A dismal day out for the Pilgrims at Sixfields saw Argyle lose 3-1, with all the damage done inside the first 45 minutes of the game. A refereeing performance that could politely be described as a load of Cobblers didn’t help the cause, and Ryan Lowe’s men were unlucky to find themselves 1-0 and then 2-1 down early on.

After the second goal, however, Argyle had a horror-show first half, passing the ball haplessly around their own box like Manchester City on quaaludes as a hungrier Northampton side snapped at their heels. In truth, it could have been worse than 3-1 at the break. In a bid to change things round, Lowe replaced an average centre back and a busy striker with an average centre back and a busy striker. The second half was better, but Northampton always looked comfortable.

Alex Palmer, GK – 6

Palmer has been majestic since signing for Argyle, but this was far from his best game. A few smart saves, but today’s performance showed the limits of good distribution when you’re having to distribute inside your own box with no room for teammates to push out. Put defenders under pressure at times and looked flatfooted for Northampton’s third goal, though it was a lucky finish.

Scott Wootton, CB – 5

Greeted with a rousing chant of “he used to be shite, but now he’s alright,” but Argyle fans may be rethinking those lyrics tonight. Too often ponderous as Argyle’s back three got hemmed in by Northampton’s full-court press. Not shite, but not really alright, either.

Niall Canavan, CB – 4

The less said the better. A number of misplaced passes and appeared to lose his marker on more than one occasion, as well as being at fault for possibly two of the three goals that Argyle conceded.

Gary Sawyer, CB – 5

Northampton’s goals came down his side. Reasonably tidy on the ball. Pulled at half-time and replaced with Josh Grant.

Joe Riley, RWB – 6

Drilled home a fine-looking free kick. Riley has shown real intent going forward this season, and it was only a matter of time before he got a goal. Galloped willingly down the right, especially in the second-half, but like a hedgehog by the M1, he was hesitant to cross.

Joe Edwards, CDM – 5

Not enough of a presence as Northampton bullied Argyle in the first half. Tried at least one of his trademark wriggling around on the floor hook tackles. Tidy enough after the break.

Conor Grant, CM – 5

When I said “Conor Grant” to a friend I attended the game with after the final whistle, he replied “who?” Anonymous. The gumption of Antoni Sarcevic was sorely missed today.

Callum McFadzean, LWB – 6

Epitomised Argyle’s day: got smacked in the face early on, by both the ball and the referee, struggled to find his feet. He did better in the second half but didn’t have enough of a cutting edge to force the issue.

Danny Mayor, CM – 6

Some twinkle-toed moments and sharp passes, but when Argyle are playing poorly he doesn’t grab games by the throat the way Carey and Lameiras used to.

Ryan Taylor, ST – 7, player of the match

Fed off scraps and still turned out Michelin-starred hold-up play. Didn’t add to his three goals this week, but did spray a couple of nice passes to link play. Sadly, but not surprisingly, the subject of fan groans when he did make a mistake. An under-appreciated player.

Zak Rudden, ST – 6

Ran around a lot, sometimes quite fast. Taken off at half-time and replaced with Byron Moore.

Substitutes

Josh Grant, CB – 6

A meagre improvement on Sawyer’s performance. Kept a clean sheet but mislaid some passes, too. He was however involved in some nice link-up play down the left.

Byron Moore, ST – 5

Another player who also ran around a lot. Nice close control but seems to lack the explosivity to get away from his man. Docked a mark for a jaw-dropping miss at the back post.

George Cooper, ST – 5

Played with the slick-haired entitlement of a man who has been coached by Darren Ferguson. Nearly scored with a fine shot late in the game and pinged a couple of passes to switch play, but seemed to play within himself and gave the ball away too often.

With thanks to Jon Allsop for supplying player ratings for the game this weekend.