SMILES returned to the faces of Plymouth Argyle fans last Saturday as a new-look team brushed aside Northampton Town with a comfortable 4-1 victory.
With no fixture this weekend, the Pilgrims will now have to wait until their away trip to fellow strugglers Bradford City on December 10.
The build-up to last Saturday's clash against the Cobblers at Home Park was filled with optimism as a whole host of new signings had made their way to south Devon.
Player-manager Carl Fletcher made six changes from the side which was comprehensively beaten in their previous fixture by non-league Stourbridge in the FA Cup.
Out went Fletcher himself, Luke Daley, Curtis Nelson, Ben Gibson, Warren Feeney and the suspended Paul Bignot, and in came debutants Ashley Hemmings, Maxime Blanchard and Darren Purse. Striker Craig Sutherland returned alongside Nick Chadwick in his second spell with the Pilgrims and Durrell Berry also came back into the side.
From the first whistle, Argyle bombarded Northampton and left winger Hemmings, on loan from Wolves, provided some deadly balls into the box.
The first effort on goal came from Bhasera's ball into Chadwick's feet; the striker turned sharply and his resulting effort rattled off the crossbar.
Argyle's intent had been signalled and another testing ball into the box from Hemmings on the left looked destined for Chadwick's head but was handled by Cobblers defender John Johnson. Argyle were awarded their fourth penalty of the season and skipper Simon Walton duly converted it to give Argyle a deserved lead on eight minutes. Just a minute later the Greens had doubled their lead after more quality service from the left, this time from Hourihane, whose lofted cross was headed in at the near post by Chadwick.
The striker was delighted to get on the scoresheet in his first game back for the Pilgrims since his first spell at the club ended in 2008.
Argyle were by far the superior side and scored again on 17 minutes through a good strike from Will Atkinson. The winger, on a season-long loan from Hull City, picked up the ball on the right hand side and weaved his way past a couple of defenders before curling a lovely effort into the far corner via a minor deflection.
The Home Park faithful were both stunned and overjoyed at the fast start their team had made. The Pilgrims' total domination was rewarded with a fourth goal by star performer Hemmings. Good work from Chadwick, who was providing plenty of problems for the Cobblers' defence, gave the target man time to bear down on goal before cutting the ball back to Hemmings, whose controlled, left-foot strike found the top corner.
At half-time the home fans were treated to a healthy scoreline of Plymouth Argyle 4, Northampton Town 0. In the second half, Hemmings continued to torment Northampton right-back Jason Crowe and created aerial opportunities for Chadwick and Purse.
The clean sheet was broken three minutes into injury time, though, when Akinfenwa's header beat Cole at his far post.
The late goal did not dampen the spirits and the Green Army were on their feet at the final whistle to congratulate their team's best performance of a difficult season.
Away from the pitch, Pilgrims' fans young and old were saddened to hear of the death of Plymouth Argyle legend Johnny Williams aged 76 last week. Williams made 448 appearances and scored 55 goals for Argyle between 1955 and 1966.
The footballing world was also rocked by the news that Wales' manager Gary Speed has died aged 42.
The former Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United player was found dead at his home on Sunday morning. Discussions are ongoing on the Plymouth Argyle board to consider holding a minute's silence or applause at the next home match against Hereford United on December 17 to remember these two great men.