JAKE COLE was ‘buzzing’ after keeping a clean sheet on his return to action for Plymouth Argyle in the 2-0 win away to Northampton Town on Saturday.
Cole had to contend with difficult conditions as a strong wind blew from one end of the pitch at Sixfields Stadium to the other.
The Pilgrims used the elements to open up a two-goal lead by half-time, and then defended solidly as Northampton tried to respond after the break.
The wind was so powerful it repeatedly blew the ball backwards when Cole tried to take goal kicks.
However, he dealt well with the difficult conditions, and made one stunning save at a crucial stage of the game.
Cole, though, was keen to pay tribute to his team-mates for their defensive resilience as Argyle claimed their first-ever win at Sixfields.
The 28-year-old was back between the posts because of the season-ending finger injury to Luke McCormick.
It was only his second start in League Two this season, although he had played in all eight of the Pilgrims’ games in cup competitions.
Cole told Herald Sport: “The conditions were horrendous with the wind but the boys showed character in the second half.
“We are all pleased with getting a clean sheet and the three points away from home.”
Cole’s Northampton counterpart Matt Duke struggled throughout the first half as Argyle used the strong wind to pile on the pressure.
Striker Reuben Reid gave them the lead as early as the fifth minute with a low shot which crept under Duke.
The Northampton keeper was clearly uncomfortable in the conditions, spilling another shot from Jason Banton.
He struggled to get any distance at all with his goal kicks, or even keep the ball in play, because of the wind.
Argyle went 2-0 up in the 39th minute when a cross from Lewis Alessandra curled into the far corner of the net, with Duke rooted to the spot.
All the while, Cole was watching on from the other end of the pitch, knowing he would have the same problems to cope with after half-time.
He said: “It’s hard when you have got the wind that much in your face but you have got to deal with it the best you can.
“It was difficult with balls coming in the box, but we defended great and got the clean sheet.
“We did say before the game it would be important to get a clean sheet, and going 2-0 up was probably the most important thing for the second half.
“We knew we had to stay tight at the back and not concede. We are really pleased.
Cole continued: “We would still have been happy to go in 1-0 up at half-time, but I think that second goal just calmed the lads.
“We knew they (Northampton) were going to have the wind behind them and put pressure on, but we dealt with what they threw at us.”
Cole maintained Argyle’s 2-0 advantage with a magnificent save in the 75th minute.
Northampton’s Chris Hackett saw his in-swinging corner caught by the wind and the ball seemed destined to end up in the net.
However, Cole reacted instinctively and somehow pushed it away one-handed.
He said: “The guy has whipped it in and got a bit of pace on it. I have ended up stepping out and I have got a hand on it.
“I was buzzing to keep it out, to be fair. I managed to get a really strong hand on it.”
Cole is determined to make the most of the opportunity that has arisen for him with the injury to McCormick.
McCormick had been very consistent for Argyle between the posts this season.
But the 30-year-old dislocated and fractured the ring finger on his left hand in the 1-1 draw with Mansfield Town at Home Park on February 1.
Cole said: “It’s an opportunity for me to play some games, which I’m pleased about.
“Luke has done excellent this season. We are good pals and get on really well, and it’s tough for him.
“But I’m going to try to take the chance and, hopefully, it goes well from now until the end of the season.”
He added: “It’s nothing new for me. You get out there and give it your best. Whenever you get the chance you have got to perform well.”