Feeney seals comeback with penalty kick prowess
at the Globe Arena
Could Saturday's tremendous come-from-behind triumph kick-start the season for Plymouth Argyle?
Only time will tell, but the Pilgrims should take a lot of confidence not only from their 3-2 npower League Two win at Morecambe and the three points they picked up, but also from their performance.
Argyle stuck to their principles of passing the ball, even when trailing by two goals. Their reward came with three goals inside the final 20 minutes – two of them penalties from Warren Feeney.
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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 the 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. 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, but he had to sit it out. Bhasera has been arguably 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.
There was much for manager Carl Fletcher to feel positive about, 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 team-mates. He and Hourihane, both aged 21, dictated the play in midfield with their passing.
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.
Morecambe opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Purse tried to let the ball run out of play, but was dispossessed by Jack Redshaw. The striker sped into the penalty area and, from a very acute angle, slotted the ball past goalkeeper Jake Cole.
Argyle were the better side for the rest of the first half, but could not get on level terms. They had two opportunities early in the second period, starting with a free-kick from Robbie Williams which was spectacularly pushed wide for a corner by Barry Roche.
From the resulting corner, Purse headed the ball on target, but Kevin Ellison cleared off his line.
The Shrimps were awarded a penalty from their next attack as Richard Brodie, who was on as a substitute for Redshaw, ended up in a heap when challenged by Durrell Berry, who made no contact.
Nevertheless, Brodie slotted home the spot-kick and Morecambe seemed destined for victory.
However, the Pilgrims 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 substitute Paris Cowan-Hall.
It was a superb finish from Jenkins, and Argyle were level in the 80th minute when a cross from Berry hit the hand of Morecambe's Izak Reid.
Feeney calmly tucked away the penalty, and the visitors' confidence that they could win the game proved correct as they took the lead in the 87th minute with another spot-kick conversion by the Northern Ireland international.
This time, Cowan-Hall was tripped by Andy Parrish, and Feeney did the rest. Six minutes of stoppage time were added on but there were no late scares for Plymouth as they confidently played out the rest of the match.