Plymouth Argyle beat higher level opposition in the FA Cup for the first time since 1999 as they dispatched Bolton Wanderers with a clinical 1-0 away performance. Callum McFadzean scored his fifth goal of the season, making him the team’s joint highest goalscorer.
Alex Palmer, GK – 7
A seventh clean sheet of the season for Palmer means that he has kept more than either Matt Macey or Kyle Letheren managed last year, though this was not his best performance of all time. However, that was mostly because he was rather untested all game.
Indeed, the he was more threatened when he had the ball in hand. Right at the end of the first half, he let Bolton in on goal after trying to buy a free kick by playing a ball off Murphy, who was too close, but the referee chose not to award the foul. He was a little bit questionable from crosses but generally solid otherwise.
Scott Wootton, CB – 9, player of the match
Best player on the pitch as his constant efforts to block Bolton’s route to goal paid dividends. Similar to his showing against Chelsea U21 in the EFL Trophy, he made numerous tackles and blocks, playing a vital part in a great defensive effort.
Not that the centre-back should merely be judged on his defending. Once again, he looked quite comfortable going forward, and nearly sealed the game with a goal of his own, but for his shot to narrowly miss the target.
Niall Canavan, CB – 8
A typically good and solid performance from the big centre-back. Canavan won everything that he had to in the air, against two physical strikers no less, and provided more impressive long passes out of defence.
His reading of the game was cool and composed as he barely let a thing past him all game. Another positive display from a man who has justifiably established himself as part of our best back three.
Gary Sawyer, CB – 7
Sawyer was beaten a few times in the first-half but improved as the game went on. He did seem to be targeted by Bolton who often targeted Argyle’s left-wing: they often played through him and that was the side they usually went down when they got in behind.
Having said that, Sawyer largely dealt with the danger well enough. Not as much of a stand-out performance as his defensive partners, but reliable once more.
Josh Grant, DM – 8
Continued where he left off after a short cameo in defensive midfield in the EFL Trophy eleven days ago. That performance was actually quite promising, so it wasn’t all too surprising when he put in a solid effort across 90 minutes today. He was out of his depth against Exeter, but reminded everyone that one game does not define a player.
His composure and ability to nick in and pick up loose balls was excellent today: his calm and measured distribution was also fine under pressure. The only question-mark over his performance was a potential penalty call against Grant following what would have been a harsh hand-ball.
Joe Edwards, RWB – 7
As far as I am concerned, right wing-back is not Edwards’ best position, and it showed again today. Yet, he was always offering himself going forward and causing problems. Defensively, his positioning was not always the best, but it was a good performance overall.
Antoni Sarcevic, CM – 7
This was in many ways a typical Sarcevic performance. His vision and creativity was good today, attempting a fair few ambitious passes. He didn’t quite pull all of them off, with his passing being a little mediocre, but he did everything else well.
His high levels energy combined with his disciplined work rate were crucial for seeing out the win.
Danny Mayor, CM – 7
Not always involved but incisive when he was. As per usual, he caused problems and finally picked up another (deserved) assist, his first since August, after seeing chance after chance wasted for months now. Had it not been for a very good Remi Matthews save, he also would have had his second goal of the season.
As always, his link-up play with McFadzean was very good, leading to the first goal and nearly another for Joel Grant. A welcome return to the team for him after being dropped as a result of suspension.
Callum McFadzean, LWB – 8
As a player with only four goals in his entire professional career before arriving in Plymouth – and his infamous record of being virtually the only player not to score for Bury last season – McFadzean now has five goals in green!
He clearly enjoys playing with his partner in crime, Mayor, and the two linked up for yet another goal this season. McFadzean caused problems when involved, and could have had two but hit a shot first time when it might have been better to take a touch.
Joel Grant, ST – 7
In a rich vein of form at the moment and almost had fifth goal in six, only for him to be denied very well by ex-Pilgrims stopper Remi Matthews. He also laid off a nice pass for Mayor to bend an effort towards the corner, only for Matthews to get a claw the ball away again.
Off the ball, he worked tirelessly to press the men in white, and offered an option almost all the time. Hardworking and effective, he’s fully established himself as a first-choice striker for the moment.
Byron Moore, ST – 8
Like Grant, Moore worked hard off the ball as you would expect. Both are physical players, capable of competing in their air despite their stature, but most importantly they’re quick across the pitch and that allows them to press and chase the opposition defence.
Moore should have scored in this one too, having cut out a back-pass to run clean through, only for Matthews to deny a 1-v-1, as he did many-a-time for Argyle during his 2018 loan spell. Otherwise, the main difference between these two strikers was that Moore made more intelligent runs and looked more dangerous.
Billy Clarke, ST – 7
A late substitute for Joel Grant to help the team continue to press from the front foot after Joel Grant started to look tired. His fresh legs were valuable in that regard, but he was also a composed presence on the ball when he received it.