Plymouth Argyle completed their pre season preparations ahead of their League One opener away to Rotherham United next weekend, with a comfortable 3-0 win over Devon rivals Torquay United.
Goals from Niall Ennis and Panutche Camara just before half time were complimented by a Ryan Hardie strike as the game reached the latter stages. These goals were enough to see off the National League outfit, in a very professional performance from the greens.
So, how did the players fare and what can it tell us about how Argyle may look to lineup in Yorkshire next Saturday?
Callum Burton, GK – 5
Burton was able to get some much needed minutes under his belt, starting ahead of number one Michael Cooper this time out.
After completing a move from newly promoted Cambridge United earlier in the window, Burton was able to register appearances against local sides Plymouth Parkway and Saltash United and League Two side Bristol Rovers, before injury seemed to keep him out of the next three games at Home Park against Championship opposition.
In truth, Burton’s performance was adequate. He did not have a lot to do, as Argyle managed to control most of the game in his time on the pitch.
The few times his handling was tested he coped with it well, but ultimately it was all routine work for Burton. That would indicate an average score of 6 – largely untested but no outstanding mistakes.
Where Burton does get marked down for though is his distribution which for most of the afternoon apart from a few short passes seemed rushed and inaccurate, even under minimal pressure.
Now, whilst that judgement could be viewed as harsh, I feel that Lowe’s preferred style requires his defence and goalkeeper to start attacks by attempting to play through the press.
If Burton wants to seriously challenge Michael Cooper at points this season, the technical side of his game may need to be more refined.
Ollie Tomlinson, RCB – 6
No complaints can be made about the performance of Tomlinson this afternoon, he fitted in well to the defensive unit and did well to snuff out any danger.
He may have been forgiven for some shows of inexperience, particularly against more experienced physical players, with a direct style but he stood up to the challenge with relative ease.
Dan Scarr, CB – 6
Much like Tomlinson, Scarr dealt with what he was asked to and continued to showcase his ability as shown over pre season. He iis strong in the air and makes the right decisions defensively. This might seem like something you expect a defender to do. But, after conceding so many needless goals through lack of experience and positional awareness in the back line last season, the performances of Scarr since his arrival at Argyle seem like a breath of fresh air.
Macaulay Gillesphey, CB – 8
The most impressive of the defenders, this was an excellent performance from Gillesphey, who was good in the air despite being the shortest of the back three and displayed real intent and accuracy with the ball at his feet. He was continually finding pockets of space for his midfielders to receive on the turn. If pre season is anything to go by, Gillesphey’s progressive passing looks like it could be a real asset to Argyle this season.
Adam Randell, DM – 9 MOTM
Randell continues to excel in every game I see him play, growing in confidence every time. On his return to the club where he became a fans favourite last season, Randell was calm, composed and positive on the ball, offering himself constantly and even pulling out the odd piece of skill to get away from his marker.
That might be a part of his game that we come to expect over the next 9 months, but you would be forgiven for thinking that his defensive ability might come in to question at times this season as a result of inexperience and the open system that Argyle play.
Now, whilst it still might, today Randell and fellow midfielder Panutche Camara did an excellent job at shutting down any potential attacks with good high pressing and snappy tackles.
Based on pre season, I really think Randell could push fellow midfielder Jordan Houghton all the way for that single pivot role. All being well, looks to have a really exciting season ahead of him.
Joe Edwards, RWB – 6
It was a. typically solid performance from Edwards. The skipper was fine defensively and some really good thrusting runs going forward. The captain once again looks like he could play an important part in any success Argyle do have this season. Overall, a pretty quiet performance from Edwards on Saturday Afternoon though where he didn’t quite impose himself on the game.
Panutche Camara, CM – 8
A strong performance from Camara in this one. At his best, there don’t seem many players around this level that can stop him. He combined the aforementioned tenacious pressing and tackling in tandem with Adam Randell, with strong running to break away from the Torquay midfield, and, whilst unremarkable, his passing seemed to pick out the right options.
He also did well to get in the box to finish after a shot from Luke Jephcott was pushed out by Torquay keeper Halstead for Argyle’s second just before halftime.
If Camara can manage to combine his best attributes more consistently as shown today, this season he could prove to be a real force in the midfield this season.
Ryan Broom, CM – 8
An exciting first appearance from Broom after he was confirmed to have joined on a season long loan from Peterborough on Tuesday.
Broom seemed to gel pretty well with his new teammates and seemed hungry to make an impression on his new boss, with runs forward and some good switches of play in particular. Furthermore, he was unlucky not to put Argyle in front midway through the first half with a shot that whistled over the bar.
Capable of playing in either a CM or RWB role, I am looking forward to seeing more of what Broom can offer in the coming weeks.
It is also worth noting that strong performances from Broom could provide some stiff competition for fellow attacking midfielder Danny Mayor, which seems to be something that Mayor has often lacked since his arrival at the club.
Ryan Law, LWB – 5
Law has had some bright cameos, particularly going forward in this pre season but today he was sloppy, particularly in the early stages when he gave the ball away in quick succession in the defensive third.
He did make some good runs forward, but his end product was often lacking and he failed to make much of an impact on the game.
Luke Jephcott , ST – 5
This seems to be a reoccurring theme when talking about the performances of Jephcott over recent months. He was again largely ineffective (although his shot did lead to the second goal) and failed to really cause any threat to the Torquay defence. After a first full season in professional football ended in 18 goals last year ended with 20 games without scoring, Jephcott seems currently devoid of any confidence, understandable given his current run of form and just one open play goal in pre season – against Plymouth Parkway.
It would be wrong not to be slightly concerned about Jephcott’s form, but I do feel he is currently trying to make up for his lack of goals by getting involved in other areas of the game, which negates his one trait which separates him from others at the club – first time finishes in the box.
If he can get back to remembering what he is best at, I feel that we could very quickly forget about this period of form.
Niall Ennis, ST – 8
Another bright performance from Ennis who was willing to hold the ball up and also is able to run at the defence, causing confusion.
This was demonstrated with the opening goal on forty two minutes, when he was able to pick the ball up and run across the Torquay defence before unleashing a terrific shot into the bottom left corner.
Along with fellow striker Ryan Hardie, Ennis has had a really good pre season, whilst, like Hardie often lacking the finish to go with his overall performance. If he can begin to take more of the chances that come his way I don’t see why Ennis can’t at least reach the ten goal mark this season.
Michael Cooper, GK – 6
Came on with half an hour to go for Callum Burton, and was required to make some more saves as the game drew to a close, as legs tired and substitutions disrupted the flow of the game.
Every shot that Cooper faced he held onto well, but he did for the second time in a week miss a punch from a cross, last week it resulted in a penalty and this week a bit of a goalmouth scramble. Not too much of a concern but it will be something that Cooper will need to tighten up on going into the season.
James Wilson, CB n\a
Came on for the last 20 minutes in and played in the middle of defence, nothing much of note to say but no dramas and helped the young duo of Brandon Pursall and Ethan Mitchell settle in for the last ten minutes.
Brandon Pursall, CB n\a
As stated above Pursall came on alongside fellow academy product Ethan Mitchell for the last ten minutes, nothing much to note.
Ethan Mitchell, CB n/a
Same as above.
Jordan Houghton, DM – 6
Houghton came on with just under 25 minutes to go, some good passes and some sloppy ones, no dramas but no stand out moments either.
Now maybe i’m forgetting some moments, given the excellence of starting DM Adam Randell, but whilst many people would’ve expected Houghton to start the season when he came in, due to Randall’s performances over pre season I think it is far from a certainty that Houghton starts on Saturday.
Brendan Galloway, LWB – 6
Came on at the same time as Houghton, Galloway has played in both the left sided centre back role and wing back role this pre season and has defended adequately in both.
Same today – good in defence, didn’t offer too much going forward.
Danny Mayor, CM – 7
Danny mayor was his usual just above average when he came on, when he squared them up torquay’s defenders could barely touch him and had two shots, one that bent over the bar and another coming when he went past most of the team on a brilliant solo run and carried it into the box, before taking the shot a bit too late to allow the goalkeeper to make the save.
Now whilst that might sound like all positives, which they are for most players, we know Mayor can do that but it is almost always the end product which lets him down.
Finley Craske, RWB – n\a
I’m not going to give Craske a rating just because he spent under 15 minutes on the pitch. But I was pleased with what I saw, he was direct in his running and this meant he got down the byline a couple of times, including for the third goal in which he was the assister. Craske did really well to get down the right before fizzing a low cross into Ryan Hardie, before the striker took a touch, turned and finished into the bottom corner. Promising cameo.
Ryan Hardie, ST – 7
Came on at 57 minutes, and made an impact. These are the kind of games that best suit Hardie, when legs are tiring and he is able to get at the defence and run in behind them. Got his goal as mentioned above which was well taken – Could’ve had one more wen through at the end but took to many touches and the chance was snuffed out.
Like Ennis, overall Hardie has had a positive pre season often without a goal to show for it, but if any of the three senior strikers could start taking chances more consistently, it could see Argyle fly up the table.
For me, performances over pre season put Hardie and Ennis in prime position to start against Rotherham.
Rhys Shirley, ST n\a
Shirley was a bright spark when coming on, despite only being on for the last ten minutes, Shirley provided some excitement, with nice turns away from his marker and eagerness to get shots off.
I still think being so young and with work to do on the physical side of the game, a loan would benefit Shirley this season. That said, if pre season is anything to go on on there are definitely reasons to be hopeful about the striker.