Paul Wotton had key role in Plymouth Argyle win at Aldershot, says boss John Sheridan
JOHN SHERIDAN'S decision to call upon the experience of Paul Wotton for Plymouth Argyle's crunch away clash against Aldershot Town on Saturday paid off.
Wotton made his first start since Sheridan was appointed as manager and played the midfield holding role as the Pilgrims came out on top 2-1.
The 35-year-old repeatedly won headers from the long throws of Aldershot's Peter Vincenti, as well as from many corners.
It was an afternoon when Argyle had to dig deep and, collectively, roll up their sleeves.
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No-one typified that more than Wotton in his 466th appearance for Argyle as three precious points in the fight for Football League safety were secured.
Sheridan said: "I threw Wottsie in there. I felt we were lacking a bit of height.
"I know what Aldershot are good at and I thought Wottsie came in and shielded the back four.
"He reads the game. That's why he has played for so long.
"He has been a good player and has got a lot of experience, and the biggest thing for me is he talks.
"He gets a grip of people on the pitch because I think we are quite a quiet team.
"That's one thing I knew he would be – vocal – and help one or two of the younger players."
Sheridan also gave an immediate debut to 22-year-old midfielder Lee Cox.
He had only completed a loan move to Argyle from League One outfit Swindon Town the previous day.
Cox did not have a training session with his new team-mates before playing against Aldershot.
The midfielder spent the first five months of this season on loan to Oxford United, with his last game for them coming on New Year's Day.
Sheridan said: "Coxy did well for his first game. He just got on the bus with the lads.
"You can see he's a bit short of match practice and he doesn't know many of the players but he was part of a good win."
Two goals from Crystal Palace loan signing Jason Banton secured a vital victory for Argyle.
Aldershot put them under a lot of pressure in the second half, with midfielder Danny Rose shooting against a post.
However, Sheridan's side held on for maximum points and moved up two positions to 20th in the League Two table.
Sheridan said: "Considering Aldershot are one of the teams in and around us, it's a massive win for us.
"If we had been beaten, it would have been a big step for Aldershot to get away from us.
"It was a great effort from the players. Again, I don't think we have played great but they didn't half battle.
"That's what they have done for me. They have battled in the last four games.
"I don't think we have played well in any of them but that's two wins and two draws, and I will take that all day.
"They are working very hard for each other but I would like us to retain the ball better.
"To come away and get a result against a team who are near the bottom with us is a great boost."
Banton's two goals came in only his second appearance for Argyle after arriving from Palace.
The 21-year-old had made his debut in the 0-0 draw with Dagenham and Redbridge at Home Park the previous Saturday.
Sheridan said: "He's a threat. When he gets the ball he excites me anyway.
"I don't think he gets enough of the ball. We have got to know what his strengths are. He can be a match-winner.
"He just gives me that little buzz when he gets the ball. They were two great goals.
"There was a bit of a deflection for the first one, but it's a shot and it's on target. And it was a great finish for the second one.
"It gives you something to fight for, and we have held on in the end."
Argyle needed good fortune to be in their favour, with Aldershot having three penalty appeals for handball waved away by referee Fred Graham.
One involving Argyle centre-back Guy Branston shortly before half-time looked a clearcut offence.
Sheridan said: "They (Aldershot) do put balls in the box and they are a handful.
"They are a decent side. We have had them watched a couple of times. You have to defend the second balls and the scraps.
"I think there were one or two penalty decisions which did go our way but sometimes you need a bit of luck. We will take that.
"I have seen them given, and I have seen them not. It was our day. I'm very pleased to get the three points."
There was also a debut for on-loan Reading striker Gozie Ugwu, who was an 82nd minute substitute for Reuben Reid.
Reid had led Argyle's attack for most of the match with support from Banton and Paris Cowan-Hall out wide.
Between them, they had pace to burn, and Sheridan wants to see Argyle exploit that more.
Sheridan said: "I would like us to use it a little bit, and know when to use it. I would really like us to keep the ball longer – I keep saying it – but I think we are slowly improving.
"That's four unbeaten now and for a team in our position that's not a bad little run we are on.
"They are all tough games in this division. I know, on our day, we can beat anyone and that's what I have got to put into the players."