Plymouth boss Ryan Lowe was left frustrated by the Crown Oil Arena playing surface as his side were held to a goalless draw at Rochdale.
The visitors almost broke through in the opening minutes via Panutche Camara’s header, but the longer the game wore on, Rochdale’s defensive resolve stiffened and they became increasingly difficult to break down.
And Lowe felt the pitch helped the home side’s cause in slowing his men down.
“I thought we dominated more or less all the game, we had the better chances and if we’d scored early on I think we’d have won the game comfortably,” Lowe said.
“They sat in, two banks of four, hard to beat and hard to break down, but I thought we broke them down quite well in the first half and had chances.
“In the second half there was only one team looking to win it and that was us.
“The pitch here looks the part but it’s not very good. It stopped us moving the ball faster, we were having to take an extra touch.
“Overall our performance was good, the way we moved the ball from side to side, got in between the lines and created chances – we just didn’t move the ball fast enough, but that wasn’t for the lack of trying, it was because of the pitch.
“It bobbled up everywhere and wasn’t good to play on, we had to take more touches and that allowed them to get men behind the ball and keep going side to side.”
Camara’s early header was brilliantly pushed away by goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, on loan from Manchester City, and the stopper also denied Danny Mayor, Byron Moore and Luke Jephcott.
Dale saw plenty of the ball in the first half but created little, with Stephen Humphrys spurning their best opening.
The home side improved after the break and Aaron Morley saw a 30-yard piledriver pushed over the crossbar by Michael Cooper, who also saved Jimmy Keohane’s deflected shot in time added on.
The draw ended a run of three successive defeats for Rochdale, whose manager Brian Barry-Murphy was disappointed they did not test the visitors’ defence more.
“I was pleased with certain aspects of the performance, though I felt our attacking display was a little bit disappointing,” he said.
“I suppose because of the result everyone will be happy with our defensive display but the lads have been trying to defend well over a period of time, it just hasn’t been reflected on the scoreboard.
“I just thought we had opportunities to really expose Plymouth’s backline, especially in the second half, and we didn’t take that opportunity.
“That was the only frustration, but in terms of effort and application the players have been amazing over a long period of time – we almost take that for granted, but we shouldn’t.”