that mattered to John Sheridan as his first match at Plymouth Argyle manager ended in success.
Relegation-threatened Argyle beat Morecambe 2-1 in a tense encounter at Home Park on Saturday.
The Pilgrims took a 2-0 lead inside 16 minutes with goals from captain Conor Hourihane and Paris Cowan-Hall.
They could not build on that early momentum, however, and Morecambe were much the better side in the second half.
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Ryan Williams replied for the Shrimps in the 80th minute and Jack Redshaw missed a sitter soon afterwards.
So it was a relieved Sheridan who reflected on Argyle's first win since they beat York City 2-0 at Home Park on December 8.
He had only three training sessions with his new players before they took on Morecambe.
Sheridan said: "We all know what is at stake. We needed to get the three points. I'm really pleased with the players.
"Their attitude has been different class since I have come in. The tempo of the training has been good.
"To get two early goals gives you a cushion, and it's something to keep and they (Morecambe) have got to score three to win the game.
"You could see the edginess in the players and I have got to try to get that out of them.
"You have got to accept that because we are near the bottom of the league but the work ethic, I couldn't ask for any more from them.
"Morecambe are a difficult team to play against. They are a big, strong outfit.
"Hopefully, I can get a little bit of nous into the players so that when we are in the lead we dictate the game more and don't do silly things.
"A lot of our problems were little things, like miskicking the ball and not clearing it properly.
"We will learn from it. We are a young team. I'm very pleased to get off to a winning start," added the 48-year-old.
Hourihane put Argyle ahead in the 10th minute with his fourth goal of the season.
Sheridan said: "It was a great goal from young Conor. I told him he could be getting in the box a little bit more.
"He was the one who was going to support the front men, and he did that."
Cowan-Hall put the Pilgrims further into the lead six minutes later when he converted an excellent low cross from Ronan Murray.
Murray was making his debut after signing on loan from Ipswich Town until the end of the season.
Sheridan said: "The second goal was a great little ball from Ronan. He's a clever little footballer, with his touch and awareness.
"You can see the little bits of quality he has got in his game.
"Some of the little balls he played in across the goal, with his weaker foot, were a striker's dream."
Sheridan sprang a surprise by playing defender Maxime Blanchard in the centre of midfield.
He did so to try to combat the physical strength of Morecambe and thought the experiment had worked.
Sheridan said: "They (Morecambe) are a big threat at set plays and had eight players out on the pitch who were over six foot.
"We lacked a little bit of height throughout the team so I was always going to put Max in there, and I thought he did well.
"He tired towards the end but was decent on the ball and won his headers. Now I know he can play in there, which is good.
"If you have been playing centre-half, then midfield is a totally different game. You are involved a lot more.
"You are defending and you are attacking but I was pleased the way he went."
There was a call-up for midfielder Jamie Lowry, who made his first start for the Pilgrims since the 1-0 defeat at Bradford City on November 20.
He had previously played under Sheridan when they were both at Chesterfield.
Lowry was pressed into service on the left of midfield and lasted 78 minutes before he was replaced by Paul Wotton.
Sheridan said: "Jamie knows how to play that position. He did that a lot for me at Chesterfield.
"I have always liked him playing that position. He's good on the ball and I knew if I had played him there he knows what I expect from him."
Murray, Lowry and another debutant Guy Branston came into the side for the visit of Morecambe.
Making way for them were Robbie Williams and Luke Young, who were both on the substitutes' bench, and Nick Chadwick, who started a six-match suspension.
Sheridan said: "It wasn't a case of dropping players but I had to change one or two things with the results they have been having and the position in the league.
"I don't like leaving anyone out because they all train wanting to play on a Saturday. They are all after the same thing.
"I know Jamie is not a type of player who is going to run and beat people but I know he can deliver, and with him tucking in a little bit it gave Conor licence to get forward more."
SEE MONDAY'S HERALD FOR MORE REACTION AND PICTURES