One of the biggest games of the season so far was won by Plymouth Argyle in a crunch top of the table clash at Home Park. A tight first half saw Argyle edge it but it was the visitors who came out in the ascendency after the break, taking the lead with an unstoppable striker from Harry Pickering. Argyle persisted and equalised soon after thanks to Luke Jephcott’s great header. The greens then won a penalty for a foul on Danny Mayor which Antoni Sarcevic converted with nerves of steel.
Alex Palmer – GK, 6
It was a bit of a funny game from Palmer today. His distribution will no doubt continue to take a bit of criticism as it often has over the past few games and not without good reason. A large number of his attempted passes failed to find the intended target with a not unreasonable amount going out for throw ins. However, the conditions in the game cannot be ignored. The ball was skidding and sliding around due to intense winds and heavy rain, hard for any player to play in and for a keeper even worse.
Overall, he managed the conditions well, saving what he needed to and proving his usual, assured command of area. However, he could have managed the backpass a bit better that allowed Chris Porter a (seemingly unmissable) open goal. He seemed to go for it and then change his mind, without the benefits of either clearing the ball or guarding the goal.
Scott Wootton- RCB, 6
Wootton has still had a much better season than a lot of Argyle fans have expected but it would be fair to say his performances have trended downwards slightly in recent weeks. He defended fairly well today but still had a few issues with high balls, struggled more than others on the surface and didn’t ever really get into any consistent pattern with his distrubtuion. Balls cleared down his side had a tendency to come back more often that not. A capable enough display but a return to form we saw in November and early December would be very much welcome.
Niall Canavan- CB, 8
Another fantastic game at the back from the man who is probably Antoni Sarcevic’s closest rival for the player of the season award. Canavan was a colossus in the air as he always is and excelled himself in his calmness playing out from the back. Defensive creativity is hard at the best of times but on a day where the pitch was cutting up left, right and centre, this was doubly the case. The big Yorkshireman has had a real renaissance this season and he always keeps his head when those around him are losing theirs. His tackling was also brilliant, emphasising the importance of good timing.
Callum McFadzean – LCB, 6
This is an unusual role for McFadzean, make no mistake, Against Salford, he was Argyle’s ace card, often making unexpected runs from deep. A master of chaos for the home defence to contend with, he pulled them out of shape to our advantage. Today’s performance was very different. He didn’t run forward with or without the ball nearly as much, tending to stay as part of a solid defensive line.
He was mostly capable enough in the air and on the floor but he made two big bloopers that nearly cost Argyle goals. It was his weak backpass that resulted in that comical Chris Porter miss and he was unlucky not to concede a penalty in the first half when he caught a Crewe attacker in the box without getting the ball. Not his natural role and you’d expect to see Sawyer back in on Tuesday.
Josh Grant – DCM, 9 – Player of the Match
What a fantastic performance. The loanee was absolutely everywhere and has at least for now cemented this particular spot in the team. He won tackles with perfect timing when he needed to and his passing was exquisite. Far stronger away from centre-back, this was one of the finest individual displays from any player we’ve seen this season. He controlled a game that Argyle dominated and there was virtually nothing to fault.
Joe Edwards- RWB, 7
Edwards might not have the pace or thrills of Byron Moore at wing-back but he is growing into Mr Consistency for Argyle and he built on this reputation today with another solid display. He protects Scott Wootton superbly defensively, severely restricting the attacks which come down Argyle’s right side. He isn’t quite so good going forward but he showed positive indications here today, linking up nicely with Antoni Sarcevic for spells.
Antoni Sarcevic- RCM, 9
On almost any other day, Sarcevic would have easily claimed man of the match from this one. As it is, he only just makes third due to two other spectacular performances. But lets not undermine just how good the Mancunian was in this game. He’s been famed this season for his energy, bursting around the pitch and picking up countless loose balls and turning the balance of play in Argyle’s favour. He did all of this today and more, moving the ball forward rapidly. Let’s not forget a perfectly placed penalty, blasted into the cortner of the goal at speed. A near flawless display.
Danny Mayor- LCM, 8
Danny Mayor needed a big performance and he certainly got one today. It was his best creative display in a good while and, as seen with Sarcevic, he mucked in defensively too. He had one absolutely spectacular moment where a stunning through ball and a bit of interchange saw him running towards goal in the Crewe penalty box before he was hacked down for a penalty.
Even generally, he carried and moved the ball a lot better than we’ve seen in the past few weeks and it’s good to see him get another assist to his name. Whilst he still needs to add some goals, this was a big step in the right direction.
George Cooper- LWB, 5
It just wasn’t really his game. That’s all there is to be said really. Paul Sturrock, back in the day, would have described this game as one for the ‘blood and snotters’. By that he meant the players who prioritise a tireless work rate and physical energy above their technical attributes and for all Cooper’s many strengths, this isn’t really what he is. He had some moments of promise, with a couple of very good crosses but by and large he was anonymous and will be hoping for a better surface next week to showcase his talents.
Byron Moore- ST, 8
Not since Oscar Threlkeld in the 16/17 season has there been a player who I’ve wanted to clone quite so much as Byron Moore. Taking aside the ethical implications, his versatility makes him worth his weight in gold for Argyle. He started the game brilliantly up front. His chemistry with Luke Jephcott develops game on game. Together, they’ve developed a near psychic understanding of when to make runs and when to hold back.
Moore battled well in the air and got some excellent flick ons. When needed, he moved out to left-wing-back and supported the defence very well there. Let’s give some credit to him too for a superb cross for Argyle’s equalising goal at a time where we really needed a tough of magic from somewhere.
Luke Jephcott- ST, 9
Josh Grant won man of the match by an absolute whisker, with an absolutely majestic performance from the 20 year old youngster coming extremely close to beating him. Jephcott was superb in every department, proving to sceptics that he’s about far more than just goals. Not that his goals don’t justify a place in the team by themselves, having got an impressive 6 from just 6 starts.
Here though, Jephcott’s real strength was in his maturity. He was up against a huge centre-back and proved every bit is equal, winning headers and physical duels that he had no right to win, as well as floating in the air for an inch perfect header to convert Moore’s excellent cross.
Tyreeq Bakinson- DCM, 7
Grant was moved to centre-back to allow the loanee to come in in DCM and he made a good case for a return to the starting team with his best performance we’ve seen in a while. He shielded the defence well as well as starting good counter-attacks on more than one occasion.
Ryan Hardie- ST, N/A
Moved on to allow Byron Moore to move to wing-back, Hardie for the first time managed to come off the bench without scoring! He did come close though with a scuffed effort at the end nearly creeping under William Jääskeläinen in goal. He didn’t get on the ball a lot but looked lively when he did
Joel Grant- ST, N/A
Brought on late, Joel barely touched the ball but held it up quite well when he did as Argyle saw out the game in the corner flag.