'I'm really pleased the lads took everything on board and showed quality'
Manager Carl Fletcher believes he has found the solution to improving Plymouth Argyle's form at Home Park – by letting the opposition have possession of the ball.
The Pilgrims picked up only their second npower League Two home win in seven attempts this season when they beat Rochdale 3-1 on Saturday.
Two penalties from Guy Madjo and a headed goal from Andres Gurrieri secured maximum points. Fletcher had thought long and hard about Argyle's tactics at Home Park, after they lost 2-1 to AFC Wimbledon two weeks earlier.
He came to the conclusion the Pilgrims were too enthusiastic for their own good and were exposed defensively by trying to win the ball back as soon as possible. The Pilgrims' boss asked his players to try a different approach against Rochdale and it paid off.
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Fletcher said: "Rochdale are a good side. They were in sixth position in the table and had won four out of their last five away from home.
"We knew it was going to be a tough test and the players stuck to the game-plan of what we needed to do.
"We changed a few things. We are too enthusiastic with our closing down at times and have been leaving big gaps, but I thought we were better.
"We condensed the pitch a little bit. It was a case of telling the lads that it was all right for a team to come here and have possession.
"Sometimes when you are at home you want to try to win the ball back all the time and that's probably not the right thing to do.
"I'm really pleased the lads took everything on board and showed the quality they've got, and the desire and hunger to get the three points."
Madjo scored from the penalty spot in the fourth minute as Argyle made a storming start, with Gurrieri causing all sorts of trouble for the visitors' defence. It was the Argentinian who increased the Pilgrims' lead in the seventh minute when he headed home a cross from Alex MacDonald.
It remained 2-0 until the interval despite Argyle creating several other opportunities, with Gurrieri usually involved in the play.
Fletcher said: "Andres is a good footballer and he works hard for the team. He's infectious with his energy. I just felt in the first half, at times, when the ball broke to us we were maybe too hurried and gave it away a little bit cheaply."
Rochdale improved after the break and Argyle goalkeeper Jake Cole saved a 55th-minute penalty from Bobby Grant, before the visitors reduces the arrears in the 76th minute with a Dele Adebola header.
Deep into stoppage time, the Pilgrims grabbed their third goal when Madjo blasted another penalty high into the net. Fletcher said: "Apart from the referee giving them a penalty and the goal, Rochdale didn't have too many chances.
"I was pleased with the way we conducted ourselves after they scored, as well."
Argyle were without forward Rhys Griffiths due to a groin injury, so Madjo led their attack with Gurrieri behind him in a 4-4-1-1 formation. Also absent from the squad was midfielder Onismor Bhasera. Fletcher said: "He picked up a little knock while on international duty [with Zimbabwe]. We will assess it in the next couple of days."