This weekend, Plymouth Argyle’s unbeaten run came to an end with a disappointing 2-0 loss at Sunderland.
Kyle Letheren: 8 MOTM
Before being forced off with an unfortunate injury, Letheren continued his impressive run of form in the team. He made some excellent saves when needed including a one-vs-one effort in the first half. His kicking and decision making, generally his two weaker attributes were competent enough to earn him a high rating alongside the stops which kept the greens in the game.
Ashley Smith-Brown: 7
The right-back is another player who has been on well improved form going into the game and he kept it up with an impressive individual performance, in spite of the loss. He mostly held the defensive line very well and let next to nothing get down his side. Perhaps a slight cautiousness going forward prevented him from gaining a higher rating but he has certainly done well enough to keep his place in the side for the foreseeable future.
Ryan Edwards: 7
Another good performance was had from Argyle’s ‘steady Eddie’ who in truth was one of the players to thank for ensuring Sunderland only scored the two goals. It seems perverse to give so many defenders high ratings in a game where we conceded two goals and multiple chances but it was more down to lack of protection from the midfield than defensive inadequacy. Edwards’ marking and distribution was fine as well as his winning of headers and making saving challenges when he had to. Not perfect, but good.
Niall Canavan: 8
He generally had a pretty similar game to Edwards, but gets a higher rating due to being kept busier. Often in the first half, the left central midfield position was left unoccupied due to poor positioning by Yann Songo’o. This led to Sunderland generally targeting the left rather than the right and often forcing Canavan out to help Gary Sawyer. He kept composed in difficult circumstances and played the ball out fairly well.
Gary Sawyer: 7
The full-back didn’t appear at first glance to have a good first half, at all. On further inspection however, a large part of this could be put down to the aforementioned lack of midfield protection. The second half change of shape enabled Argyle’s veteran to have a much better 45 minutes. His overlapping runs of seasons before (rarely seen this year) made a comeback and he really should have scored in the second half but for what looked like a pretty blatant handball to deny him a goal.
David Fox: 4
In truth, it was not really the best game for the midfield man whose lack of pace and energy was exposed on countless occasions. He was often not able to keep up with Sunderland’s midfield runners, allowing a fair few chances to be created. His passing, usually his redeeming feature if all else fails, was also fast from its best, though this could be partly down to lack of movement ahead of him.
Yann Songo’o: 3
Whilst Fox was poor, he was not the most culpable on the pitch for lack of defensive acumen leading to chances conceded. Songo’o, full of passion and energy as always, was exposed positionally time and time again in the first half, and allowed Lee Cattermole of all people to twice get a run on him into the box. He was consistently 5 to 10 yards higher up the pitch than his midfield partner Oscar Threlkeld, as well as being arguably too central. This left a gaping hole down whichever side of the pitch he was on at the time which Sunderland often exploited in the first-half. His distribution was as below par as ever.
Oscar Threlkeld: 5
In the first half he was largely off the pace, though not helped by Songo’o’s wanderings. He picked up a little in the second half when he was moved out right in a 4-2-3-1 formation but even then he was imperfect. His decision making was often flawed and he missed two good chances to score a goal within a 30 second period. He can perhaps be cut some slack due to the length of his spell without a start, but it was far from a perfect performance.
Graham Carey: 6
Carey was at fault for the first goal, primarily, after a serious bout of what can only reasonably be described as ‘faffing around with it’ in his own penalty area resulted in the ball being given away before being set up for Lee Cattermole. He flattered to deceive for much of. The first half, but did improve in the second during Argyle’s hot spell.
Ruben Lameiras: 6
The Portugese attacker had a surprisingly similar game to his Irish counterpart, actually. He too made an error in his own box, underhitting a backpass to Kyle Letheren that also put Argyle in serious danger. He too brightened up in the second half, showing more signs that he might create something from his ’native’ central attacking midfield position, but ultimately the end product was not quite there.
Freddie Ladapo: 4
Ladapo certainly is a player who can tear the lower reaches of League One apart in games when Argyle are on the front foot, with his searing pace and intelligent runs into space. However, in games like this, when an ability to hold the ball up was needed, he was more a liability than an asset. His first touch with that of a pinball and he rarely gave the Sunderland defenders much of a physical competition, meaning the ball often went straight back to us whenever we tried a long pass out of defence.
Ryan Taylor: 5
For all the criticism of Ladapo, Taylor was the game was in theory more suited to was not a whole lot better. He won the odd header but did not link play together like the Taylor of old. However, this wasn’t helped by the unusual 4-2-2-2 formation that Argyle switched to which was suboptimal due to the lack of runners available to get onto the end of his flick ons.