A disappointing result to open April for the Pilgrims against Charlton; a game where Plymouth Argyle had plenty of opportunities to get a result but ultimately fell short once again, an all too familiar scene this season.
Opportunities Going Amiss
Argyle started the game brightly, causing trouble amongst the Charlton backline resulting in a number of early bookings, three before the penalty incident 35 minutes in. Up until this point, the front three, most prominently Ruben Lameiras, had been running the visitors’ defence ragged, drawing foul after foul with the Portuguese playmaker ultimately winning the penalty. Graham Carey failed to convert the penalty, which just added to the already high number of missed chances Argyle had failed to capitalise on. With the numerous free-kicks, corners and shots the Pilgrims had within the first 35 minutes, very few troubled Dillon Phillips in the Charlton goal. Failure to convert not a single chance with all the pressure Argyle had up until this point ultimately cost the game. This isn’t the first time we have lost points through our inability to finish quality chances, and is again the main take-away from the loss.
I said it in the stands at the time, and I was unfortunately proved right. The moment the penalty didn’t hit the back of the net, the game would change completely, and Argyle would break down. This is nothing new to Argyle fans, as countless times we have seen a team fail to capitalise on early pressure and then following a large incident, the heads go. Some excellent passing play from the home side, instigated by the two stand out players on Saturday, Jamie Ness and Ruben Lameiras, was a distant memory at the conclusion of the game. It’s easy to forget after such a demoralising loss that there was some very positive play early on, however following a goal from renowned wind-up merchant and Argyle ‘fan-favourite’ Lyle Taylor, the players and fans seemed to lose their cool and the rest of the game felt very negative both in atmosphere and play. I would like to add, though the history with Lyle Taylor is prickly to say at best, it is never an excuse for racism and discrimination, which has been been finding its way round Argyle twitter in the aftermath of the loss. There is no place for that behaviour in football.
At the other end of the pitch, things following the bright first 35 minutes were also rather poor. Both goals could and should have been prevented and the lacklustre performance from the two centre-halves was summarised by Adams’ decision to bring off Niall Canavan in the 71st minute. Both goals were a gift to the away side; the first a result of some poor positioning, the second a horrendous mix-up leading to a seemingly unassailable lead. Lyle Taylor was gifted with a free header just outside the six yard box; Ryan Edwards felt forced into coming across to cover Canavan’s man, who he’d lost as the ball sailed across to the then unmarked Taylor. The ex-Wimbledon man made no mistake and left Matt Macey helpless. The second, which came from some well-worked play down the left flank by ex-Palace forward Jonny Williams, sailed past Edwards who flailed a half-hearted leg at the ball, and bounced off a pre-occupied Canavan past Macey, who arguably could have done better. Defensive displays like this are a big factor in Argyle’s poor perforance this season and with nearly our strongest back-four on the pitch, it is rather worrying that we are still struggling to keep opposition teams out.