Argyle’s only home fixture of the pre-season campaign won’t be one that lives long in the memory. It was a fairly turgid affair that saw Bristol Rovers win 1 – 0 with a late goal from new signing Victor Adeboyejo. Neither team really looked like they got going and a flurry of second half substitutions from both sides resulted in an even, yet unspectacular match.
Alex Palmer – 7
Palmer looked solid and comfortable throughout. He made a good save from a one-on-one situation, like he did against Torquay, and distrubed the ball well, kicking long when necessary but always looking for the short pass. Based on this performance, it looks likely that he’ll start ahead of Cooper in the season opener against Crewe.
Scott Wootton – 5
A nervous performance that contained a handful of unforced errors, one of which perhaps should have led to a goal scoring opportunity. This was another reminder of the unfortunate truth that Wootton is a player who does not seem to have the quality to participate in a promotion winning team. The lack of depth in defence is worrying going into the start of the season, with Aimson set to miss the opening game at Crewe. Wootton did test the goalkeeper at the other end of the field, with a shot that was saved well following a corner.
Niall Canavan – 6
Canavan looked like the most reassured of the three centre backs and put in a solid, if unspectacular performance. His distribution adds an extra dimension to his play that his fellow defenders do not have. While he still has work to do, he certainly looks comfortable in this team, more so than he did last season, and will surely start at Crewe.
Gary Sawyer – 6
After a questionable first few minutes to the game, when Rovers started quickly, Sawyer performed fairly. He doesn’t look completely comfortable in a more central position compared to the left-back position that he grew comfortable to over a decade in football. Having said that, he should be solid enough for the season ahead.
Joe Edwards – 7, player of the match
One of Argyle’s best players throughout pre-season, Edwards put in another good performance against Rovers. He was calm on the ball, passed well, and organised both the midfield and back three. Injuries and suspensions aside, it looks like most will struggle to break into the starting eleven ahead of him. A vital cog in Lowe’s new team and arguably his signing of the summer.
Joe Riley – 6
Although he has been one of Argyle’s better performers throughout pre-season, Riley had a quiet game. Whilst he got forward well, but he struggled with his crossing, either failing to beat the first man or clearing the goal mouth entirely. Given Nicky Adams – an out and out winger – provided three goals and nine assists from open play last season, it seems hard to see both he and Tafari Moore combined getting close to that total next season.
Antoni Sarcevic – 5
A popular figure amongst the Argyle faithful, Sarcevic showed all the tireless work ethic he’s become famed for. Unfortunately, his passing was weak and he looked lost in the centre of midfield, unclear of his role within the team. This has been a trend all throughout pre-season, as he struggles to adapt to a role that demands so much more of him in possession. He’s likely to struggle to hold off Conor Grant for a starting spot next weekend, and possibly stands fourth in the central-midfield hierarchy at the moment.
Danny Mayor – 7
Despite being one of the better players on the pitch it was a somewhat frustrating performance from Danny Mayor. Clearly a very talented footballer, he showcased a few of his mazey runs, on occasion skipping by players with ease. Unfortunately, we didn’t see enough of him running with the ball and driving forward. You get the distinct impression there’s a lot more to come from him.
Callum McFadzean – 6
Another solid, yet unspectacular, performance from Callum MacFadzean. As with Riley he got forward well, but rarely produced that final pass or cross that could create a chance. Will almost certainly start against Crewe but Lowe will want to see more from him.
Joel Grant – 6
Joel Grant worked hard throughout and was another player that you can have few complaints about. Nonetheless, for all his of his effort Grant’s time on the pitch didn’t translate into chances or attempts on goal. His movement in attack was lacking, and it showed that Argyle had two wingers playing up front. He will be around the first team this season but it’s unclear where or how he fits into this system effectively.
Byron Moore – 5
Missed a good opportunity early on to open the scoring when he beat the opposition goalkeeper to a short back pass. You’d have expected him to be a little more composed and score in such opportunities. For the rest of the game he was largely absent and whilst starved of much service, he did little to help himself. It’s early days for Moore, and this game is unlikely to be a reflection of his overall ability.
Mike Cooper – (n/a)
Ben Hall – 5
Unfortunately, Hall made the mistake which resulted in the Rovers goal. Perhaps unlucky not to start whilst on trial for the club, Hall didn’t have much time to show what else he could do. He may rue making the error but you can expect Lowe won’t make his mind up purely on today’s performance. Having said that, how many other opportunities can he possibly get to impress Lowe enough to win a contract.
Yet, it’s odd that Lowe publicly commented on only wanting an additional loan signing early this week, only to have a free agent play less than 48 hours later.
Adam Randell – 6
Another highlight from Argyle’s pre-season, Randell came on as a second half substitute and held his own. He has a bright future in the game, albeit he may not be ready just yet.
Conor Grant – 7
It would be very surprising indeed if Connor Grant hasn’t forced his way into the starting line up come next Saturday. Grant looked composed on the ball, dribbled well and moved possession into more attacking areas of the pitch. He, Mayor and Edwards are surely the strongest midfield available to Lowe until Baxter is ready to start.
Jose Baxter – 6
Looks like a fiery character with something to prove but unfortunately he saw little of the ball. Unlikely to start against Crewe but should be around the first eleven with time. Needs to boost his fitness and find his match sharpness, all while adjusting to Lowe’s demanding central-midfield position. It might take him until September or October to click into gear.
Ashley Smith-Brown – 6
Smith-Brown had a quiet game when he came on during the second half. Looks like he will see minutes this season but for the time being is clearly behind Riley and MacFadzean in the pecking order.
Klaidi Lolos – 6
There’s no denying this kid has the potential to be a real talent. He threw himself around the pitch, trying to cause a nuisance as he has in previous games. Rovers were a little more switched on to it than previous opponents but Lolos will clearly play his part this season. With injuries, and the performances of other strikers, there’s an outside chance of starting next Saturday.