What a mess. As I sat down to write these ratings, my overriding feeling was to smash my fist into the keyboard but having taken a moment to calm, I’ll try to write a more reflective analysis of the game. It’s not like the League Cup really matters (although it would have been nice to play Spurs) but to lose a game in such a slipshod fashion is pretty inexcusable. We had total control over it from minutes 10 through to about 55 but as soon as the hosts pulled one back, Argyle turned into a mess thereafter and lost in the dying moments.
Mike Cooper, GK – 5.
After a performance on Saturday that reminded us why he’s one of our most fancied academy products in years, we were brought slightly back down to earth with a display that did show us some of the limitations in his game. That’s not to say that it was a dreadful performance by any means. His distribution was largely excellent, with both short balls and long ones incisively finding their targets. He was rarely beaten from crosses either, perhaps opting to punch rather than cross but that’s often the best decision. And yes, he did make some good saves.
Where he showed himself to be somewhat lacking was his positioning in one vs one scenarios. For the second goal, he came far too far off his line leaving the clear opportunity for Jobi McAnuff to lob him and find the back of the net. He could have done better for the third too. At an angle, he again came charing out perhaps a little too soon and Danny Johnson slotted it through his legs. However, games like this will help him in the long term. He got some big judgement calls wrong but it’s definitely the kind of thing he can learn with time.
Will Aimson, RCB – 7.
Aimson put in a display that wasn’t quite as good as the excellent one that he demonstrated against Blackpool but was still solid enough, doing most things right and being the only centre-back not at fault for any of the three goals. He had a couple of wayward long balls at the very start of the game but largely he played the ball well out from the back and stuck to his man, if not like glue, then certainly well enough to avoid any real issues. If the other two played like him, we wouldn’t have lost…
Scott Wootton, CB – 7.
Wootton’s performance was a microcosm of Plymouth Argyle’s. You can’t deny there are some promising signs to take, but it was spellbounding stupidity that undermined all the good work. After a few dodgy passes early doors, Scott Wootton was largely fantastic for most of the game. He was dominating in the tackle and even commanding in the air, an area of his game that seems vastly improved under Ryan Lowe. He was relaxed on the ball and happily joining the party playing it out. Even as Argyle imploded in front of him, his last ditch defending was pretty good.
In the dying embers of the game, disaster struck. He horrendously miscontrolled a ball that he should have either sent down the line or at worst kicked into touch. His attempted first touch frankly trapped the ball further than he could have planned to kick it and it left Johnson with a one vs one chance against Cooper, which he duly converted. As with the game generally, we can try to see the positives but my goodness it’s frustrating,
Kelland Watts, CB – 5.
I think if any rating is going to get me a bit of flack in the comments section, this one is. He overlapped very well to score our second goal and yes, did make some other promising runs forward. None of that changes the fact that his primary role in the team is to be a defender. Defending is something he did pretty dismally, if we’re being honest. His positioning was erratic at best, being found way higher up the pitch than he should have been for their second goal and unable to prevent McAnuff from going one vs one. He could arguably have done better for the first too, with the loanee once again too far from the play.
Whilst his advanced play was good, he was very poor in his efforts to actually play the ball out of defence, far too often opting for an aimless long ball that came straight back to us. If not for his good movement and finishing in the final third, he’d be looking at an even lower rating.
Lewis McLeod, DCM – 6.
McLeod is a very difficult player to rate. Like Argyle generally, his first half performance was very commendable. He pressed and snapped at the heels of midfielders aplenty, winning the ball back with impressive regularity. He didn’t have much incisive passing to speak of but he played the DCM role as well as he could have. After Orient got their goal back early in the second half however, McLeod appeared to run out of batteries.
Where he previously pressed and harried, he was slow and sluggish. Where he’d previously make a tackle, he would instead let a man pass him and invite pressure in the process. Against Blackpool also, his second half performance was considerably weaker than his one in the first half. You’d hope this changes with match fitness because it’s concerning if it’s a permanent problem.
Byron Moore, RWB – 5.
Another unconvincing performance starting the game from a man who very much impressed in his cameo from the bench against Blackpool. He was involved in the early stages of the game, often providing himself as an outlet for passes. That said, even when Argyle were on song, Moore’s end product wasn’t exactly amazing. There were some good crosses but in truth these were outweighed by the mediocre ones that weren’t really going anywhere.
As Argyle dipped, Moore became a bit anonymous in truth. He was forced back regularly and didn’t provide the best support to his back three. Like so many, his head seemed to drop with the mental blow of conceding. This is something Ryan Lowe needs to work on. Argyle could have been 4-0 up before Orient’s goal against the run of play. There was no need for so many players to develop the jitters the way in which they did.
Pantuche Camara, CM – 7.
Camara is one of the players who emerges from the game with the most credit. His energy is absolutely brilliant and in that regard, he’s clearly a natural replacement for Sarcevic. He did more than enough to earn his spot in the starting eleven for Wimbledon in the league on Saturday. As against Blackpool, he seemed to cover more blades of grass than any other player and in the first half, you never felt he was putting the team at risk positionally from doing so. His use of the ball was also fantastic and of course he popped up with a great finish.
Why only a 7? Well, his head didn’t really drop in the second half like so many did, but his general standard of performance wasn’t as good. He wasn’t blameless as Orient began to take more control of the game. His ball retention became worse and perhaps he slightly ran out of energy, following two games of relentless pressing.
Danny Mayor, CM – 7. Player of the Match,
That first half performance from Danny Mayor is one of the best 45 minutes he’s given the greens since signing from Bury last summer. He was absolutely terrifying the Orient players with every move he made and his decision making, sometimes an area for criticism, was much improved. He spotted the run of Kelland Watts and sent him a pitch perfect assist for Argyle’s second goal. His movement and dribbling were equally delightful on the eye and he was easily headed for a very high score.
Like Camara, if he’d maintained his standard of performance, he was going to be on for a very high score. An 8 at the very least, maybe a 9. That he went missing with the rest of them after the break is a cause for worry but he deserves credit for a cracking first half display. That in itself earns him POTM.
George Cooper, LWB – 6.
Let’s get one thing clear. Cooper is still a tremendous acquisition for Argyle and we’re all still delighted to see him back but there’s no denying that the GC32 we’ve seen so far hasn’t quite been the classic vintage that we know and love. In the second half, his defensive work was particularly lacking and he provided no imputes as we imploded mentally. I know I’m sounding like a stuck record, but there’s no excuse for so many players to go missing in the trenches.
Whilst he was very active in the early stages of the game, his strengths mostly came in running at defenders and forcing them back. We could have done with a few more trademark George Cooper crosses into the box though with Ryan Hardie waiting on the end.
Ryan Hardie, ST – 6.
If you guessed I was going to say that he was lively in the first half and missing in the second….guess what, you’re absolutely right. How did you guess? His movement was absolutely electric in the early stages of the game, his sheer pace breaking through the Orient back line on more occasions than one. He began the move that saw Camara put Argyle into the lead with a fantastic bursting run. That said, he had a second chance after that he should probably have scored. His movement scared the Os but as with Cooper, the end product isn’t quite there yet. It’ll doubtless come as he’s given more time.
Dom Telford, ST -6.
Urgh. That’s about all I can muster. I don’t want to criticise him too badly because there were genuinely some aspects of his performance today that I did really like. Like Hardie, his first half was largely solid. He wasn’t as involved as his Scottish counterpart but he drew their defenders out of position and he played a threaded through ball beautifully for Hardie’s second chance. He obviously wasn’t much of a threat in the air, given his height, but his first half display was something to build on.
Sadly, he came out in the second half and missed an absolute stone wall sitter that would have surely put Argyle 3-0 up and the game beyond reach. He looked furious with himself and was understandably subbed off shortly afterwards. He will have been kicking himself all the way home.
Frank Nouble, ST – 5.
He was clearly brought on to offer a more aerial outlet but in truth he didn’t really provide that. Naturally, he won more long balls than Telford did but he didn’t offer the escape route out from the back that we were hoping for.
Joe Edwards, RWB – 5.
A baffling substitution. Lined up to come on for Cooper before Argyle conceded their second goal, he would have been a good sub to defend a lead. He wasn’t so much use at chasing a game and as such felt a little superfluous.
Conor Grant – CM – N/A
He really wasn’t on long enough to justify a rating. He did actually make a positive impact with some quick movement and some well delivered corners but slightly tainted his cameo with what looked to be a dive in Argyle’s last attack of the game.