Football: Shilton making progress with the Pilgrims: Plymouth apply promotion pressure

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The Independent Online
Plymouth Argyle. . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Burnley. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

THOSE enormous hands that were the scourge of international forwards for a generation reached out to accept his prize, one more trophy he must find room for in a display cabinet already straining under the weight of towering achievement for both club and country.

Peter Shilton has felt the congratulatory handshake a few times. His first manager of the month award since swapping goalkeeper gloves for the clenched fist and taut nerves of the dug-out brought him yet another bauble when he was hoping to taste the bubbles of celebratory champagne. No matter, Shilton's Argyle were about to provide ample compensation in the form of three Second Division promotion points.

The Pilgrims are on the march again and Shilton can afford to look beyond his West Country seclusion to the wider world outside. Another valuable victory to extend their unbeaten run to 12 games keeps Plymouth ahead of the chasers playing second fiddle to Reading's imitation of Manchester United's superiority.

Little of the charisma that enriched the managers he served (Clough, McMenemy) has rubbed off and the Argyle supporters do not rush to discover what he has been telling his local newspapers. But Shilton has his team displaying a tasty brew of attacking football that deserved a more comfortable conclusion to their day's work than the one that transpired at Home Park.

After a first season relegation - in truth he came too late to arrest the slide - and last season's struggle when we began to wonder if he was up to the task, he has produced a side that can prolong his alternative profession even though with only five league games short of the 1,000 appearance mark he has not completely abandoned his playing career.

In Dwight Marshall and Kevin Nugent Plymouth have two hungry strikers able to feed on every mistake and one each came their way here in little more than a minute just past the half hour when Marlon Beresford's enthusiasm to leave his line proved fatal for Burnley's hopes in this six-pointer.

Buttressed with a two-goal advantage Plymouth began to enjoy themselves or at least they could until the purpose in Burnley's comeback had the majority in a 10,595 crowd baying for the final whistle.

They exhibited a smooth confidence, Steve McCall moving the ball accurately across the ground and ably assisted in midfield by the pace and strength of Wayne Burnett and Paul Dalton while on any other afternoon Steve Castle's ambition could have brought him a hat-trick.

The Burnley manager, Jimmy Mullen, was left with a sore head, complaining at the defensive errors and with the 'wisdom of the officials' which ruled out the 'goals' for offside.

Meanwhile Shilton was off into the night promising himself the champagne he missed out on earlier. He gives little away but said he was delighted with the effort and willingness of his team to work for one another. 'Because of that we have come out on top against one of our leading rivals,' he said.

Goals: Marshall (31) 1-0; Nugent (33) 2-0; Heath (66) 2-1; Nugent (67) 3-1; Philliskirk (82) 3-2.

Plymouth Argyle (4-4-2): Nicholls; Edworthy, Hill, Comyn, Naylor; Burnett, Castle, McCall, Dalton; Marshall, Nugent. Substitutes not used: Barlow, Skinner, Newland (gk).

Burnley (4-4-2): Beresford; Monington, Davis, Pender, Thompson; Russell (Francis, 53), Deary, Joyce (Farrell, 66), Eyres; Heath, Philliskirk. Substitute not used: Williams (gk).

Referee: C Wilkes (Gloucester).