Plymouth boss Ryan Lowe felt he made changes “at the right time” after making use of the new five substitutes rule before the second half of his side’s drubbing at Fleetwood had kicked off.
The Greens were 2-0 down to goals from Sam Finley and Callum Camps when Lowe made his first change in the 11th minute, bringing on Tyrese Fornah for Panutche Camara.
It was 3-0 when Will Aimson was replaced by Scott Wootton following Wes Burns’ effort in the 38th minute and three more players came on for the start of the second half – Niall Canavan, Luke Jephcott and Ryan Hardie – as Lowe fully utilised the rules brought in this week.
It mattered little as Charlie Mulgrew’s header and Camps’ second extended Fleetwood’s lead, with Jephcott scoring a consolation from the penalty spot before fellow sub Canavan was sent off for a second bookable offence at the death.
The Argyle boss said: “The first two goals at the start of the game, through our own mistakes and errors, have cost us dear early on.
“We were 2-0 down after seven minutes, there’s only one way the game’s going to go from there on.
“I made a couple of changes early doors and then we made a couple of changes at half-time, but they’re the changes you feel you’ve got to make at the right time.”
Lowe saw Plymouth’s six-game unbeaten run in all competitions emphatically ended, and added: “I’m feeling numb, I can’t really sum up now how I’m feeling.
“We were definitely beaten by the better team. We were nowhere near the standards we’ve set. We’ll have to have a look at that.
“There were a lot of poor individual performances, but as a team we win together, draw together and lose together.
“Today I thought we were way off par. It’s something we’re going to have to look at.
“But credit where credit is due, Fleetwood showed their true qualities and showed why they got to where they did last season. Ultimately we were beaten by the better team.”
Delighted Fleetwood boss Joey Barton saluted his five-star team as they claimed their biggest league win since August 2018.
“We could have won six or 7-0,” Barton said. “But I’m a little bit disappointed because I thought our dominance warranted an absolute shut-out.
“They’ve got a good side and they (Plymouth) no doubt had an off night, but they will bounce back.
“But their away form hasn’t been fantastic and we knew how good our home has been. We know how good a side we are and it’s difficult for anybody to come here.
“We knew if we started with the correct intensity it would be a difficult afternoon for Plymouth – and that’s how it turned out.
“I was really pleased we scored five goals and after 65-70 minutes I was pleased I could make substitutions with one eye on the Sunderland game on Friday night.
“It’s very rare you get to do that in this division because the teams are very closely matched.
“But to win at a canter was really pleasing. Now we can get a bit of rest and recuperation into the lads that started the game.
“We’ve got a strong squad and we’re looking forward to what this season brings.”
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