Final Whistle: A Transfer Window Assessment

With the January transfer window finally concluded there was certainly a deflated feeling amongst the Plymouth Argyle fan base as deadline day saw two departures and just the one incoming.

Additions wise, the club have brought in players in the key areas that they needed, most importantly in Remi Matthews who is with little doubt the best goalkeeper at the club currently. His heroics have earned Argyle points on numerous occasions this season and with the likely departure of Angus Gunn following his return to Manchester City at the end of the season, many Norwich fans are expecting Matthews to be their number one in the Championship next season.

Loanees Zak Vyner (defender) and Moses Masaki (midfielder) from Bristol City and West Ham are a different kettle of fish entirely with little known about what to expect from the pair. Vyner arrives with a good reputation from City manager Lee Johnson are Argyle once again utilise their connections with the Championship club after previously taking Joe Bryan, Bobby Reid and Paul Garita in recent seasons. Aside from the one appearance with City, he also featured 16 times for Accrington last season in League Two. We have seen little of the 20-year-old who has made just one appearance in the 3-1 loss against Wigan whilst missing the 2-1 victory over Oldham with illness. With fellow defender Ryan Edwards sadly being diagnosed with testicular cancer, it was vital that another central defender was brought in whilst Yann Songo’o can also deputise which provides depth in that position.

Masaki is yet to play a competitive league fixture but will be expected to slot in and has been described as a similar player to the departed Toumani Diagouraga. His lack of experience makes him a gamble with just Checkatrade and reserve team football on his CV at West Ham at 22-years-old. With other clubs bringing in more seasoned players and paying transfer fees it once again demonstrates Argyle’s frailties financially compared to other clubs in League One. Fellow Hammer and forward Toni Martinez was also a rumoured target during the window but it appeared that the Spaniard wasn’t keen on a move to Devon.

Adams finally got his man in Simon Church with the Welshman turning the club down earlier in the season in favour of fellow league side Scunthorpe. With gametime limited at Glanford Park he left upon the end of his short-term deal which allowed him a move to Home Park. With a poor goalscoring record he needs to kick-start his career once more and will no doubt play second fiddle to Ryan Taylor. With Church and the returning Alex Fletcher, the duo will provide back-up and options as the season winds to a close.

With the exception of midfielder Diagouraga very few could argue with the departures we have seen at Home Park over the last month. The former Leeds man proved to be a catalyst in Argyle’s upturn in form following his arrival in October and with his presence in the side, Derek Adams’ side lost just twice in the 15 league appearances he made, those being against Oxford and Portsmouth. The 30-year-old provided the no-nonsense style that the midfield sorely needed and as his confidence and fitness grew, so did Argyle’s as their goalscoring problems subsided  as the 4-1 win over Oldham and 3-0 win over Bury both showed. These were also games Diagouraga scored in and whilst many might criticise the club for only handing him a three month deal, it was clearly a deal that suited both parties at the time. The Frenchman was looking to regain fitness following failure to join another Championship/ high-end League One side following his release from Leeds and Argyle, rock bottom of the league needed a capable player who wouldn’t demand too high a wage. The deal provided Diagouraga with a chance to earn fitness and enhance his reputation whilst it gave the club a cheap gamble on a player who may or may not be the difference in our season.

Other departures made more sense, particularly with wide-man/ forward Jake Jervis. Although a loyal servant during his three years at the club it became clear that the former Birmingham man wasn’t the best fit for our squad in League One. Whilst a quality and reliable scorer in League Two last season it often looked at times as though this division was possibly a cut above him as well as our system not suiting his style. With his likely departure following the end of his current deal in the summer it made perfect sense to allow him to leave with both Walsall and his eventual buyers Luton meeting his £125,000 release clause. Whilst it was disappointing that no replacement was brought in, the likes of Joel Grant and Lionel Ainsworth can provide cover in his position and of course, Adams will likely be looking actively across the free agents market.

The likes of Gregg Wylde, Nathan Blissett and Jakub Sokolik were examples of dead wood in the squad with the former two failing to prove themselves in the division and struggling for game time, something that was evident in that fellow League One sides didn’t take a gamble in taking either one loan and why they have ended up in League Two with lowly Morecambe and non-league high-flyers Macclesfield Town respectively. Whilst Wylde has a slight chance of returning should be prove himself and recapture some form as his quality is there, but he needs to perform consistently , it certainly looks to be the end for Blissett. Sokolik was a different matter. He performed well following his arrival last season and provided a reliable partnership with Sonny Bradley at centre-back. It looked likely that he would be fighting it out with Edwards for a place in the starting line-up, but instead following a supposed falling out with Adams just himself regularly on the bench or not in the matchday squad at all. At the end it made sense for both parties to release the Czech from his contract so that he was able to find another club.

To summarise, it wasn’t a fantastic transfer window but it was by no means tragic either. There is still the chance of further additions being made via the free agents market and we are covered in virtually every position on the pitch. Whilst it looks as though we certainly won’t be pushing ahead for the play-offs, it certainly doesn’t look as though we should be fearing relegation either. A mid-table finish is on the cards and after a decade of either fighting for promotion or fighting off relegation, perhaps an average season is exactly what it needed to stabilise the club.

Player Ratings: Blackpool v Plymouth Argyle

Remi Matthews – 7

Matthews was generally efficient on his return to Home Park and neither of the goals in the 2-2 draw can really be put down to him. The first was through a crowd of players when he was clearly unsighted, and for the second, once it has gone through the legs of Oscar Threlkeld, the ball is travelling at too rapid a pace for all but the highest level of goalkeeper to realistically save it. He generally showed a good command of area and good distribution throughout.

Oscar Threlkeld – 6

Threlkeld generally performed well throughout the game with good control of the ball under pressure as well as decision making that was greatly improved from his performance at Milton Keynes where he tended to overcommit too much. However, he tired by the end of the game and allowed Viv Solomon-Otabor to pick his spot (through his legs) rather than press early to attack the ball which resulted in Argyle losing three points right at the death.

Ryan Edwards – 7

Edwards was solid throughout, not at fault for either goal and his positional sense was rarely lacking. His distribution was generally good too, and he was one of the lesser culprits for merely clearing the ball up the pitch simply for it to be pinged straight back into the Argyle defensive area.

Sonny Bradley – 6

Like Edwards, he was a reliable presence defensively and rarely deviated from our good defensive shape. Where he was the weaker centre-back of the two is in his distribution. Some may say that the job of a centre-back is not to keep the ball – but when that ball keeps coming back too often from his own clearances (as is what happened in the second half) then that puts a mark against his performance.

Gary Sawyer – 5

Too often beaten for pace and trickery down the right-hand side, Sawyer did not have his best game at Bloomfield Road. Nor did he offer a great deal going forward. Perhaps a case of after the lord mayor’s show for the left-back following his monumental first goal at Milton Keynes on Boxing Day?

Yann Songo’o – 7. A largely sound game from the defensive central midfielder whose consistency this season after the unreliability and error-prone nature of last season’s Songo’o has been a joy to behold. Yann Songo’o has now replaced Durrell Berry as the benchmark for players who have shown a rapid and significant improvement during their time at Argyle.

David Fox – 6

This was undoubtedly a curates egg of a game for midfielder David Fox up against his former side. He did well what he always does well- keeping the ball in central midfield under pressure by slowing the game down just that fraction enough to frustrate opponents and picking out his teammates with a high level of accuracy. Where he failed is in the physical side of the game, not winning enough aerial or ground duals and losing energy midway through the second half. He also missed a chance that seemed easier to score at 2-1, heading against the post unmarked with the whole goal to aim for.

Diagouraga – 6

The talismanic midfielder kept the shape well in his new role as the most attacking of the central trio but you could tell that the exertions associated with the Christmas period were beginning to get to him more so than most players. He was not operating at peak fitness and seemed a little more sluggish than usual on the ball. Arguably, he should have been substituted rather than Ryan Taylor as the game drew to a close.

Ruben Lameiras – 5

An awkward one, this. The Portuguese attacker managed to score a goal (his first for the club) which automatically bumps his rating up slightly but had a poor game apart from this. Most of his other ventures into the Blackpool final third showed little end product. His defending also had a lot to answer for, frequently leaving his full-back exposed.

Graham Carey – 7 – MOTM

Carey tired towards the end (as they all did) but he was still Argyle’s best player with a very efficient performance notwithstanding a goal that will leave etched in the memories of all Argyle fans who witnessed it forevermore. The levels of skill and audacity combined that were required to take the shot on from such a tricky angle and to land it in the net were extraordinarily high. Too high for most players to meet- most players aren’t Graham Carey.

Ryan Taylor – 7

Another good performance up front from the big striker who has turned Argyle’s form around with what has been comfortably promotion-winning form since he has come back into the side. As long as he remains fit for a season, shrugging off defenders and linking up the play, surely Argyle will be fine this season. We suffered greatly when he was substituted, losing someone who had the ability to make the ball ‘stick’ up front meant it simply kept coming back to us resulting in the heartbreaking late goal.

 

Joel Grant – 7

Grant came on as a substitute for Ruben Lameiras and had an encouraging cameo, always looking to break forward and try to create an opportunity.

Jake Jervis – 6

Another mostly-accomplished performance off the bench from the wide forward, holding off defenders and working well with Taylor. However, he did fade once the latter was subbed off.

Antoni Sarcevic – 4

Sarcevic has been a good player for Argyle at times and still has a role to play with the club, but there can be no defending his cameo from the bench today. His distribution was ineffectual and looked languid at a time when Blackpool were piling on the pressure. Also, he completely scuffed his shot at a clear goal allowing it to be blocked by a home defender when their keeper was some way off his line.

Player Ratings: Plymouth Argyle v Oldham

Kelle Roos – 7

A good performance from the on-loan Derby County man, making some good saves and commanding his back four very well – did miss a cross in first half stoppage time which went unpunished, however.

Oscar Threlkeld – 6

Seemed off the pace of the game in the first half, which is understandable given it was the former Bolton mans’ first league start since the 7th of October; gradually grew into the game though and linked up well with others during the second half – particularly Lameiras down the right hand side.

Ryan Edwards – 8

Probably one of the best performances I’ve seen from Edwards in an Argyle shirt, he was assured, dominant and capped off his display with a pivotal and well-taken third goal. Impressive.

Sonny Bradley – 7

A typically good performance from Sonny, who seems to be forging a formidable partnership with goalscorer Ryan Edwards; Bradley won the majority of his headers and with the rest of the back four dealt with the second half aerial barrage from Oldham, after the introduction of Aaron Holloway, well.

Gary Sawyer – 8 (MOTM)

Like Edwards, this was probably one of the best performances I’ve seen from Sawyer this season as well. Argyle’s Mr. Reliable had to be patient but committed when dealing with Oldham’s right winger in the first half who could’ve had a lot of joy if it wasn’t for Sawyer restricting him; Sawyer was also very competent in his attacking play, linking up with others well down the left flank.

Yann Songo’o – 7

A standard display from Argyle’s number 4, who exhibited all of the sterling qualities which has seen him become a figurehead in Argyle’s recent revival in League One.

Toumani Diagouraga – 8

Sign him on. Diagouraga was once again superb for Argyle against Oldham, a performance which began with a very well-taken second goal in as many home games, and from there the former Leeds man contributed well at the other end of the pitch, as he helped nullify Oldham’s attacking threat, through the midfield, superbly.

David Fox – 7

Another strong performance from Fox, who played the game with his typical swagger and technical prowess, and played a stunning ball for Argyle’s second goal, before being substituted late on for youth debutant Cameron Sangster.

Ruben Lameiras – 8

. There has been much speculation regarding the future of Lameiras in recent weeks, with the tricky winger being pictured playing for Oldham Athletic, strangely enough, in a game against Derby; however Lameiras has reportedly said he wants to fight for a place at Argyle, and proved that in yesterday’s performance as his quick feet and low centre of gravity coming in off the wing caused Oldham all sorts of problems – definitely put his name in the selection hat.

Graham Carey – 8

We’ve come to expect brilliance from Carey, and his goal yesterday was nothing short of that – a stunning chip; the Irishman also assisted Argyle’s third with a well placed free kick before being substituted late on for Joel Grant.

Ryan Taylor – 7

The recent run of 7 points from 9 can be put down to many factors, including the return of Ryan Taylor to Argyle’s starting 11 – the striker proved his worth to the Greens yesterday, holding the ball up very well and bringing others into play, as well as assisting Argyle’s fourth goal which sealed the win.

Jake Jervis – 7

Perhaps a surprise absentee from the starting side, but nine seconds is all it took for Jervis to make his impact on the game from the bench, as he latched onto Ryan Taylor’s header with a well-timed finish to seal the game and ensure Argyle spend Christmas outside of the League One relegation zone.

Joel Grant – N/A

The former Exeter City winger was a late sub for Graham Carey as Adams looked to see out the game.

Cameron Sangster – N/A

A player held in very high regard by Derek Adams, Sangster made his long awaited professional debut yesterday, as a late replacement for David Fox.

Player Ratings – Rotherham v Plymouth Argyle

Player Ratings

Kelle Roos 7

With Rotherham reduced to 10 men in the opening stages of the second half, Roos was not troubled too much, however he made a few great saves in the first half of his second appearance for the greens having joined on an emergency loan from Derby County.

Gary Sawyer 6

Sawyer had a couple of chances to score his first goal for Argyle since 2009 with a shot which was comfortably saved and a deflected header. One improvement Saw

Ryan Edwards 6

The defence was solid throughout the game and once the sending off for the home side occurred Argyle were able to exploit the free space and used the ball very well.

Sonny Bradley 6

As we’ve seen time and time again, Bradley’s ariel threat caused Rotherham problems throughout the match with multiple free-kicks and corners going his way.

Aaron Taylor Sinclair 7

ATS really is improving game on game, against Rotherham he was very assured on the ball, he took care of his defensive responsibilities well. However, he was kept relatively quiet as Rotherham chose to attack down the other flank.

Toumani Diagouraga 8 (MOTM)

Diagouraga once again produced an excellent performance in the heart of midfield alongside Fox. The one improvement that has been noticeable in the last two games is that Argyle are playing the ball along the ground much more rather hoofing it from defence straight up to the striker. This style of play better suits the current squad..

David Fox 7

Fox once again was immense in midfield partnering up well with Diagouraga. He picked the ball up and distributed it well from the defensive players to the attacking ones. Fox may not get 9/10 ratings often but is consistently a 7/10 and rarely has a poor game.

Graham Carey 6

From the sending off Carey was able to create many chances from set pieces and open play and was able to run into the free space created by the missing Rotherham player. The only thing I would have liked to have seen is for him to speed up the play more. If they did this, there would have been more space and perhaps more goal scoring opportunities.

Jake Jervis 4

Jervis had one of his off games for the Pilgrims having notably been consistent throughout the season. The number 14 could not get into the game and was substituted by Adams with twenty minutes to go.

Ryan Taylor 7

On his second appearance since breaking his ankle in the season curtain-raiser against Peterborough, Taylor scored the opener in the game on Saturday. With his overall good performance, there is still improvement to be made in his fitness with Fletcher taking his place towards the end of the match. Taylor stated in his post-match interview that he was disappointed with his performance however he took his chance well for the goal which is what Argyle have been lacking upfront of late.

Joel Grant 6

Joel Grant played well on the wing however he got more into the game following the sending off. Paradoxically, the red meant Argyle needed pace down the wing to exploit the defensive weaknesses and he was nonetheless replaced with Gregg Wylde.

Lionel Ainsworth (for Jake Jervis) 6

Ainsworth played well after coming on for Jake Jervis and got another assist after delivering the ball to Taylor for the headed goal. Ainsworth had an assist against Bradford and now with another one at the weekend he must surely be giving Adams a selection dilemma.

Alex Fletcher (for Ryan Taylor) 4

Fletcher has been an un-used substitute for the last few games, and was introduced late on during the game, he didn’t get to show the travelling Argyle fans any of his attacking capabilities, however for Rotherhams equaliser his defence was questionable when he had a chance to clear the ball before it was put into Kelle Roos’ net.

Gregg Wylde (for Joel Grant) 4

Having spent the majority of the season on the bench Wylde adapted well to the pace of the game and looked to get hold of the ball whenever he could. With the January transfer window nearing all players who haven’t been in the starting 11 may be looking to attract the attention of another manager, Wylde may fall into this category.

Player Ratings: Portsmouth v Plymouth Argyle

Remi MATTHEWS: 5

An uncharacteristic howler from the Norwich loanee who has impressed massively during his time at Home Park so far cost Argyle dearly. ‘Unfortunately’, when a goalkeeper makes a big mistake, it can sometimes cost the team a game rather more so than in other positions. Matthews’ error in dealing with a long ball ended up doing so here.

Gary SAWYER: 6

A standard performance from Sawyer, who coped with most things thrown at him with his typical style in his 200th game for Argyle. His solidity of performance was on show, demonstrating that whilst he may not always be the man to shine he is rarely the man to have a blooper.

Sonny BRADLEY: 6

Bradley’s rating would be higher if not for his involvement in Portsmouth’s goal, where he could have intervened in stopping Kal Naismith from poking home. Apart from that, Bradley coped well with Naismith who was relatively quiet for the majority of the match and was a figurehead for much of Argyle’s attacking threat towards the latter end of the match.

Yann SONGO’O: 6

A typically solid performance from Songo’o who, partnered with Bradley, coped well with a lot of what Portsmouth were able to throw at them.

Aaron TAYLOR-SINCLAIR: 8 – MAN OF THE MATCH

If you had told me in July that Aaron Taylor-Sinclair would be Plymouth Argyle’s best player in this fixture I’d have called you insane. His pre-season performances coupled with his horror show at Bristol City in the league cup did not bode well. However, that is exactly what he was: confident on the ball, extremely competent defensively, and was always looking for a way to progress play forward – a very good performance from the 26 year old.

David FOX: 6

An impressive first half performance from Fox, who read the game well and made a significant amount of Argyle’s interceptions. Typically of Fox however, in the second half he began to run out of steam, and ended up being overran by the impressive Danny Rose and later on Stuart O’Keefe in midfield.

Antoni SARCEVIC: 5

After a very good performance from Sarcevic on Tuesday, he was constantly off the pace at Fratton Park this afternoon. He looked very weak and bizarrely appeared to lack his normal technical ability. A particular example was a moment both he and Jervis participated in a game of head tennis during the first half, instead of one of them actually bringing the ball under control.

Toumani DIAGOURAGA: 7

It’s another 7 for Diagouraga, who played his typical well-rounded game. He is always very imposing physically, yet it should also be noted that he is clever on the ball and never shies away from chasing down an opposition player.

Graham CAREY: 6

Just like he was against Oxford last week, Carey was double marked today and was nullified well by Pompey left back Brandon Haunstrup and the impressive Jamal Lowe when he tracked back. Saying that, when given the freedom to attack Carey still always looked capable of producing something, before his perhaps controversial withdrawal for Ruben Lameiras towards the end of the game.

Joel GRANT: 5

A pretty poor showing from the Jamaican, who lacked the confidence to really take on and take the game to the Pompey defenders, always looking for the safe and often negative option, mainly to ATS. Having said that, he did link up well with Taylor-Sinclair on a few occasions on the left hand side during the first half.

Jake JERVIS: 5

Typically of Jervis, he huffed and puffed but couldn’t quite blow the house down. There was no lack of effort from the former Pompey man who always looked to try to get behind the Blues defensive line, but an inability to win many aerial duels, shortage of clever movement off the ball and a lack of support from elsewhere meant he was ineffective for a large amount of the afternoon.

Substitutes:

Ruben LAMEIRAS: 5

Replaced Carey with 15 minutes to go. Typically of Lameiras he drifted through the game and had a chance near the end where he could have shot but spent too long lining it up.

Nadir CIFTCI: 5

A first Argyle appearance in some time for the Turk after he replaced Joel Grant just after the hour mark. He didn’t do too much in terms of having a direct impact on the match, although he did have a chance in stoppage time that he ended up rushing and skewing into the hands of Luke McGee where he could have taken a touch and lined up a better effort.

Lionel AINSWORTH: N/A

A late substitute for Antoni Sarcevic, the diminutive winger having nothing but a brief cameo for the second game in a row.

Player Ratings: Plymouth Argyle v Northampton

Remi MATTHEWS: 7

Although seemingly carrying a knock from Saturday, Matthews fully deserved his clean sheet. He commanded his box extremely well and kept Northampton at bay whenever their limited opportunities arrived.  Overall, it was a quiet night for the emergency goalkeeper, but one where he did all that he had to just fine.

Gary SAWYER: 7

Sawyer was back to his consistent and steady ways, putting in a solid performance at right-back. The Argyle number 3, predominantly left-sided, was barely tested in what was a strong performance from the entire of the back four.

Sonny BRADLEY: 8 – MAN OF THE MATCH

In what was a very good all-round team performance, towering centre-back Sonny Bradley was the pick of the bunch. It was an assertive performance from last season’s player of the year, who barely made an error in a solid centre-back partnership with Yann Songo’o. Sonny’s dominance in the air is again what earned his two goals and Argyle the three points on a fine night for the Greens.

Yann SONGO’O: 7

After an uncertain performance at central-defence on Saturday – albeit with ten men and scant midfield protection – Songo’o returned to the levels of performance that we saw throughout the six match unbeaten run. His ball-playing skills out of defence were particularly impressive, retaining ball possession for Argyle, while he often made strong interceptions as part of his aggressive style of play. A key figure in a very commanding back four on the night.

Aaron TAYLOR-SINCLAIR: 8

Left-back Aaron Taylor-Sinclair continues to impress the Home Park faithful with his steady, reliant and consistent performances. Taylor-Sinclair linked up well down the left-side with Joel Grant, causing the Northampton defence problems – particularly in the first period. Of particular value to Argyle was the way he stretched the play with his width, allowing other Argyle’s midfield more room in central areas.

David FOX: 8

Finally dropped back into his best position, the deep lying playmaker was back to his best tonight, keeping a superior Argyle midfield ticking over with his excellent use of the ball. Fox benefited from the space provided by the high energy duo of Sarcevic and Diagouraga, complimenting his midfield partners particularly well. Though e was helped by having two more energetic pressers in front of him but take nothing away – their presence simply enabled him to exert a greater influence over the match; his passing was first rate, as was his assist.

32 Toumani DIAGOURAGA: 7

Diagouraga again proved to be authoritative in the middle of the midfield, often supporting the side defensively, winning the ball back and setting up attacks for the Argyle front three. As a box-to-box midfielder, Diagouraga’s presence and work rate continues to have an important influence in Argyle’s upturn in form. With Sarcevic alongside him he even seems more confident going fowards and he was unfortunate not to get his first goal for Argyle but for an unlucky deflection.

Antoni SARCEVIC: 8

Sarcevic provided a different dimension to the midfield trio, adding energy and attacking support. On his return to the side due to the suspension of Ryan Edwards, the number 7 particularly impressed – leading the press in the midfield, gaining that extra ten yards of territory and allowing Argyle to dominate the game.

Graham CAREY: 7

Very influential in Argyle’s attacking play. Playing on the right side of a front three, Carey created many chances from crossing and set-piece deliveries as the Northampton defence struggled to deal with his skill and trickery. With Argyle’s midfield playing further up the pitch following the enforced tactical reshuffle, Carey found himself with more space and support, allowing him more opportunities to create for his teammates. Provided the cross into the box for Bradley’s second.

Jake JERVIS: 7

Jervis led the line well for Argyle, battling with Northampton’s central-defenders to retain the ball and set-up opportunities for teammates. His pace often caught Northampton out as he got in behind to unnerve the back four. Overall, a very good performance from Argyle’s current first choice striker – constantly improving and adapting to the lone striker role in the Derek Adams system.

Joel GRANT: 7

A direct, creative attacking outlet down the left-side with the support of Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, Grant showed good pace and strength on the ball to cause the Cobblers defence problems, especially in the first-half.

SUBSTITUTES

Alex Fletcher: N/A

A late substitute for Jake Jervis.

Lionel AINSWORTH: N/A

A late substitute for Graham Carey.

Player Ratings: Plymouth Argyle v Oxford

34 Remi MATTHEWS: 5

In what was a difficult game to be a goalkeeper, Matthews didn’t make many errors. However, the lack of support from his back four made it a busy afternoon for the Norwich loanee – conceding four in the process.

3 Gary SAWYER: 5

Often an assured and consistent figure in the Argyle squad, Sawyer was exposed in the second-half when moved to his natural left-back position after the withdrawal of Aaron Taylor-Sinclair at half-time, with most of Oxford’s dangerous attacking play coming down Argyle’s left.

15 Sonny BRADLEY: 5

Often the focal point of Argyle’s defence, Sonny Bradley had an extremely tough afternoon. Bradley struggled to deal with the pace of Oxford’s attackers, and was regularly retreating towards his own goal.

5 Ryan EDWARDS: 5

The right sider enjoyed a solid first 10 minutes at the centre of the Pilgrims defence, before a dubious, game-changing red card and penalty decision by referee Graham Horwood, after Edwards was adjudged to have committed a foul on Oxford’s lively forward Wes Thomas.

4 Yann SONGO’O: 4

After playing an important role in the heart of the Argyle midfield in the recent unbeaten run, Songo’o was moved back to central-defence following the dismissal of Ryan Edwards. Songo’o became reckless and frustrated in the latter stages of the game, earning his booking. The Cameroonian looks far more assured in a holding midfield role than the central-defensive role he fulfilled.

17 Aaron TAYLOR-SINCLAIR: 6

Left-back Aaron Taylor-Sinclair was one of the better Argyle performers of the day, before being substituted for Gary Miller at half-time. The Scotsman looked very steady in the first period, seemingly coming on leaps and bounds since his inconsistent introduction to the side.

24 David FOX: 5

The experienced midfielder unusually looked off the pace, in an Argyle midfield overran in the second-half by the man disadvantage. Fox was a shadow of his usual self, misplacing several passes in the little possession he had, particularly throughout the second-half.

32 Toumani DIAGOURAGA: 6

Although overran in the second-half by a dominant Oxford, Diagouraga showed some good touches and use of the ball. The centre mid covered a lot of ground and showed off an impressive work-rate, effectively running himself into the ground before his substitution on 74 minutes for Antoni Sarcevic.

10 Graham CAREY: 5

On return from suspension, usually-influential Carey was double-marked for much of the game. After a bright start, creating a few chances down the right-hand side and hitting the post from a free-kick, the Irishman quickly faded away, and with him went Argyle’s best chance of getting something from the game. Argyle failed to get the Irishman on the ball often enough to dictate their attacking play in the second-half.

14 Jake JERVIS: 6

Jervis, more suited to a wide position, fulfilled a very tough lone striker role well under the circumstances. His work rate was second-to-none, often chasing loose ends at the point of an Argyle attack which created very little, particularly in the second-half. Jervis must’ve had a notably frustrating afternoon, winning many knock-downs and duels with the Oxford central defenders which came to nothing. However, he missed Argyle’s best opportunity of the game just after the half-time break trailing 1-0, dragging a shot wide following a clever and quick free-kick from Fox.

16 Joel GRANT: 5

Grant didn’t look at his best on a miserable afternoon for Argyle. He appeared to be particularly lacklustre and struggled to get into the game, not making the most of the limited attacking opportunities he received, causing the Oxford defence few problems. Substituted on 64 minutes for Rúben Lameiras.

SUBSTITUTES

2 Gary MILLER: 3

It was a poor and sluggish performance from the Argyle right-back, looking a yard off the pace after a period out of the side. Miller came on as a half-time sub for Taylor-Sinclair and offered very little to Argyle’s attacking play. He was especially poor defensively; looking error-prone and often beaten very easily by Oxford’s attacking threats.

11 Reuben LAMIERAS: 6

Today used as a right-winger, he was sent on as Joel Grant’s replacement to offer a different dynamic to Argyle’s attacking play. Although he showed small signs of quality touches, Lameiras struggled to make a big impact on the game, at a point of the game in which Oxford were in full control.

7 Antoni SARCEVIC: 5

Sent on as a late substitute with the game, Sarcevic rarely touched the ball and couldn’t make an impact in an already-beaten Argyle side.