Plymouth Argyle are out of the League Cup following a 4-2 defeat at home to Reading that in truth did not quite capture the passage of the game’s play. Argyle matched the Royals in the large part for chance creation and possession and the main difference between the two sides was in goalkeeping and defensive errors.

Mike Cooper, GK – 4

A difficult day for Argyle’s young custodian. He looked a little nervy at the start of the game, spilling a couple of shots, and certainly looked like he could have done better for Reading’s first equaliser. He seemed to grow into the game, and had a couple of times in which he did well coming off his line until a key moment in the second half when he was beaten to the ball and gave away a penalty. He also made a disappointing effort in trying to keep out the visitors’ breakaway fourth. Hopefully, Cooper learns from this experience.

Scott Wootton, CB – 4

And it was all going so well. Wootton’s improved start to the season saw him come crashing back down to earth with a bang after this performance. He seemed to overcommit himself a little for both the first and second goals, leading to both of them coming from the right hand side. And whilst he did win a few headers, directing them was another matter. Only some good passing play in spells prevented an even lower score.

Niall Canavan, CB – 7

Niall Canavan really does appear to be coming on in leaps and bounds this season. He wasn’t necessarily terrible under Derek Adams, but there has certainly been an improvement in a system that is more suited to his skills. Against Reading he was once again assured in the air, and looked competent with the ball at his feet, with one well placed ball from a free kick just failing to set McFadzean free.

Josh Grant, CB – 7

A really assured performance from the Chelsea loanee. Whilst the current first-choice back three are likely to retain their places against Northampton, Grant must surely be knocking on the door. He looked supremely confident on the ball for a centre back, something Lowe always looks for, and also seemed to carry out his defensive duties competently. It was a shame he had to go off in the second half.

Joe Edwards, CDM – 7

It was another really classy performance from the dominant defensive midfielder. Argyle matched Reading in midfield for much of the game. He just has the knack of not only reading the game and seeing where the ball is going but also pressing energetically to regain it and begin attacking transitions. If we get promoted this season, Edwards’ ability to win the ball will have a lot to do with it. That said, he did tire as the game went on which knocks him down from an 8.

Tafari Moore, RWB – 5

Moore came out of the tracks like a man possessed in the first half; pressing, hassling and doing all he could to force himself into the game. However, his end product was a little limited, often making the wrong decisions around the box. His high work rate and ground covered did continue throughout the game but he was caught too high up the pitch for Reading’s first goal and was skinned a few times by their winger in the second half. We need to be looking at alternative options if Riley is injured for any length of time.

Jose Baxter, CM – 8 (Player of the Match)

After a slow burn phase into the Argyle team, this kind of performance on his first start will do him a lot of favours when it comes to regaining his slot. He used his body and spatial awareness really well to get out of tight spaces and picked out the right pass more often than not. The cherry on the cake of his performance was the goal: a sublime finish that left the keeper with no chance. We were weaker after his substitution.

Danny Mayor, CM – 8

Mayor was once more among Argyle’s primary threats on the attack – when isn’t he? Once more, we saw some excellent dribbles to drive Argyle forward, and again he linked up well with McFadzean down the Argyle left. We will also surely see more goals this season from Mayor running to the byline and cutting in. There were a couple of overhit passes in this performance, but it was still very good.

Callum McFadzean, LWB – 7

There is no doubt that McFadzean benefits from playing alongside Mayor. The pair clearly have a strong understanding from playing together at Bury last season, and McFadzean seems to have a certain instinct for getting forward and knowing when Mayor will play him in. His end product wasn’t the finest today. A couple of his shots were blocked and a few too many crosses fell too close to the goalkeeper, though it could be argued that Lowe expects his wing backs to play the ball into the dangerous areas, so McFadzean doesn’t take all of the blame.

Ryan Taylor, ST – 7

We were all filled with a sense of dread when he was subbed off at half-time, largely due to his injury record which doesn’t provide much hope for the short term prospects of his availability. He had a pretty good game on the whole, coming deep often enough to create chances for others whilst also showing more of what Ryan Lowe actually wants from him which is making attacking runs into the box. He took his goal well even if it’s fair to say it should almost certainly have been disallowed due to it going out of play in the build up.

Zak Rudden, ST – 6

We’re still going off first impressions with Rudden so far, so it’s best not to cast an overall judgement just yet. Against Reading, however, he looked like a player who tried hard without showcasing much technical ability. He pressed well, and certainly didn’t shy away from his defensive responsibilities, particularly when aiding McFadzean on the left. It’s also likely that goals will eventually flow for the player through his runs into the penalty area. However, was he positively involved in the moves Argyle crafted when going forward? Not exactly.

Substitutes

Klaidi Lolos – 7

Whilst Rudden showed a lot of industry without much real quality, Lolos showed the same level of industry whilst looking more threatening and positively involved in the final third. He can hold the ball up and battle well for someone so young and it was a shame to see him on the losing side. If the worst has happened and Taylor too is injured, he may well find himself starting at Sixfields on Saturday.

Conor Grant, CM – 6

Grant really is a funny player to analyse in the context of this performance. He came on when we were 2–1 up and we lost the game 4-2, but individually he wasn’t too bad. He carried the ball well and got some neat tackles in as part of our pressing based counter attack. However, he does lose a mark for needlessly backing out of a challenge as the Royals broke away to score their fourth. He’s had a good season so far but doesn’t offer quite as much as Jose Baxter as the long term partner to Danny Mayor.

Gary Sawyer, CB – 5

Argyle’s captain will not be too impressed with his own performance. Like Grant, he came on with the Greens 2–1 up, and departed with Reading 4-2 winners. Of course, not all of the blame can be put at Sawyer’s doorstep – much of that was entirely coincidental. However, it wasn’t lost on us that he lost a header that led directly to Reading’s second equaliser. As has been mentioned, it would be a surprise not to see him start on Saturday. However, many expect him to be gradually phased out of the team as the season goes on. Could this be the start?

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