Plymouth Argyle slipped nearer to the League One relegation zone after a 2-0 loss to Doncaster. Argyle are now winless in five and goalless in two.

Starting XI

Matt Macey – 5

The club’s official Twitter account described Macey as having had a good game in a first half tweet. Whilst football is of course a game of opinions, I feel this one was a little generous to the Arsenal loanee. It’s true that he made some good saves – He tipped a low shot around the post that looked destined for the corner and made one very good reflex stop in the second half. However, he should have done better for Donny’s second goal, getting down far too late. Furthermore, his distribution was as poor to average as it often is, as was his general command of his area. Ryan Edwards was seen lamenting his communication on more than one occasion.

Oscar Threlkeld – 6

Argyle’s other loanee (though he’s too familiar to seem it) had a game which very much summed up his fourth spell at Home Park. Was he fantastic? Was he his very best? No, he was not. What he was also far from however, is the main reason why we lost the game. He didn’t let much beat him or get down his side but nor did he shine in getting down the line and assisting from an attacking perspective.

Ryan Edwards – 4

I’m far from a believer in the line that the defence has been the main problem this season, focusing more on the shortcomings of the midfield and the goalkeeping side of things.  But, whilst Edwards has generally been a solid and reliable force since Christmas this was far from the case at the Keepmoat. His passing was incredibly sloppy and he suffered many lapses in concentration where he let his man run away from him. Even headers, usually a specialist area for the number five, did not go his way as much as they should.

Niall Canavan – 5

The Irishman was the better of the two centre halves but it wasn’t the calm and composed performance that we’re used to seeing from him. He had one painstaking moment where James Coppinger slipped to the floor but he was able get back up and regain control of the ball before a startled Canavan (who was marking him touch tight) was truly able to respond to the situation. As isolated incident maybe, but it was rather symptomatic of the lackadaisical nature of his defending that gifted Doncaster a good few chances. In truth, they should have scored more than two throughout the game,

Gary Sawyer – 4

His shortcomings may have been a little overshadowed by the mistakes of others, but one of the more under-appreciated reasons behind Argyle’s poor season is that of the sad decline of Gary Sawyer. Whilst pace was never his forte, he often made up for it with his sharpness of mind and determination to get forward and to overlap in spite of his limitations. This season and in the game against Doncaster especially, he has declined to the point where it’s just not possible for him to keep up to the pace of League One football. He was dribbled past a good few times and didn’t stop many crosses.

Yann Songo’o – 3

His efforts and hearty spirit may be beloved by the Green Army but this game (like so many others) demonstrated why Songo’o is simply not good enough for League One level (at least as anything other than a reserve). His passing was as poor as it always is, highlighted especially by the occasion when he passed the ball gently ten yards to the feet of an opposition player when he was in acres of space. His defensive attributes (usually more passable) were also below par, often being dribbled past. Being booked so early in the game was perhaps stopping him from going into tackles with his usual thrust,

David Fox – 3

If Sawyer needs to be put out to pasture, Fox is sadly another one dangerously approaching that status. Like his counterpart Songo’o, Fox was not only bad at his usual areas of weakness but also in the areas where he usually excels. He was dribbled past time after time and never mind losing 50-50s, he was losing physical duels that were 70-30 in his favour. His passing was also bad, very rarely finding the intended player. Doncaster won the midfield battle and therefore won the game. He was better in the second half when we changed to a diamond but not enough to redeem his performance.

Graham Carey – 5

The conventional wisdom that Carey has had a poor season should not be subscribed too, but what is beyond question is that he isn’t the same player of his first three seasons. Far too often in this game, the problems that have been on display all season were there for everyone to see. He showed inarguable signs of promise when he got on the ball but he didn’t make himself an outlet and proactively chase his way into the game like he is capable of doing. His defensive work has also taken a nosedive, offering inadequate protection to full-backs at times.

Antoni Sarcevic – 6

If we hadn’t already been told that Sarcevic is carrying an injury, it would have become apparent from the way he’s been playing. He’s hardly playing terribly – unlike many players in this dysfunctional side, he’s keeping a good shape and making better decisions with the ball when he finds it as his feet. That’s something at least. However, he’s also clearly unfit (as he has been for much of his time here). He looks like he’s run a marathon at an early stage in the game and his pressing (a staple of last season’s success) is limited if not non existent.

Ruben Lameiras – 7

Not the perfect game from Argyle’s diminutive number eleven – he did fade as the match went on, but the best out of our creative midfielders and the one who looked most likely to create something. He was the only one willing to run at Doncaster’s defenders and a couple of good passes to Ladapo were wasted by the striker. Make no mistake, if Argyle stay up this season, he will be the main man to thank.

Freddie Ladapo – 6

It is painstaking how much Ladapo is clearly trying to play the target man role that Argyle need to bring the best out of Carey and Lameiras, but he just isn’t set up for doing so. His energy and efforts in the game are beyond question and he had some moments of technical excellence too, with one or two decent passes. Yet, the amount of times he jumped too early for headers, got outmuscled by a centre-back and had the ball bounce off his feet like a pinball are too many to count.

Substitutes

Ryan Taylor – 7 (Man of the Match)

To the surprise of few, Argyle were a lot better when Ryan Taylor was bought onto the pitch. It is a refreshing tonic to finally see (albeit in brief glimpses) a player who is capable of winning headers, chest downs, holding up the ball and actually distributing it to another player effectively. He may not score a great many goals himself but the team create many more effective chances when he is playing. He NEEDS to start on Good Friday.

Lloyd Jones – N/A

Subbed on for Canavan with the latter seemingly carrying a knock, Jones (once again) didn’t have much time to settle into the game.

Author: Sam Down

Sam is the lead editor for Argyle Life’s opinion articles as well as writing match and analysis pieces. He also features on our weekly Green & White podcast.