The manner in which Plymouth Argyle conceded their last minute equaliser against Rotherham was all too typical of the season the South West club have had so far this campaign. Despite the doom and gloom following Saturday’s result there is still a lot to be positive about as the festive season of fixtures approaches.
Whilst it was very much a case of one point gained but more notably two dropped, it is important to look at the bigger picture in which the Pilgrims have suffered just two defeats from their last ten League One games as well as 16 points from those matches. Based upon that tally, Derek Adams’ side have performed the seventh best over that period and better than the likes of Shrewsbury and Bradford who currently occupy places in the top four. Northampton aside, the performances have been far from convincing but it takes more than luck to have picked up four victories in that time and with games coming up against fellow strugglers Doncaster, MK Dons and Bury as well as out of form Blackpool in over the course of their next six games, there is no reason to suggest why they can’t have climbed out of the relegation zone over the coming weeks.
Derek Adams came under fire once more for his substitutions on Saturday as he often has done in recent weeks. Many of the Green Army lamented his like-for-like substitution of goalscorer Ryan Taylor for youngster Alex Fletcher in the 90th minute instead of a more defensive option such as Yann Songo’o with Argyle trying to maintain their 1-0 lead late into the game. Whilst you can understand the frustration from fans it would be difficult to argue that Songo’o would’ve or could’ve been the difference in the result had he been on the field for those short couple of minutes. The Rotherham goal, much like Gillingham’s a week previously came as a result of a lapse of concentration following an opposition set piece. A quickly taken free-kick over the top allowed Tom Eaves to smash his effort in last weekend whilst a corner, followed by numerous failed attempts to clear ball resulted in Semi Ajeyi’s equaliser on Saturday.
Whilst I have often been critical of Adams’ tactics and substitutions in previous pieces, it is important to note that he simply can’t be to blame for what should have been too easily avoidable goals. At some point the blame needs to rest on the shoulders of his players rather than taking the easy option and blaming the manager. Previous examples of Shrewsbury and Rochdale, where Argyle sat back for long periods of the game trying to defend a 1-0 lead are certainly the fault of the manager in his tactics, but, these two previous games certainly don’t fit into that category.
Whilst the goalkeeping crisis shows no signs of letting up with Argyle on their seventh goalkeeper of the season in Derby County’s Kelle Roos, the suspension issues have subsided. Whilst the club have picked up more red cards this season (six) than wins in the league (five), it is important to note that the recent upturn in form has coincided with just one red card in the previous 15 games in all competitions. Ryan Edwards on that occasion received his marching orders in the 14th minute as Oxford romped to a 4-0 victory at Home Park back in November. The upcoming set of fixtures are very much favourable with a mixture of similarly placed or struggling teams to come up against. Should the side continue their recent form, the table should be looking much more favourable by the end of January where Adams will be able to make additions to the squad.