Argyle 2 – 1 Barnet
Hourihane 36. Hyde 21.
Cole 7, Blanchard 7, Charles 7, Branston 7, Bhasera 8, Murray 7, Cox 7 (Young 6), Hourihane 8, Gurrieri 7 (Cowan-Hall), Banton 5, Reid 5 (Ugwu).
Subs not used: Chenoweth, Richards, Wotton, Chadwick.
A tense and nervy game at the bottom of League Two ended with a deserved win for the Greens with Ronan Murray grabbing the winner early in the second half.
Argyle boss John Sheridan threatened to make wholesale changes for this match but instead made just the one with Andres Gurrieri replacing Gozie Ugwu and playing a 4-3-3 formation.
Argyle skipper Conor Hourihane was given the freedom to push forward in this new line-up, the inclusion of Gurrieri meant that League Two saw a midfield battle of Argentina v Holland with Dutch legend Edgar Davids playing (and managing) Barnet.
The build-up to this vital match was thankfully free of any unwarranted attacks on the club enabling all concerned to fully concentrate on the actual game.
Argyle started well and one noticeable difference from previous games was that the team pushed up, pressed and closed down higher up the pitch.
Barnet have a style of attempting to play football from the back through to the midfield but led by Hourihane the Greens closed down the Barnet player on the ball.
Despite Argyle’s good start it was Barnet who had the first meaningful attack and scored!
Elliott Johnson sent in a low cross that deceived Jake Cole in the Argyle goal, Branston was caught on his heels and Jake Hyde nipped in to tap the ball over the line.
1-0 to Barnet and against the run of play. Relegation now seemed very possible for Sheridan’s men.
The Greens rallied and good work by Reuben Reid set-up Hourihane on the edge of the area, his curling shot beat Graham Stack and the ball settled in the far corner.
1-1, game on and season on!
The first half continued with Barnet very reluctant to hit the ball long and instead passed it around the defence with Stack touching the ball with his feet more times than any outfield player!
Davids played like an American quarter-back, receiving the ball deep and starting off every Barnet attack.
Argyle took a deserved lead early in the second half when Hourihane played in Onismor Bhasera on the by-line. His low cross was mis-kicked by Reid and then again by Gurrieri and the ball found its way to Ronan Murray who lashed in a low drive that beat Stack.
2-1 to Argyle and suddenly League Two football was back on the agenda for next season!
Argyle now sat back and allowed Davids and Barnet have the ball deep in their own half and protected the lead.
Cole did have to make a great close range save from Barnet sub Iffy Allen but other than that there were no other scares.
With most of the other results going Argyle’s way it was a good day to be a member of the Green Army!
Bhasera was immense and easily Man of the Match, he covered so much ground and defended well.
Hourihane had one of his best games for Argyle and is a better player in a midfield three with license to get forward.
Murray had his best game in a Green shirt and scored the winner!
Blanchard isn’t an attacking full-back but was steady in defence and can be relied upon.
Cox was busy and Gurrieri always kept the ball and kept the team moving.
The downside was Reid and Banton, we needed more from them, Banton looked to be still suffering from his midweek injury but these are minor grumbles when every player played their part in a very important win.
Sheridan got his tactics and team formation spot on!
Man of the Match: Bhasera or Hourihane.
Argentina 2 – 1 Holland
Argyle 2 – 1 Barnet