Matt Macey – 4
The defeat against Peterborough was game to forget for Matt Macey. An early mistake leading to our oppositions opener seemed to derail the loanee stopper, culminating his worst performance in an Argyle shirt. Macey received a relatively simple back pass from Scott Wootton in the eighth minute and uncharacteristically cleared the ball straight to the feet of Jason Cummings. The defence failed to deal with the run of the Peterborough forward who then weighted a fantastic ball straight into the path of Matt Godden, who volleyed the ball in at the far post. From this point onwards, Macey seemed to lack the confidence which he displayed throughout his short tenure as Argyles number one, as Peterborough’s lead continued to grow. On a separate note, it is disgraceful for our own fans to boo and jeer our own goalkeeper, especially so early into his Argyle career. This occurred a number of times, when he was receiving a back pass or clearing the ball and is completely out of order. He’s had one bad performance, in which his defence certainly didn’t help, and I hear people calling for our past goalkeepers. Its still very early but Macey has been our best player so far this season and without him we still be rooted to the bottom of the table, but with zero points having lost every single game; he’s been that important. I am finding it impossible to rate the players performances from this match, without commenting on the other factors outside of the players themselves which led to this disastrous performance, so expect more on that later. Regardless, I hope and truly believe that this game will prove to be a one-off, as Macey seems like a fantastic young goalkeeper, evident from his performances up until Saturdays defeat.
Tafari Moore – 4
Moore seemed to have snatched the starting role off of Joe Riley after one game, though his performance against Peterborough may have Adams second guessing his decision. Though he continued to thrive going forward, he proved to be somewhat of a defensive liability. He was out of position far too often, providing the opposition plenty of chances to create opportunities. For Peterborough’s second goal, Moore was so far out of position, failing to get back after a period of Argyle possession. After Argyle lost the ball, Dembele popped up unmarked on Argyle’s right flank, with Moore trailing him by some distance. His positioning certainly didn’t help his centre halfs, as they were brought out of position to help cover. A number of times, he was simply strolling back while our opponents were attacking, when his first instinct should be to get back and help out. He was caught out again for Peterborough’s third; when Songo’o was caught out and Wootton had to come across to cover, Moore was a good 10 yards behind Cummings, who put the chance away. His control of the ball was poorer than usual, allowing Peterborough more chances to break forward, losing it a number of times in relatively dangerous areas. Moore has promise going forward, but against a team of such attacking quality, he needs to be more focused on the defensive end.
Scott Wootton – 4
Scott Wootton had a very bad game, similar to the defenders either side of him. He struggled with the pace of the Peterborough attack. After Maceys’s mistake for the opener, he failed to track Godden after Canavan came over to his side in order to cover Cummings. He ended up in no-mans land, marking space, ball watching and allowed an unmarked Godden to knock in an uncontested cross; by the time he reached the Peterborough forward, his attempt to block the shot was futile. He got pulled out of position for Peterborough’s third goal, forced into coming across to cover Godden, but failed to prevent a cross to an open Cummings, who placed the ball past Macey. Peterborough had countless chances to score by simply playing the ball past him and beating him to the ball. Wootton struggled to catch Godden again after he raced away after a long ball, and while he failed to convert the one-on-one, it was evident that he could get the better of Wootton at every opportunity and he was substituted soon after.
Niall Canavan – 4
Niall Canavan was very poor against Peterborough, which resulted in his departure at the interval. Paired again with the equally poor Scott Wootton, he as well struggled to deal with the pace of the relentless opposition attack. A mistake made by him led directly to Peterborough’s second goal. His poor pass fell directly to Mark O’Hara, and soon the ball ended up in the path of Siriki Dembele, who finished well. He continued in the same manner, failing to adjust to the speed of the game and was substituted for a forward at half time, signalling a change in style. Communication seemed to be an issue throughout, as Argyle’s defenders got trapped more than often by the movement of the Peterborough forwards. Canavan and Wootton didn’t seem to know where each other were half the time, and it showed. An out of character performance from the usually steady, if not spectacular defender.
Ashley Smith-Brown – 6
Ashley Smith-Brown had a bright start but seemed to peter out towards the end of the game. Unlike the rest of the defence, he didn’t do too much wrong, dealing with any danger in his usual calm manner. Most of the Peterborough attacks came through the centre of the pitch and Argyle’s right hand side, while Smith-Brown worked well with Grant to sure up their side of the pitch. He also worked well with Grant as an attacking force, and his end product was definitely an improvement on previous outings, although these opportunities were not taken. Despite this, he seemed to fade out as the deficit increased. I would still like to see Smith-Brown play as a wing back as part of a five man defensive unit, as I feel his ability to play both sides of the ball would be perfected suited to that system, in turn fitting the attacking style of Moore on the other flank. It’s surprising to see Argyle opt for a four-four-two as opposed to trying any back three/five formation and it didn’t work out on this occasion.
Antoni Sarcevic – 5
Sarcevic found himself unfamiliarly on the right of the midfield quartet. A bizarre decision many would find as his role is usually as Argyle’s energy man, going from box to box, providing crucial contributions at either end. It was obvious that he didn’t enjoy it as he was often found drifting inside into a more central role, causing Tafari Moore to cover more of the flank, which in turn exposed us at the back. He was moved to a more central position in the second half as Songo’o was moved to the back. He seems to still lack match fitness a result from his prior injury and lacked his usually boundless energy as the game drew to a close. I would have expected to have seen him be brought off, had we not made some ridiculous substitutions earlier in the game, as he did not look comfortable, especially working in a central midfield duo.
Yann Songo’o – 6
A tale of two halves for Songo’o or rather more fittingly, a tale of two positions. Starting out in central midfield, Songo’o excelled in his holding role. His defensive work in midfield is exceptional, a relentless drive to recover the ball both on the ground and in the air; unmatched among the rest of the squad. The two goals conceded by Argyle in the first half had nothing to do with Songo’o as individual mistakes among the back five led to the opposition going into the break with a two goal advantage. Although they were somewhat directionless, he continued to win headers and tackles, breaking up attacks and providing a tough physical presence in the midfield. This all changed when Adams made the appalling decision to move Songo’o to central defence. Arguably our best player in the first half was being moved from a position where he was effective, to a position where he has been a proven liability. Our centre halves were playing poorly and something needed to change, but a better decision would have been to keep Songo’o where he was, and bring Edwards off the bench to replace a centre half. Not ten minutes into the second half, Songo’o got caught out of position, Godden raced away and played a ball straight into Cummings who scored Peterborough’s third. Songo’o is often seen as a scapegoat for Argyle’s mishaps, but he has a role in this team, and needlessly playing him in a position where he is clearly uncomfortable is a poor decision.
Jamie Ness – 5
Jamie Ness had a rather understated return after his red card against Coventry. He didn’t do much wrong, while also not really contributing a whole lot. Shied away from the spectacular, preferring to play simple passes over long cross field drives which he has employed a fair bit so far this season. Worked well with Songo’o in central midfield, adopting the more attacking role, linking up well with Grant and Smith-Brown, assisting in the creating of better Argyle’s better first half chances. An familiar formation may have unsettled Ness, just like a number of his teammates.
Conor Grant – 6 (MOTM)
After proving somewhat ineffectual in previous spells out in wide positions this season, many expected a similar outing for Grant after seeing the formation selected by Adams, positioning Grant on the left hand side of midfield. However, despite the dreadful team performance, Grant proved to be one of Argyles better players, providing a scarcely found positive outlet throughout the match. He worked well, with Smith-Brown down the left flank to create a number of critical opportunities throughout the first half, which were not taken by the forwards. He also worked well with Smith-Brown to prevent much attacking action down his flank; he is an underrated defensive force. Argyle’s singular goal came from a set-piece taken by Grant, whipping a fantastic ball to the back post which was met by Ryan Edwards; marking the second time this season a Grant/Edwards set-piece has resulted in a goal. His set-piece delivery is of high quality and should be held in high regard, and he poses a potent threat whenever he has the ball at his feet.
Graham Carey – 4
Another moment of madness for Graham Carey against Peterborough, conceding yet another penalty, which continued his very lacklustre start of the season. He created a number of half-chances and had a few attempts at goal but rarely troubled the Peterborough goal. He brought down Joe Ward in the box following a corner and Peterborough were awarded a second half penalty, leading to their fourth goal. Carey often made the wrong decision in the final third, opting to shoot over making the extra pass, for an easier chance. It’s almost as if he’s trying to win the game by himself, and while he has the quality to do so, he needs to use his teammates more. I hear many calls for him to be dropped, but I tend to disagree. He commands so much attention because of his pedigree, teams focus in on him, which opens up space for other players to thrive. Carey needs to utilise this and find the other players when they’ve got a better chance. And while he is not performing to the level he should, he is the best player on this team and is capable of turning nothing in to something and singlehandedly dragging Argyle to results, as he has done so many times in the past. We don’t have many players who can do that.
Freddie Ladapo – 5
Freddie Ladapo does everything right until the finish. His hold up play is good, not reaching the level of Taylor, but is definitely above the level compared to some back-up strikers Argyle have had in recent years. His anticipation could use some work, and he tends to mistime his jumps, especially when challenging for headers. There were some flashes of quality, he plays well with the ball at his feet, and is usually in the right place at the right time, an important skill for strikers. His finishing leaves a lot to be desired, squandering chance after chance against Peterborough. He took his chance well against Wycombe but his finishing has to improve if he is to keep his place in the team. On that note, Taylor should be starting over Ladapo. Adams’ team selection has turned from strange to outright confusing. Last year when we played without Taylor, we were noticeably worse, and so the fact he isn’t starting is aggravating. He may have an injury concern but he is still playing so it doesn’t seem too serious. The team we finished last year with was winning games, and two noticeable absentees, Taylor and Lameiras are not in the team now. We’re now losing games and I think that this team selection has to play a part. Some of the new lads are talented, but Adams needs to get his best team on the pitch.
Subs Ryan Taylor (h/t) – 5
An underwhelming display from Taylor, sent on at half time for Niall Canavan as Argyle switched to a flat four-four-two. Again, as proven countless times before, this formation does not work. Taylor never really got going, struggling to make any lasting impression on the game. Him and Ladapo seemed to get in each others way more and more as the game progressed. While Taylor failed to create any chances for himself, he got the ball to Ladapo a few times in good areas, only for the chances to go to waste. Taylor seems to be picking up a bad habit, while his hold up play is fantastic, he needs to focus on the ball far more. Every time the ball comes into him, he’s too focused on the defensive player and trying to extort a foul, which is rarely given against the defender in the football league. Its still surprising to see him coming off the bench with his proven talent and importance to this team.
Gary Sawyer (56) – 6
Making your last two substitutions and swapping both centre halves is a bizarre move but there is very little that Adams could do that would surprise me anymore. Leaving a player as talented as Lameiras out of the squad had fans confused, the move to place Songo’o at centre half angered a number of fans, who were soon proven right, but it just seemed like we gave up after this substitution. Gary Sawyer came in and did his job, as he usually does, helping to instigate a decent spell at the back. But when we’re four goals down and we’re using our last two subs on defenders, there just doesn’t seem like much of a point after that.
Ryan Edwards (56) – 6
I would be furious if I was Ryan Edwards. Edwards was Argyle’s best central defender in the first half of last season. He then fought back from his illness, and proved he was still playing at a high level. He was one of Argyles best players in the opener against Walsall, yet he finds himself a regular on the bench, five games into the league campaign. Hopefully this game may convince Adams to slot Edwards back into the heart of our backline, as it showcased how much of an influence he has on the way we defend. He took his goal well, rising up above his marker a placing a good header downwards into the net. Regardless of this strange and somewhat outrageous team selection, he took charge of the defence following his introduction and I would be surprised if he’s not starting at the back in the coming games.
Not Used: David Fox; Joel Grant; Gregg Wylde; Kyle Letheren