Finally – FINALLY – for the first time this season, Argyle have won away from home. A first away win since lifting the title at Port Vale. The first Saturday 3PM away win since the 4-1 demolition of MK Dons. The first Championship away win since… let me check… Doncaster in 2010!

And it was deserved. Not because Argyle were the better side on the day. No, if any side deserved to win that based on overall play, it was Swansea. They consistently created the better chances and dominated possession, especially in first half, yet put on an atrocious display of finishing.

No, Argyle deserved that win because it’s about time the big moments went exclusively our way on our travels. At Hull, Azaz saw the ball strike the inside of the post, roll along the goalline, and stay out, before a routine defensive error gifted away an equaliser. At Ipswich… well, we all know about that shocking decision, the awful goals conceded, and Argyle’s missed chances. At Birmingham, when only one side looked capable of taking all three points until Stansfield struck. Butcher at Cardiff. Probably a foul on Gyabi at Huddersfield. Coventry scoring after the ball probably went out of play. A blind assistant at Southampton. Hardie’s spurned 1:1 at QPR followed by an idiotic red. Ah, memories.

There’s been a narrative that Argyle can’t win on their travels. To be fair, they hadn’t in ages. But it wasn’t as though one win wasn’t deserved. In fact, Argyle more than deserved one. With a bit of fortune, as Argyle received aplenty at Swansea, we’d have already put away two or three sides on the road. Regardless, that narrative is now dead and buried. Argyle have that precious, confidence-boosting, first away win of the season. It came from the first goal scored from a corner (no, Azaz v Watford doesn’t count) since Gillesphey headed the second against Rovers last April.

Sure, it wasn’t a conventional means of scoring a corner, but my word was it well worked. A perfect cross by Forshaw, weighted and directed perfectly. Precise timing by Whittaker to move away from his man and Gibson to block his marker from tracking him. And a superb finish, beautifully cushioned into the bottom corner. Add another million to the price tag.

The win lifts Argyle closer and closer to safety. To my mind, 42 points is all that’s required to stay up. If I had to put a bet down now, that’s what I’d go for, and Argyle are just six points from that total. By the end of the month, we should hopefully be there.

It comes after the end of a transfer window that was fine but underwhelming. We’re now notably weaker in attack, both in terms of quality – my god I miss Azaz, I’m lulling myself into the belief that if he flops at Boro we get a cut-price deal in the summer – and depth. However, Gyabi is undoubtedly an upgrade on Warrington, likewise Forshaw for Butcher and Phillips for GIllesphey. Now we just need to hope for minimal injuries over the rest of the season, else we may see some unusual lineups between now and then, a la 2021.

But, as we all know, the key bit of business was retaining the Championship’s top scorer. And we did. No matter how many stupid rumours there were. No matter how many times Sam messaged me in tears that the future Mrs Morgan Whittaker had deleted her social media account. No matter how many sides facing Bayern Munich in the Champions League came calling. Well done Argyle for holding your nerve, it was the right decision. And also an easy one.

Unsurprisingly, Captain Morgan was once again the difference and showed exactly what Swansea were missing. He had two chances: one a snapshot that nearly dipped in under the bar, drawing an excellent save; the other guided into the corner. On the day, he was the only player to show any composure when presented with a chance. Everyone else either missed the target or hit it right at the keeper.

Just take Swansea’s best chance. Hazard spread himself superbly when facing down Jerry Yates, but he needn’t have. Yates had an awful lot of goal to aim for… and put it right at Hazard at a generous height. Likewise, at the end Patino drove the ball right into Hazard’s shin. Those two steps forward from Hazard cut the angle, but it was once again a bad finish. Give those chances to Whittaker and he’ll show the composure to bury at least one in the corner and give the keeper no chance.

Then there was the litany of shots that went high or wide, often under little pressure. Six Nations aside, you can see why the home end was nearly half empty. It must be very frustrating watching a side play some beautiful football only to miss chance after chance, then concede from a rare counterattack. Argyle were also guilty of this. Sure, there wasn’t much of an attacking effort, but when they came forward they carved out good openings on three occasions, but never tested the Swansea keeper.

Still, this was one of Hazard’s best games for Argyle and gave further signs that he’s becoming the keeper who will inherit the gloves full-time from Cooper when he leaves, but it’s still clear who’s number one for now. His distribution was still way below the quality Cooper provides, and though he’s notably more confident at coming off his line for crosses, he still has a long way to go.
He might have also given away a penalty after colliding with Yates when coming to punch a through-ball away, but the referee was saved from having to make a decision by the offside flag.

The collision wasn’t too different to the penalty West Ham conceded at Sheffield, though given Hazard got so much of the ball you’d have expected he’d have got away with it. Then again, given some of the decisions that have gone against Argyle this season… Thankfully, aided by awful finishing and some excellent last-ditch defending – Mumba’s last-ditch tackle and a number of Galloway slides to prevent a chance being created deserve particular attention – Argyle recorded their first clean sheet with a back-three this season at the twelfth attempt, and their first in any competition since the 0-0 draw at QPR.

All that gives Argyle a solid platform the build on and some additional confidence for what is a busy but potentially fruitful February. With one already down, five league games remain in the month. Yes, they’re tough, but pick off one or two of those sides and the easier home stretch of the season will then be upon us. Before then there’s the matter of the FA Cup. Adam Randell’s equaliser at Elland Road has already netted Argyle an additional c.£200k, but a win against Leeds in front of the TV cameras on Tuesday bring in upwards of £1m to go into what’s looking like a very healthy summer transfer budget.

The one player I wish could play that game? Adam Forshaw. He was so good against Swansea. The only one who looked like he could read the game as Swansea dominated the first half. The leader of the pack in the second as Foster pushed his team to be brave and go at their opponents. He looks a shrewd signing; the best bit of business done in January. The comparison to Lillian Nalis has already been made and it may well prove to be apt. Only time will tell on that front, but he’s the sort of experience that Argyle need if they’re going to kick on in this league. Which, right now, we look like doing.