Another away outing leaving the Green Army unsatisfied, Plymouth Argyle returned from the County Ground with a point, which on the balance of things, may have been more than we deserved. Argyle showed a few flashes of brilliance in the second half, namely Joel Grant’s equaliser; but this was marred by a poor first-half display, and an unpleasant atmosphere surrounding the game, both on and off the field.
Alex Palmer, GK – 5
A quiet afternoon for Palmer, with only two shots at his goal being on target. His distribution, which seemed a strength of the on-loan stopper, seemed sub-par and I would have thought he could have done better for Swindon’s goal. Palmer seemed to go to ground very early. With the trajectory of the ball, had he stood up, he may have been better placed to stop a rather limp lofted effort.
Scott Wootton, CB – 4
I would not pin all the blame on the Argyle keeper, as Scott Wootton sold him up the river. A poor display again from Wootton, with numerous mistakes costing scoring chances, and Swindon’s eventual goal. For Eoin Doyle’s opener, he had completely lost the Swindon striker pushing too high up the pitch (albeit potentially covering a wayward Joe Riley), leaving Swindon’s Yates to thread a beautiful pass into the path of Doyle to make it 1-0. Another huge mistake came at 1-1, when Wootton used his chest to miscontrol a Jose Baxter pass, right into the path of a Swindon attacker, who went close to stealing all three points for the Robins.
Will Aimson, CB – 6
Aimson went off at half-time, assumed to be injury related (due to some surrounding spectators noting how he pulled up shaking his head and muttering at the end of a passage of play). Before that, he had a relatively solid game. His only real mistake, if you can call it that, was being caught ball-watching for Swindon’s goal. As Wootton’s man had come free, Aimson failed to notice the danger until the pass had been played and he’d turned fully, at which point it was far too late. Hopefully the injury isn’t too serious as he’s been one of the better central defenders for Argyle so far this season.
Gary Sawyer, CB – 7
Gary Sawyer looked the most comfortable of the three starting central defenders, and has adapted well to a central defensive role incredibly well after all the years he’s played at full-back. He defended well, tidying up loose possession and distributed with real conviction, working well with McFadzean and Edwards. He had little trouble and defended dependably as ever; the type of performance you’d expect from Sawyer.
Joe Edwards, CDM – 5
Edwards started off poorly, relinquishing possession a number of times early with poor misplaced passes. He started to get back into the game, and did his usual thing, for the remainder of his time in defensive midfield. Both teams seemed to try and play a counter-attacking brand of football and Edwards was moved over to the right hand side with the introduction of Jose Baxter, where he appeared to improve.
Baxter’s more creative abilities proved more useful in the middle of the park against a side who were happy to sit back and let us play. Edwards did better on the right as Argyle gained more of a foothold in the game, in the second half.
Joe Riley, RWB – 5
Joe Riley didn’t have a fantastic game, and was brought off fifteen minutes into the second half. He was completely AWOL for Swindon’s goal, finding himself so high up the pitch, setting off a chain reaction of mistakes and placing players such as Wootton and Aimson, leaving Doyle one-on-one with the goalkeeper. He didn’t do a whole lot else, and I think struggled to impact the game, and was rightly replaced early in the second half.
Antoni Sarcevic, CM – 6
Sarcevic was the pick of the midfield in a lacklustre performance from Argyle. He gave his usual energy and pressed well from midfield, winning back the ball on a number of occasions and pushing forward with good running. He had Argyles best chance for a winner late in the game: as the ball fell to him sweetly, he launched a thumping volley, blocked by a melee of Swindon players desperately trying to clear their lines.
Danny Mayor, CM – 5
Danny Mayor seemed like the only player trying to make things happen in the first half, where Argyle really struggled. He found himself in a fantastic position early on, where many would have wished him to shoot, having scored many from those positions in campaigns previous. However he made an excellent read and passed it across to Rudden who really has to do better from there.
He fizzled out in the second half, and lost possession a number of times, which must have frustrated him. He had a completely headless moment when he grabbed at the goalkeeper while he was playing the ball from his hands, and was lucky to only escape with a yellow. Argyle will have to deal without him anyway in the next fixture, as he is now suspended with that completely pointless yellow.
Callum McFadzean, LWB – 5
Another player who I believe brought about a forced change. I noticed McFadzean limping in the first half, and while he continued to play on, was brought off for George Cooper about twenty minutes before the end. He had a so-so performance, and didn’t do anything of note, especially as the game seemed to open up soon after after his departure and a cagey first half.
Swindon did seem to have their best chances early through the play of Lloyd Isgrove, before his switch to the left, and that came down McFadzeans flank. I do find that while his link-up play with Mayor is on the whole beneficial, it does seem to slow the play down, and allows oppositions to better set themselves, while we lost the initiative.
Zak Rudden, ST – 3
Let’s start with the positives; he did get into good positions to score twice. The negatives list is a lot longer. He squandered two golden chances in the first half which could have seen us home and dry early on, he lacked any real hold-up ability especially for a player of his size, and made needless fouls when he didn’t get the ball in those positions. He will get plaudits from some, as he puts himself about a bit, but there was no real quality there against Swindon, and I was surprised he stayed on for the full ninety minutes.
Joel Grant, ST – 6
Grant scored a very good goal, with some fantastic interplay between George Cooper and himself. He held the ball well, laid it off, made a fantastic darting run through the Swindon backline and finished very well. That’s about it really. Grant was near non-existent throughout the rest of the match, and while he didn’t do a whole lot wrong, you would have liked to have seen him get more involved, as his brief quality moment rescued a point from this game.
Niall Canavan, CB – 6
Niall Canavan came on at half time for Will Aimson, and seemed to steady the ship. Argyle looked more assured at the back following his introduction, bar a mistake from Scott Wootton, and Canavan himself looked composed as he showed why he should starting in the side every week.
Jose Baxter, CDM – 7
Jose Baxter was brought on as a more creative force in the middle of the park for Argyle and it worked. Argyle seemed to control the game much better with Baxter in the middle, and soon enough, Argyle got their equaliser. I feel that while Edwards is likely better suited to the defensive midfield role against teams that try and play football; with a team who are going to sit back, Baxter would be the better option due to his creativity and ability to unlock opposition defences.
George Cooper, LWB – 7
A masked George Cooper came on less than ten minutes after Baxter, and these two substitutes changed the game for Argyle. Passing seemed to significantly improve and it allowed us to pen back Swindon and gain a better foothold in the game. Cooper had a huge part in Grant’s equaliser, receiving a pass from Grant, pausing momentarily, and threading Grant through to send the Green Army behind the goal into hysterics. Cooper was a threat from the moment he came on, a positive influence trying to beat players and create chances that could lead to a winner; he has certainly given Ryan Lowe something to think about with next week’s team selection.