Plymouth Argyle boss: "We'll take this good clean-sheet"
Manager Carl Fletcher wants Plymouth Argyle to pass the ball as much as possible – and believes his players are starting to get the message.
Fletcher made the comment after the 0-0 draw against Torquay United in a closely-contested Devon derby at Plainmoor on Saturday.
Torquay had the better of the first half but Argyle were much improved after the break. The Pilgrims had more of the possession in the second period and created some decent chances which they could not convert.
Fletcher said: "I'm really pleased with the way the lads stuck to the task, but I'm even more pleased with the bravery they showed in the second half to actually get on the ball.
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"You look at players like Darren Purse and Paul Wotton. It's probably not what they have been asked to do in previous years, but they are taking it on board.
"When you get the ball down and you are having good possession, you enjoy it a lot more, rather than just trying to chase second balls all the time."
Fletcher admitted Argyle had shown signs of nerves in the first half at sun-drenched Plainmoor. He added: "Defensively, we were fine and did what we needed to do, but we were not where we wanted to be on the ball.
"That comes with playing in a derby game. You get nervous and don't want to make a mistake. But the bravery the lads showed in the second half, to get the ball down and do the right things, I was really pleased with."
Argyle right-back Durrell Berry and left-back Robbie Williams had their hands full with Torquay's Danny Stevens and Billy Bodin, but they coped admirably.
Fletcher said: "I think you will do well to find a better one-versus-one defender than Durrell. Both my full-backs were terrific, as were the two centre-halves Purse and Maxime Blanchard and the goalie Jake Cole. "We got a clean-sheet away from home and Torquay don't lose many games here. They've got some really good players."
Stevens was playing for the first time this season, after a thigh injury. His individual battle with Berry in the first half was an absorbing one, with the Gulls' winger coming out on top. But Berry came on strong in the second half, and Stevens was substituted in the 66th minute.
Berry got better and better as the game went on and made one crucial block from Bodin's goal-bound shot in the closing stages. Fletcher said: "Both their wingers, Bodin and Stevens, are very tricky and my full-backs knew they would come under a little bit of pressure. But I thought they handled it with great maturity and professionalism.
"Durrell made a great block near the end, and Williams did the same in the first half as well. It's a team effort. When you come to places like Torquay, you know you are going to come under pressure during the game, and it's how you see it through.
"I thought we saw it through well. In the first half, we definitely quietened the crowd down, which was pleasing from our point of view.
"We'll take this good clean-sheet away from home at a tough place to go to and move on to next week [at home to Port Vale this Saturday]."
It has been a common theme this season for Argyle to put in an improved performance after half-time, and it was the same against Torquay.
Fletcher said: "I spoke to the lads at half-time and tried to instil that belief in them. You could see in the second half they are all good players and can handle a football.
"It was a fairly even game. It was certainly a tough game. On another day, I think we could have nicked it, but Torquay will probably feel they could have nicked it."