Plymouth Argyle earn maximum reward for sticking to their principles
COULD this tremendous come-from-behind triumph kick-start the season for Argyle?
Only time will tell, but the Pilgrims should take a lot of confidence not only from their 3-2 win on Saturday and the three points they picked up, but also in terms of their performance.
Argyle stuck to their principles of passing the ball, even when trailing by two goals.
They could have resorted to hit-and-hope tactics in desperation but continued to move the football around with a purpose.
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And their reward came with three goals inside the final 20 minutes – two of them penalties from striker Warren Feeney.
Morecambe, on this evidence, are not one of the better teams in League Two and are still waiting for their first home win of the season.
But, even so, the way Argyle outmanoeuvred them for most of the match was very encouraging.
The Pilgrims dominated the first half at the Globe Arena but trailed 1-0 at the break after a mistake from centre-back Darren Purse led to an early goal for the Shrimps.
Then, after twice coming close to an equaliser at the start of the second period, Morecambe extended their lead in the 51st minute.
For a brief period, Argyle lost their grip on the game and the Shrimps could have added a third goal.
But the Pilgrims showed terrific resolve as they survived this spell of pressure and then hit back determinedly.
Midfielder Ross Jenkins, who had an impressive debut after arriving on loan from Watford, started the comeback in the 72nd minute with a stunning strike.
And Feeney's two late penalties wrapped up Argyle's first away success since they beat AFC Wimbledon 2-1 on March 6.
It was achieved without six of their first team squad because of injuries, with Onismor Bhasera the latest name on the casualty list.
The Zimbabwe international travelled to Morecambe as he was given every chance to try to prove his fitness but he had to sit it out.
Bhasera has arguable been Argyle's best player this season so it was a setback for them to be without him.
But Andres Gurrieri, in his first starting appearance since the 2-1 defeat at Oxford United on August 25, was a more than capable replacement on the left of midfield.
It will be a concern for manager Carl Fletcher that Argyle are continuing to concede some sloppy goals.
They have allowed 12 in eight league games this season and many of them have been preventable.
That is clearly an area they need to improve on in the coming weeks and months.
But there was much for Fletcher to feel positive about on Saturday, not least the immediate rapport between Jenkins and Conor Hourihane in the centre of midfield.
Jenkins slotted in seamlessly, after only one training session with his new team-mates.
He and Hourihane, both aged 21, dictated the play in midfield with their passing, and Morecambe could not stop them.
There have not been many more impressive debuts for Argyle in recent times than Jenkins had on Saturday.
Gurrieri and Alex MacDonald, playing either side of Jenkins and Hourihane, also fulfilled important roles.
Rather than staying out wide all the time, they repeatedly drifted inside and found space from which to attack the Shrimps defence.
When Gurrieri was replaced by Paris Cowan-Hall in the 62nd minute it was not because he was playing poorly but so that Argyle could try to utilise the pace of Cowan-Hall.
And that proved that to be a shrewd move by Fletcher as Cowan-Hall was heavily involved in the stirring fightback.
Morecambe had opened the scoring in only the fourth minute when Purse tried to let the ball run out of play but was dispossessed by striker Jack Redshaw.
He sped into the penalty area and from a very acute angle he slotted past keeper Jake Cole.
Purse, at 35 the Pilgrims' senior professional, did not need any telling he had made a major blunder.
Argyle were the better side for the rest of the first half, but could not get on level terms.
They were patient in their passing but lacked a cutting edge around the Morecambe penalty area.
Their best chance of an equaliser came in the 16th minute when a superb move ended with Hourihane having his shot kicked away by keeper Barry Roche.
MacDonald also had a couple of opportunities, the first a rising shot from distance which flew over the crossbar and the second a curling free-kick saved by Roche.
Redshaw was the only threat Morecambe had, and when he was bundled over by Purse in the 43rd minute the Argyle captain was booked.
Redshaw hobbled off the pitch after receiving treatment and did not reappear for the start of the second half.
Argyle had two early scoring opportunities, the first a free-kick from left-back Robbie Williams which was spectacularly pushed wide for a corner by Roche.
From the resulting corner, Purse headed the ball on target but Morecambe midfielder Kevin Ellison was stood by the near post and cleared off his own line.
The Shrimps were then awarded a penalty from their next attack as Richard Brodie, who was on as a substitute for Redshaw, ended up in a heap.
Brodie burst between right-back Durrell Berry and Gurrieri and, from my vantage point, seemed to be bundled over inside the box.
Referee Tony Harrington thought so, and booked Berry, but TV replays later showed no contact had been made with Brodie.
Nevertheless, Brodie slotted home the spot kick and Morecambe seemed destined for victory.
But Argyle dug deep and were thrown a lifeline when Jenkins crashed a 20-yard shot high into the net past Roche after the ball was touched back to him by Cowan-Hall.
It was a superb finish from Jenkins, who has scored only twice for Watford in 95 first team appearances.
Argyle were level in the 80th minute when a cross from Berry was missed by Cowan-Hall but the ball hit the hand of Morecambe midfielder Izak Reid.
Feeney tucked away the penalty and Jenkins tried to fetch the ball out of the net as he sensed victory was there for the taking.
Roche stopped him from doing so, and as the pair squared up players from both sides rushed to the scene.
Harrington ended up showing yellow cards to Jenkins and Morecambe centre-back Will Haining.
However, Jenkins' confidence that Argyle could win the game proved correct as they took the lead in the 87th minute with another Feeney penalty.
This time, Cowan-Hall was tripped by right-back Andy Parrish and Feeney did the rest.
Six minutes of stoppage time were added on but there were no late scares for Argyle as they confidently played out the rest of the match.