Plymouth Argyle weathered an early storm – nay, hurricane – to emerge unscathed and eventually claim all three points against a very wasteful Mansfield Town. The Stags missed three huge chances and could have gone into half-time at least 4-0 to the good, only for Niall Canavan’s header to tip the game in the Pilgrim’s favour.
A clumsy challenge on Joe Edwards allowed Antoni Sarcevic to double the lead, before Andy Cook’s excellent, opportunistic finish made a game of it. Ryan Hardie scored his second goal in two substitute appearances to put the game to bed, as the chase for an automatic promotion place continued.
Alex Palmer, GK – 7
Had it not been for Palmer, Argyle would have gone into half-time at least one goal down if not more. He made a selection of good saves during the early onslaught, preventing the Stag’s from getting their antlers in front. He was first called into action instantly from kick-off, and went on to prevent what appeared to be certain-goals on more than one occasion.
Despite the catalogue of impressive saves, the youngster did make a few mistakes. The first, a wayward goal-kick resulted in a dangerous attack which could have been fatal if the Stag’s frontline were all singing from the same hymn sheet. Next on the agenda was a dubious decision from referee Trevor Kettle which saw Palmer get away with what appeared to be a penalty. To conclude, an awkward strike from Andy Cook found itself rebounding into the goal as Palmer failed to judge the flight of the ball, although this was admittedly a very awkward strike.
Yet, without his first-half interventions, it would have been a very different game, one that Argyle probably would not have won.
Scott Wootton, CB – 6
Although Wootton’s performance came with a sense of solidity, we did see the occasional phantom presence of the previous Wootton return. A few suspect clearances resulted in possession changing hands but bar that he was resolute. The firepower of the Stag’s frontline was always going to be a problem, but Wootton and co applied themselves superbly and dealt with the necessary danger with differing levels of ease.
Niall Canavan, CB – 8, player of the match
A stellar performance from the Irishman was integral to the acquisition of all three points. Canavan’s aerial presence was vital in a game in which the midfield struggled in the air. The defender also added to his goal scoring tally as he expertly notched a far-post header pass Stag’s goalkeeper, Bobby Olejnk. At the time this was very much against the run of play and the goal subsequently acted as a building block for the Pilgrim’s to work off.
The goal wasn’t his only game-changing intervention, as he parked himself superbly on the goal line in order to deny what was a certain goal when the score was 1-0. If Mansfield drew level, the course of the game could have been very different. He may have been part of the defence that struggled to contain a dangerous front three, but he more than made up for that.
Gary Sawyer, CB – 7
With little to note regarding Sawyer’s performance, it echoes the quiet consistency of his work, which he went about with little to no bother at all. Although the first-half saw a few hairy moments where his lack of pace was exposed, he adapted quickly. Despite the defensive struggles in the first half, much of this was down to a mobile attack and a midfield struggles rather than Sawyer individually.
Tyreeq Bakinson, DM – 7
Bakinson continued from where he left off on his Home Park debut. He screened the defence well for the most part, though there were more lapses than there should have been, such as when he allowed Nicky Maynard through on goal in the first half.
The youngster also offered a great range of passing to supplement the quality of the team, calmly distributing the ball under pressure. However, he lacked urgency and gave the ball away in a sloppy manner on a few occasions, offering Mansfield’s dangerous trio the opportunity to counter-attack. Yet, these are minor criticisms, as Bakinson truly hit the ground running as well as the woodwork, twice!
Joe Edwards, RWB – 7
Once again there is little to note regarding Edwards’ performance but the quite nature of his afternoon simply demonstrates the ease he found in nullifying the threat that came his way. On the offensive front Edwards is improving his attacking qualities week-on-week with his delivery becoming particularly dangerous.
Additionally, and subsequently the reason why he finds himself with a 7 and not a 6, it was he who won the penalty that put Argyle in total control. A very clever performance from the former Walsall man and perhaps a dark-horse avoiding the spotlight at the moment.
Antoni Sarcevic, CM – 7
A slow start from the people’s captain saw Argyle struggle to get a grasp on proceedings early on. However, once the Argyle number 7 found his groove the Greens looked more convincing in the middle of the park. The first half saw Argyle struggle to reclaim possession but the second half was a different story, with Sarcevic competing for 50-50s more frequently. His performance was capped off with an expertly dispatched penalty midway through the second half.
Danny Mayor, CM – 6
Another quiet performance for the Argyle number 10 as we failed to see the playmaker make a large impact on the game. Although we saw glimpses of his creative self, there was an almost reserved attitude as he collected the ball on occasions. Mayor still offered the same ball retention skills throughout, helping quieten Mansfield’s rampant attack, but he does need to show more – as he himself surely knows.
George Cooper, LWB – 8
A vital component in all things creative, George Cooper finished the day with yet another assist to his name. The Argyle Life sponsored player demonstrated his finesse with a superb set piece which found the head of Niall Canavan. Equally useful in the defensive department too, the Peterborough loanee is really starting to acclimatise to life at wing-back.
His creative output has been a gift to the Argyle frontline as his wand of a left foot has frequently caused chaos in the opposition’s penalty area.
Luke Jephcott, ST – 5
The new glistening Grandstand overshadowed the homecoming of new prodigy Luke Jephcott as he struggled to make the same impact he had in the past two weeks. Although we saw little in the terms of goal-scoring potential this afternoon we did see glimpses of some very neat hold up play as well as a few nice interchanges.
Byron Moore, ST – 6
A particularly quiet performance from the Argyle front man saw the forward see little in terms of goal scoring opportunities but like Jepchott he demonstrated some neat hold up play alongside a collection of tidy passes.
Ryan Hardie, ST – 7
Two games, two goals. Hardie marked his Home Park debut with another goal as he chased a long ball down the line and subsequently squeezed it into the bottom right hand corner. A neat performance which was capped with a goal saw Hardie stake another claim for him to be implemented in the starting eleven against Stevenage.
Josh Grant, DM – 7
Grant was introduced midway through the second half in order to sure up the midfield and protect Argyle against the aerial battles they were loosing. The second half substitution of Andy Cook was causing problems and the introduction of the recently resigned Grant helped nullify his threat.
Joel Grant, ST – n/a
A late substitute.