Plymouth Argyle are in the hat for tomorrow’s FA Cup third round draw following a dramatic tie against Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium. Antoni Sarcevic’s late penalty miss – after his earlier equaliser from the spot – will see Rovers return to Home Park for the second time this season (the third if you include the pre-season friendly match) later this month.
On the whole, it was a good performance from Argyle who were marginally the better side over the game. In truth, a draw was a fair result and both keepers were tested heavily. The draw for the third round will be awaited eagerly by both sets of fans.
Alex Palmer, GK – 9, player of the match
Palmer was tested a few times in the closing stages of the game, when both sides had the chance to win the tie, most notably as he made a fantastic save to deny Rovers at the death while the score was still 1-1. Throughout, his cross collection was assured and his distribution – an area that have been worse in recent weeks – was back up to its top level.
Scott Wootton, CB – 7
Another largely solid game from the centre-back who has reinvented himself as one of Argyle’s most consistent players over the last couple of months. His heading was good once more and only a few panicky decisions with the ball at his feet cost him a higher rating.
Niall Canavan, CB – 8
There were a couple of occasions where Canavan showed a hint of losing his man in a game that was an enthralling end-to-end battle for much of it.
By and large though, he dealt with the tests well. His dominance in the air was as strong as it always is and he started counter attacks well with his assured passing out of defence.
Gary Sawyer, CB – 7
Another consistent performance from Sawyer, who has continued to astound many supporters who wrote him off after an admittedly dire showing last season (that includes me, the idiot!).
He was solid and kept his shape well against some troublesome attacks. Overall, an impressive performance against his old club. One weak area is that he didn’t show to overlap and support his wing back in the same way that he often does (and as Wootton did on the other wing).
Josh Grant, DM – 7
Another impressive display, indicating his long term future clearly lies at defensive midfield. He showed his previous knack of tackling hard when required but often swooping in with grace to recover a loose ball and prevent a tackle from being necessary.
He seemed to push a good 10/15 yards higher up the pitch today in some of the attacking phases of the game as well, aided in part by a very defensive Rovers line-up, adding a new element to his game. The only downside to his performance today is that one or two tackles strayed too far into the reckless category, earning a yellow card.
Joe Edwards, RWB – 5
Edwards has put in some very impressive displays at wing-back recently but today wasn’t really one. He didn’t really show often enough for the overlap and more attacks seemed to go down his side defensively. He should keep his place in the side but he was the weakest link today.
Antoni Sarcevic, CM – 7
Another hustling and bustling performance from the midfielder. Some of his ball use wasn’t great but he covered a great deal of ground and was best when he was able to drop his shoulder and drive forward with the ball.
He deserves bonus points for a successful first penalty but loses them a few minutes later. His second penalty was dreadful: soft, central, an a good height for the ‘keeper to save it. He’s lucky to not drop a point for that miss, though Argyle may well pay if a lucrative third round clash is the price to pay.
Danny Mayor, CM – 8
Yet again with Mayor you still feel there’s a bit more to come. There were a couple of occasions where he held onto the ball for a fraction too long and you just didn’t sense he quite believed in himself to drive forward, though maybe this is due to the more direct style that Lowe has shifted to recently.
On occasions where he did, though, he looked nothing short of dynamite. He won the penalty for our equalising goal, adding to the long list of goals that he has been at least tangentially involved in.
If he just stats to do this a little bit more, the territorial style could still prove fertile ground for him in spite of the deviation from the style that saw him thrive last season. A very good performance from our best attacking threat on the day, it’s just a shame there have been fewer of those for a while now.
Callum McFadzean, LWB – 7
He had to unfortunately go off after carrying an injury but whilst he was on the pitch, he once again offered the perfect outlet for one-twos with Mayor down the left wing.
He held the ball up when needed and drove at defenders, though he could probably have done with more support from Gary Sawyer. Another pleasing aspect of what was generally a pretty good performance.
Byron Moore, ST – 7
Byron Moore continues to do everything you’d want from a striker in Ryan Lowe’s formation except score consistently.
In every other regard, he’s got it all. He’s strong, agile and battles well to win the ball. He knows when to drop out wide to help the wing backs and he knows when to make killer runs through the middle. He demonstrated that perfectly today getting in a great position to score the winner, only to be felled and win a penalty that Sarcevic wasted.
Joel Grant, ST – 5
It’s a funny thing, but Grant’s great run of goal-scoring in October may have slightly distracted from the fact that his general play wasn’t really the greatest. Whilst we’ve seen a lot worse in the role this season alone, Joel Grant once again put in a quiet performance.
He was often beaten for aerial and ground duels and didn’t do a lot with the ball when he did have it. I’d bring Telford in next week.
Conor Grant, LWB – 6
He had some teething problems in adapting to the wing back role, after having not played out wide for the Greens in over a year. That said, he did adapt as the game went on and began to develop good chemistry with Mayor off the ball. If McFadzean isn’t fit for the next game against Cambridge, he’s probably prime candidate to start, though that is harsh on George Cooper.
Dominic Telford, ST – 7
A typical energetic performance from the striker who, as he did against Bradford, made a hugely positive impact in Argyle’s favour when he came onto the pitch.
It’s seriously impressive how well he holds the ball up and links others into play for such a short player, not to mention his excellent forward pass to set Moore one vs one for the second penalty. A victim of Lowe’s hesitation to change a winning team, even if a tweak here or there could improve things further; he should start at Cambridge.