Lessons from Yeovil 2 – Argyle 1
1) Argyle have proven that it’s harder without Ben Purrington.
Last season, a player who I had a slightly less positive view about than average was Gary Sawyer. Whilst most people saw him as invariably putting in a 7 out of 10 performance each week, I saw something different. Sure, there were some spells of the season where he was just that. He was one of the few not to embarrass himself at Wembley for example. But in far too many games, his lack of ability to get forward cost us and he was caught defensively for trickery and pace. It would be interesting therefore to see how we’d cope without Purrington whose departure some fans feel may damage our hopes of promotion. Unfortunately, Argyle did not pass their first post-Purrington test. Sawyer’s crossing when he got forward was of an acceptable standard, but the facts remain that he simply did not get forward and make an outlet of himself to anything like the extent that we’re used to from Purrington. So often, Purrington’s run took a defender with him which gave us more space in our attacking third. This is without to mention Sawyer’s poor defensive performance in the second half. His pre-positioning was good but too often when anybody with a bit of pace ran at him they managed to get through. Admittedly the slippery surface wasn’t the ideal game for a player like him to have his first game back. Let’s hope he’s better in future matches. Which leads onto…
2) We can’t play in the rain.
I don’t know what it is. It’s something that seems to transcend almost every Argyle manager and style of play. Whether we go for the more direct approach of the Sheridan era or a possession based approach of Carl Fletcher, we never look ultimately convincing playing in the rain. I don’t have any data to back this up, admittedly. Someone could come along with statistics that prove this whole thing to be a huge case of confirmation bias, but it’s something I remember first noticing in the Holloway era and have seen little to change my mind since. I think it mainly relates to the fact that whilst we often have one or two what could be termed ‘big bastards’ in the team at any one time, we’ve never had a whole team of them. Perhaps then that’s why we proportionately have fared slightly worse in the rain during my time as a supporter. There are bonuses though…at least it means we don’t have to sit through the rubbish that Stevenage and Wycombe fans do.
3) Adams is good but he’s not flawless.
I’m a big fan of Derek but there’s no point dressing it up. He got the team selection badly wrong against Yeovil. Why for a game that was inevitably going to be a physical scrap against a long ball side, did he start Craig Tanner and Ryan Donaldson. Donaldson is certainly a runner and he can pass the ball (as can Tanner) but neither of them have strength in physical battles and nor are they especially good in the air. Perhaps Adams’ aim was to ensure Argyle play our own game rather than get bogged into Yeovil’s game. Whilst this is a laudable aim (too often Argyle have done just that against brutish opposition), Adams did not need to chuck the baby out with the bathwater. Players like Jordan Slew and particularly Jake Jervis can play our attacking game as usual but are capable too of scrapping against full-backs in a way that Tanner and Donaldson aren’t quite. Also, Jakub Sokolik had a poor game and did not look nearly ready. Poor decisions by Adams went a long way to costing us the match.
4) Nathan Blissett runs like he’s on stilts…and is generally pretty uncoordinated in general.
Another change that was detrimental to Argyle cannot be blamed on Adams because it was unforced. That being the necessity of starting Nathan Blissett as a lone striker in the absence of Garita and new signing Ryan Taylor. I noticed against Cheltenham how, whilst Blissett has pace and the ability to be a pest against defenders with his movement, the ball immediately stopped sticking up top once he was left as the main striker. He’s tall but he’s stringy and he isn’t strong. One thing he can’t do well enough is hold the ball up. On a pitch where water skidded the ball about in all directions, it was resultantly even harder than it already was to hold it up. He’s also not the most coordinated of players. Like Marvin Morgan, often his brain doesn’t appear to work as fast as his arms and legs.
5) Antoni Sarcevic is not yet match fit…, which is a blow to our promotion hopes.
Sarcevic is a player who excited fans more than most when he first joined last month. He was reportedly excellent in Fleetwood’s promotion seasons and compilations of him involved with an array of goals showed promise. However, the jinking player of the Fleetwood highlights reel was nowhere to be seen at Huish Park this week. He did the simple things well enough- moved the ball about and didn’t panic. This however was our first chance at seeing him in ‘battle conditions’ and frankly, he did not look as ready as he might have been.