Plymouth Argyle raked up yet another win at Home Park this afternoon as they saw off Walsall 3-0 and climbed up to second in the League Two table. With Darrell Clarke at the helm of the Saddler’s ship, the League Two outfit were likely to be tough opposition, and yet Argyle brushed them aside with ease.
Alex Palmer, GK – 7
Palmer continued his rich vein of form between the sticks whilst collecting his 3rd clean sheet of the season. Palmer was left relatively untested during the first half but continued to impress despite the lack of threat provided by Walsall.
An strong, physical side, Walsall saw little joy as the confident Palmer and co snuffed out the majority of danger that came their way. He almost managed to contribute in the final third as a long forward punt found Ryan Taylor – courtesy of some utterly dreadful defending – resulting in the ball hitting the back of the net. Assist #1 for Palmer this year.
Scott Wootton, CB – 7
Another clean sheet to the former United defender has seen Wootton receive some plaudits for his improvement in performances. He has certainly made an impression when it comes to contributing on the attack. A great example was when the right-third of the defensive trio ventured forward and headed on-target from Riley’s cross.
In terms of defending, Wootton has proven to be a valuable asset, with his aerial presence improving significantly, even against the tricky Adebayo.
Niall Canavan, CB – 7
Canavan has been a less noticed member of the back 3 during the opening of the season but has arguably been the most important of the three. With the forward movement of his two centre back colleagues he is often left to defend on his own.
Naturally this brings alarm bells, but Canavan’s aerial dominance has proven to be invaluable in an aerially weak backline. Walsall forward Adebayo could have easily sprung a counter attack on Argyle but was frequently denied this opportunity by the superior Irishman.
Gary Sawyer, CB – 7
Argyle skipper Sawyer continued his stay in the backline with another steady performance. He controlled the threat of the lively Gordan well and prevented the Walsall from getting a look in due to his strong positional play. Although the veteran left fans biting their nails at times, overall it was a good performance from the skipper. The persistent second-half pressure did not faze him as he showed his experience by nullifying the oppositions threat.
Joe Edwards, CDM – 8
Edwards got one over his former team today as he demonstrated exactly what Clarke and his team were lacking. A calm head and a man to be trusted, Edwards was frequently available to bail out people of danger. He also demonstrated some neat long passing on a handful of occasions which stretched the game well.
Despite all this praise, it doesn’t stop there as Edwards shielded the defensive well – and not for the first time. His influence showed when he moved to wing-back to cover for the injured Joe Riley. That calm head in front of the defence was gone and the long period of Walsall pressure began. Although nothing came from this, it was clear to see how effective he is in that defensive-midfield role.
Joe Riley, RWB – 6
Riley’s afternoon was cut short after a fall to deck saw him gingerly walk off the pitch cradling his arm. Despite this, Riley showed no sign of weakness in the defensive department as he continued to snuff out any type of Walsall threat. However, on the flip side the wing-back showed little threat in the terms of end product during his afternoons work.
His crosses found their man more than often, but it says a lot that while McFadzean has three goals and two assists after six starts, Riley has none, though he does deserve at least one. A common trend in the life of Riley has been excellent play to reach the threatening position but little end product to show for it. He also continued to play too wide, while McFadzean makes intelligent bursts inside from the other wing.
Conor Grant, CM – 7
Grant has come on leaps and bounds since his first appearance in green and the signing of Danny Mayor appears to have enabled that. The former Everton man often makes mazy runs and drives towards the opposition defence, very much like Mayor, though he is far from mastering the art of skipping past challenges.
He also links up well with his team mates, as his technical ability allows him to effectively pick out his man. Grant is a key component when it comes to supplying Riley on the wing. If only the wing-back could make the same penetrative runs as McFadzean on his opposite flank.
Danny Mayor, CM – 8
A league above most on the pitch as always and he continued to show why he had potential suitors of higher league stature.
Mayor’s trademark dribbles wreaked havoc all afternoon and the only way to stop him was to simply foul him. An expertly placed ball to a goal-bound Antoni Sarcevic saw him collect an assist for his efforts. A vital piece of Ryan Lowe’s jigsaw and with too much to describe there is simply only one word to describe his performance. Superb.
Callum McFadzean, LWB – 7
Another electric performance from the former Bury man saw the wing-back accumulate gather an excellent assist. A low cross into the area saw Argyle forward Ryan Taylor poke it home from yards out. He later struck the post during the second half as a venomous strike catapulted straight of the woodwork.
McFadzean also showed his worth on the defensive side of things as he too stayed strong during the period of Walsall pressure, frequently winning headers against people of greater height.
Dominic Telford, ST – 6
A very lively start from Tuesday’s hero, but his afternoon was unfortunately cut short after he pulled up with a pulled hamstring when played through on goal. Despite this, Telford showed his qualities during his short cameo. The lively forward caused Walsall’s defence numerous problems as his quick turn of pace and superb control. A bitter shame for him to have to go off and hopefully he’ll be back soon.
Ryan Taylor, ST – 9, player of the match
Despite the midweek grumblings of Taylor’s Tuesday night performance, the forward put the doubters behind him and bagged two on a day which saw him collect his first brace since October 2015. Taylor’s aerial dominance was strong as always but the number 9 added a goal-scoring dimension to his game today.
With the striker spending more time facing goal – instead of having his back to it – and playing on the shoulder at times, the forward caused numerous problems as Walsall struggled to cope with his physical presence. His first goal of the afternoon came after an excellent low cross found him at the front post, which he dispatched expertly after running across goal – exactly what he needs to be doing to score in this team.
His second of the day came after a goal-kick – and a dreadful piece of defending to miss a simple defensive header – found Taylor clean through. He then smashed the ball home from inside the area much to the joy of the Green Army.
Zak Rudden, ST – 7
Ranger’s forward Rudden made his Plymouth Argyle debut earlier than expected following Telford’s injury and he made a good impression. A work horse and a nuisance in the air, Rudden kept the Walsall back line on their toes all afternoon as he pestered them, frequently preventing them from a moments peace.
Jose Baxter, CDM – 6
Baxter took to the pitch during the second half as he was deployed to replace an injured Joe Riley, sliding into defensive midfield while Edwards switched to the right.
Baxter grew into the game as it progressed, with the midfielder’s positional awareness improving as the minutes passed. This allowed him – and Argyle – to take a stronger grip on the game, with his short passing limiting the Walsall threat.
Antoni Sarcevic, CM – 7
Well… A brief cameo from Sarcevic saw him expertly dispatch a strike shortly after he came onto the pitch, following an excellent attacking run; trademark Sarcevic, but for once he had the finish to go with it! He was then sent off 3 minutes later for an alleged out of control tackle and will miss the next three matches.
The goal scoring form of Sarcevic has dramatically improved since the Lowe era has begun with the midfielder finishing chances we would have expected him to squander in the past. Long may that continue!