Player Ratings: Blackpool 2 Plymouth Argyle 2

Plymouth Argyle followed up their pressure-relieving win over Bristol Rovers last weekend, with a well earned 2-2 draw against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road. In the first half, which Argyle mostly dominated, they found themselves good value for their half-time lead after striker Ryan Hardie’ s twelve minute strike. Sloppiness in the second half allowed the home side to take the lead, first through attacking midfielder Sully Kaikai and then 16 goal top scorer Jerry Yates from the penalty spot after a foul from Argyle left back Adam Lewis. The Greens were able to stay in the game though, and were rewarded for their persistence as the clock moved into added time when captain Joe Edwards popped up with a well placed left footed volley to salvage a point.

It’s been a while but here are your player ratings!

Michael Cooper – 6

Despite conceding two goals it was a relatively uneventful afternoon for Cooper with the first half in particular leaving him with little to do in terms of goal-mouth action as Argyle dictated most of the play. The only real save of note in the first half coming from a well struck shot from outside the box by Blackpool midfielder Grant Ward. Cooper did well to push the effort behind but nonetheless was one that you would have expected him to save.

The goals were more as a result of defensive errors from others, although the harshest of critics could say he might have been able to hold on to Kaikai’s shot which led to the first goal. The second is self-explanatory and you are often left in hope rather than expectation from the penalty spot as the player steps up to face your goal-keeper.

Joe Edwards – 8 MOTM

Another excellent performance from Argyle’s captain, of which there have been many this season. Edwards seems to excel in whatever position he plays, this afternoon it was at right-back, where he started the previous game and he once again showed great positional sense, also influencing Argyle’s attack going forward with some typical thrusting runs in to the opposition half. Now in a slightly more withdrawn role than when at wing-back, he is less able to get crosses into the box, but was still able to give Argyle an extra attacking option going forward and ultimately used his well timed runs into the box to get a result for Argyle this afternoon.

His well placed volley was his seventh goal of the season and I think there is evidence to say that Edwards is up there with some of the best finishers at the club. He has been Mr Reliable for Argyle this season and should he carry on his form until the end of the season, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be considered in the club’s player of the season awards.

Sam Woods – 6

Woods deputised for the suspended Jerome Opoku after his two game ban against Bristol Rovers for his tenth yellow card of the season. Woods looked much more assured in the back four as his last start saw him sent off in the middle of a back three against Northampton Town. Defensively Woods was good regularly stepping out to take the ball off  Blackpool front man Jerry Yates and won most of the aerial duels that he faced. Although at times he looked a bit less comfortable with the ball at his feet, there can’t be too many complaints with his performance.

Will Aimson – 7

A relatively solid performance from Aimson today, as along with Woods, he dealt with much of the balls that came his way, often drawing pressure towards the ball before releasing into more space for the midfielders. There could be question marks with how he dealt with the second goal for Blackpool but sometimes one error leads to another.

Ultimately though, he gets an extra point over Woods for the way he managed to soldier on through an injury in the final ten minutes of the game, with only eighteen-year-old apprentice Ollie Tomlinson on the bench, manager Ryan Lowe seemed reluctant to take Aimson off despite him visibly limping. It would have been easy for Blackpool to target Aimson’s side as they looked to close up the game, but no harm was done and Argyle came away with a point.

Adam Lewis – 4

A disappointing display from the on-loan Liverpool left-back, particularly after responding to a set back against Ipswich the previous week with both assists for  Argyle’s win over Bristol Rovers last weekend. Lewis had some decent moments going forward but ultimately his crosses came to no avail and when asked to defend, he often seemed to show his inexperience, particularly in the lead up to the penalty where he invited the Blackpool player to go down after a hand in the back. He could also have done better for their first, totally missing the header in the build-up.

Conor Grant – 8

Grant looked typically assured on the ball today and offered extra protection in mid-field along with fellow defensive midfielder Tyrese Fornah. Grant also continues to impress for Argyle this season when asked to play a number of different positions. His crosses from the left are consistently put in an area which causes problems for opposition defences and it was his cross which led to Argyle’s equaliser and Grant’s tenth assist of the season.

Tyrese Fornah – 7

A good performance from Fornah this afternoon and he looked much more confident when having the aforementioned protection of a second defensive  midfielder. in the first half he seemed to get Argyle on the front foot with forward passes into midfield and did well at cutting the ball out before it got to the Tangerines’ frontmen. He was instrumental in the first goal as he completed a beautifully weighted ball to set Ryan Hardie in behind. The second half saw him, along with much of the team become less influential in the game, but that doesn’t take away from a solid performance.

Panutche Camara – 6

A quiet game by Camara’s standards as there wasn’t much space for the midfielder to get in behind. he typically pressed well and won the ball back for his side but when asked to find a final ball into the strikers, it was often lacking.

Danny Mayor – 6

Along with Camara, Mayor had a quiet game and was unusually scarcely involved in Argyle’s attacks. Now in a new 4-2-2-2 formation, it seems as though the talented midfielder is being asked to hold his width a bit more, leading to him having less of a free role in hand, becoming less involved in attack. This is not a criticism, but a rather an observation, as Argyle look to experiment with formations.

Niall Ennis – 7

Ennis continued to be a nuisance for opposition defences this afternoon and he was unlucky not to have put the Greens one nil up after his turn and shot bounced off Glenn Maxwell’s left-hand post. That was his only major chance of note, but he was able to continually stretch the defence with runs down the channel and good link-up play.

Ryan Hardie – 8

Hardie paired up well with Ennis this afternoon, coming in for top scorer Luke Jephcott after his involvement with the Wales under 21 side on Friday afternoon. Much like Ennis, Hardie troubled his former employers with typical runs down the channel and in behind and he was rewarded for his efforts in the twelfth minute when he latched on to Fornah’s pass before attempting to lob the keeper. The ball bounced loose and after Ennis had hit the post, Hardie was there to slot in the rebound. a bright performance from Hardie, who after a few weeks away from the starting eleven, would have hoped to stake a claim for a starting spot.

Substitutes :

Byron Moore – 5

Moore replaced Panutche Camara for the final twenty minutes of the game, on the right side of attacking midfield, before being switched to a more orthodox left wing position as Argyle pushed for an equaliser in the final minutes of the game.

Unfortunately, I can’t remember Moore getting on the ball too much in either position and he struggled to make an impact.

Luke Jephcott N\A

Jephcott was given most of the afternoon off after featuring for an hour for his country on Friday afternoon, for that reason I think it would be unfair to give Jephcott a concrete rating.

The Welshman, came on in the 84th minute for Adam Lewis in a formation change which saw Argyle go to 4-3-3 with Jephcott as the central striker. In truth, I also can’t remember Jephcott having too much of the ball in his time on the pitch.

Klaidi Lolos – N\A

In a week where manager Ryan Lowe has talked about giving opportunities to the likes of Lolos and on loan Torquay left back Ryan Law in the end of season run in, in order to give academy graduates a chance to earn a contract ahead of next season, Lolos came on and took his opportunity (albeit limited) pretty well.

I can’t give him a rating, as he only came on for the final minute of normal time but Lolos won a few flick ons and in general put himself about well, as argyle pushed on for an equaliser.

As cameos go this went pretty well for the former Greek under 19 international.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Player Ratings: Plymouth Argyle 4 Lincoln 3

Plymouth Argyle 4 Lincoln City 3. I’m going to say that again, Plymouth Argyle 4 Lincoln City 3.

What a game. Attacking flair, defensive incompetence, excellent finishes and wasted opportunities for even more. Argyle rushed into a two goal lead as Lincoln’s increasingly leaky defence struck again, before another Lincoln trademark – soft penalties – turned the tide. Jorge Grant converted twice in three minutes to give them a 3-2 lead (8 of his 11 goals this season have been penalties).

Argyle came again, and Conor Grant’s floated shot was probably drifting in before it was glanced in by what looked like a Lincoln defender. Mayor saw a potential winner brilliantly blocked before Joe Edwards scored a brilliant winner to somehow seal all three points.

Michael Cooper, GK – 7

Honestly, I don’t know where to start with these ratings. Cooper made a huge impact on the game with a great 1-v-1 save against Johnson at 3-3 which would have won it for Lincoln. I seem to recall a few other good saves but, honestly, so much happened that I can’t remember exactly.

This is obviously Cooper’s first season as a starting ‘keeper and he’s doing a good job, but for him to become Championship level improve he’s going to have to save a few more chances like Lincoln’s first goal. That’s not one he should save, but it’s one he could save. Top ‘keepers tend to keep a few more of those out of the back of their net, like Palmer did last season (but not today).

Will Aimson, CB – 5

Aimson made some vital interventions, denying a 2-v-1 at 3-3 to prevent Lincoln. However, when he did make those blocks he seemed to find him in the right place through luck rather than anticipation, as a result of Lincoln’s fantastic attacking movement. Aimson’s efforts to race back for Hopper’s 1-v-1 might have also cut off the opportunity for him to square it for a tap-in.

However, there were lots of sloppy moments, not least when he gave the ball away in Argyle’s box without realising the pressure he was under with seconds remaining. The ball was scrambled clear, but that could have been costly. Ultimately, he was part of a defence that just did not know how to deal with Lincoln’s attack.

Jerome Opoku, CB – 5

That game was such a blur that I can’t remember the specifics of why I’ve given Opoku five. It’s partly because of Argyle’s general inability to keep Lincoln’s attack at bay. There was a quite visible lack of coordination and leadership in defence, throughout the game. The first goal was a classic example of this, look at the positions players ended up in: I think Watts was in RCM, Edwards in CDM, Fornah LCM, Grant RWB and Mayor god-knows where.

This is just part of the long-running trend of Argyle lacking defensive structure as a team, and Ryan Lowe needing to find answers to questions he doesn’t seem to often ask himself about defending. But it was brutally exposed by Lincoln.

Kelland Watts, CB – 5

Watts gave Argyle the lead with a good right-footed finish after Lincoln showed off their inner Argyle by failing to properly re-organise after seeing off the initial set-piece. He then made a vital back-heeled back-post clearance as Lincoln came surging forward minutes later.

Yet, Watts was one of the players dragged out of position for Lincoln’s first goal. Had he been in position instead of chasing shadows, he’d have made a simple block and the shot never would have reached the goal. Watts then ran across an attacker to give Lincoln their first penatly of the afternoon.

I know this defence makes mistakes, but does anyone ever factor in how bad Argyle’s midfield is at protecting them? Conor Grant hardly covered himself in glory while doing nothing to prevent Johnson bursting into the box.

Tyrese Fornah, DM – 5

Fornah again showed that just how good he can be at receiving the ball and distributing it. I just wish he had the confidence to drive into wide-open space when it’s presented to him. On that topic, why do Argyle always have to go wide? Do they not know that driving into the box from the centre is actually more dangerous than crossing from the wing?

Fornah made some important defensive interventions but also was caught out by Lincoln’s quick counters. When he made two fouls inside fifteen minutes and had already been booked, it was obvious that he wasn’t going to finisht the game, only a question of who would send him off the pitch.

Joe Edwards, RWB – 7, player of the match

Until Edwards won the game, it was difficult to know who was going to be player of the match. But then he won the ball back in the 90th minute, gave it to Camara, received it back on the edge of the area, flicked it up and burried the volley in the bottom corner to give Argyle a victory that seemed so unlikely fifteen minutes earlier.

Edwards was hardly at his best throughout the game. He, like everyone, struggled immensely to contain Lincoln, though at least his wing seemed to be more secure than the left, down which the Imps ran riot. As Lincoln tired, Edwards – brilliantly supported by half-time substitute Panutche Camara – found his second wind. Argyle drove forward down the right into the space on offer throughout the final portion of the game. Edwards nearly flicked in Grant’s goal and was close to finishing off two rebounded shots, but it wouldn’t quite sit for him. Then, it was his moment.

Conor Grant, CM – 7

Like most, Grant was a real mixed bag. Started well, but his passing range was a bit off. Then he delivered a great cross that was cleared to Watts for his opener. Then he was barely in the game for an hour. Grant moved to defensive midfield after Fornah was pre-emtively removed by Lowe at half-time, but struggled defensively as Lincoln finally made good on their threat to draw level and then take the lead.

Then his soft-effort somehow found the back of the net. Argyle had got back on the front foot, but it was a tame shot from an awkward position that somehow squirmed in past two defenders. Grant, like virtually every player, had highs and lows throughout this rollercoaster of a game.

Danny Mayor, CM – 6

HE SCORED! HE ACTUALLY SCORED! Done a massive favour by ex-Pilgrim Alex Palmer (who has had an awful few weeks, go look at the goals he’s let in recently), who possibly didn’t expect the shot given he’s played with Mayor before and knows that most of the time he’ll dribble the ball to the corner flag rather than let fly. As if to prove the point, Mayor actually did that a few minutes earlier, turning down a chance to shoot just outside the six-yard box and ended up being dispossessed on the left wing.

Mayor nearly won the game too, seeing his effort brilliantly blocked after a neat lay-off by Lolos. Sandwiching these two highs were an hour of largely poor defending – one awful moment when he just stopped running, allowing a 1-v-1 that Cooper saved at his near post – and an inability to get his foot on the ball. When he did, he often had no outlet and was pressed by at least three red shirts.

Adam Lewis, LWB – 5

Struggled defensively and lacked coordination with Mayor. Surprised to see him take an early free-kick from what I would define as Conor Grant territory; even more surprised that Grant wasn’t stood over any of the set-pieces at all…

Energetic, but lacking an understanding of the game at points. Lincoln drew him in and exposed the space behind him consistently in the first half. Not too surprising to see him withdrawn and Grant moved to wing-back as Argyle chased the game.

Ryan Hardie, ST – 7

Surprisingly returned to the starting line-up at the expense of top scorer Luke Jephcott and he justified his place in the team. Worked hard, linked the play and got into dangerous positions. The only thing missing, as it has been most of the season, was the goal.

He had a great opportunity after the ball broke for him 1-v-1, but he declined the first-time finish (lifting it over Palmer) and tried to take it around him. He got the ball around him, but his shot was easily blocked from a narrow angle.

Niall Ennis, ST – 5

Ennis struggled to get in the game after Lincoln took control in the first half. I can understand what Lowe was trying to achieve in going with two, fast strikers and an attempt to out-counter Lincoln, but Ennis struggled once Argyle started lumping it under pressure.

Would have benefited from Lowe switching to 3-4-1-2 and putting Mayor in the hole. That would have offered an out-ball on the counter rather than just clearing it downfield, and had a player to pick up loose balls in midfield rather than letting them fall to a red shirt.

Substitutes

Panutche Camara, CM – 7

Camara made very little impact in the first half hour after coming on. Lincoln dominated the ball and Argyle provided no threat at all. Yet, in the last 15-20 minutes, Camara came to life. He pressed, won the ball back, and used his fresh legs to drive forward on the counter. His first assist for Grant was little more than recycling possession, but his cut-back for Edwards was smart and well executed, unlike his earlier waste of a counter attack.

Just as Ennis changed the game off the bench against promotion changing Portsmouth, Camara had a similar impact here.

Sam Woods, CB – 6

Woods came on after Opoku couldn’t finish the game following a knock he picked up in the first half. He showed a smart reading of the game to win the ball back and benefitted from tired Lincoln legs being unable to stretch the game as much as before. Nevertheless, Lincoln continued to create chances and could have won the game before Argyle snatched it.

Luke Jephcott, ST – 6

Jephcott tried hard but struggled to get into the game for the most part. No chances fell to him and Camara wasted the best chance for him to get a shot off in the box. Surprising ommission from the starting eleven.

Player Ratings: Portsmouth 2 Plymouth Argyle 2

Plymouth Argyle threw away two points by conceding twice in two minutes, with just three minutes remaining, having survived the storm, battered but unblemished on the scoresheet.

Argyle started the match well, but from the fifteenth minute Pompey were dominant, pressing Argyle back into theif defensive third and laying siege from set-pieces. The hosts failed to take advantage of those chances and were punished by the super-sub Niall Ennis, who had a huge hand in both of Jephcott’s goals.

Kell Watts’ clanger let Pompey back into the match and a free header moments later threw away two points in what would have been a bit of a smash and grab. Yet, Argyle went to Fratton Park and took points off promotion hopefuls, meaning 8/12 points taken from the past four away games, a significant improvement.

Michael Cooper, GK – 5

Suicidal passing at the back – not that he was the only one – helped Pompey dominate the first half. Pompey crossed the ball into the box 28 times, yet Cooper recorded no high claims and only one punch (though I could have sworn he made two). At a time when Argyle badly needed him to come and claim the ball to kill the chain of set-pieces. For a reminder of what this looks like, go back and watch Alex Palmer last season.

Cooper made one great save after another suicidal pass – Camara this time – and held on well after Marquis headed right after him from a matter of yards. He surely can’t be blamed for either goal, not to say he couldn’t have saved them but such a close-range header left him with little chance.

Will Aimson, CB – 6

Aimson started shakily but grew into the game and gave Watts a masterclass in how to deal with Curtis when he came on: don’t fall over. Now that Aimson has the right studs, he’s not falling over again, which is nice. Made a big block right before Jephcott’s second.

Aimson struggled under the high-ball from set-pieces, a factor that would be more emphasised in his score if Pompey had taken advantage of this. Once again though, he held up his wing under pressure and even carried the ball forward as Argyle started to grow into the game. Four blocks and seven clearances helped Argyle survive the Pompey siege.

Jerome Opoku, CB – 6

He, like many on the pitch, seemed half-asleep at times in the first half, taking precious seconds to react to Pompey’s swift counter-attacks. However, his recovery speed made up for this and his defending of the near post was largely strong throughout the game.

Threw his body on the line to help deny Portsmouth, but struggled in the air, both in open play and set-pieces. One area he has to work on is being dominant when he goes to win a header. His aerial duel success is now below 50%, the worst of all Argyle’s defenders and he only wins 1.4 headers per-90, less than half Canavan’s 3.4 from the centre of defence. No wonder Argyle struggle from crosses. Argyle survived Pompey’s set-piece barrage in the first half because they failed to hit the target with their headers, not because Argyle defended them well.

Kelland Watts, CB – 4

Watts was on for a 7 having started the game very well, made a goalline clearence in the first half and largely read the game well against the tricky Harness. Then he did that. Shocking defending allowed Curtis in and Pompey to get back in the game. That would be worthy of being dropped, if there were anyone to drop him for. And if he were not Lowe’s favourite (for some reason, Watts is the only player to have never been dropped, despite a raft of mistakes throughout the season that has seen every other CB lose their place in the team).

It was then Watts and/or Opoku who failed to clear the next cross into the box, which was headed home by James Bolton. I won’t lay blame here, because I honestly can’t remember exactly who should have won the header, but it was in the left-of-centre zone. Can’t be allowing free headers from that distance at any stage in a game.

Tyrese Fornah, DM – 4

Is Fornah alergic to the football? At best, he doesn’t show for the ball. At worst, he blocks players from passing or dribbling into space and helps opposition teams press the team. To be honest, I’m absolutely sick of Fornah’s utter inability to take advantage of his obvious passing and dribbling skill. Please, can someone teach him to:

  1. drop into space that opens a pass for a teammate;
  2. receive the ball facing forwards, not backwards;
  3. run into the $*%£ing space rather than always shying away from it.

Or, when Argyle are camped around the edge of their opponent’s area, show for a shot? Rather than standing in the way but declining to take the ball. The contrast between Ben Reeves and Fornah is stark.

Defensively, Fornah was awful in the first half. A non-presence when defending set-pieces, which is all the more shocking when he was marking Sean Raggett. SEAN RAGGETT. One of their primary threats from set-pieces. Fornah is surprisingly good at winning headers… in open play. Why ask Aimson to mark space and Fornah to mark Raggett. Swap that around, obviously.

Fornah ended strongly, winning the ball back more in the last fifteen minutes than he did in the rest of the game, but that didn’t mask the fact that he was the weak link in possession and aided Pompey’s play in the first half rather than disrupting it. Based on recent performances, has little chance of keeping his place in the team if Lewis Macleod is ever fit again.

Byron Moore, RWB – 5

Disappointing return to the team. Defensively fine, but a no-show in attack. Had so many chances to attack Charlie Daniels, who obviously doesn’t have the speed to keep up. 20 touches in the final third, but only two in the box. Only attempted four crosses, none successful. No shots. Only one dribble attempted, not completed. Edwards will hardly be worried about competition for his place based on that.

Panutche Camara, CM – 7

Suicidal first-half pass aside, he was quiet for the most part. Stuck out on the wing and unable to make anything happen alongside Moore. Dug in and won the ball, as always, to try and counter Pompey’s pressure.

However, it was the final 20 minutes when Camara came to life. His pressing won the ball back and his shot rebounded to Jephcott as Argyle snatched the lead against the run of play and from then on he looked dangerous on the counter, gliding past Pompey players as spaces opened up. Not his best performance, but he made the difference in what should have been the winning goal.

Danny Mayor, CM – 6

Calm as ever in possession and most of Argyle’s best moments in the first hour (well, fifteen minutes) came down the left. Unable to get in the game for the next hour as Pompey dominated, though did deliver the cross for Aimson to head right at the goalkeeper from 12 yards.

Turned down all chances to shoot, even when spaces opened up for him to cut inside and bend the ball to the back-post. This at a time when Argyle looked unlike laying a glove on their opponents.

Worked hard in defence, but he needs to work smarter. You can see he was a winger before becoming a midfielder in his awareness of defensive space. The back-three take a lot of stick, sometimes deserved, but they get so little protection from the midfield three ahead of them at times.

Conor Grant, LWB – 6

Brilliant first ten minutes, followed by the most mediocre eighty. Whenever Mayor worked hard to generate space for Grant, he just threw the ball into the middle first-time, which was meat and drink to Pompey’s centre-backs. Still, at least he did something to try and effect the game, unlike his opposite wing-back.

Largely anonymous for most of the game. Unsurprisingly offered little in the shape of defending set-pieces. Could have topped the cross from going into the box for the second, if we’re being picky.

Ryan Hardie, ST – 6

SHOOT MAN. JUST $*%£ING SHOOT. Can someone just take him to the training ground and just cross balls into him all afternoon? Shock him or something every time he takes more than one touch before shooting. Why does Jephcott score more than Hardie? Well he shoots. Of his 25 goals for Argyle, Jephcott has only required more than one touch to score on three occasions. Even then, he only needed two touches.

When Argyle’s best chance of the match falls to Hardie? He takes four touches, given the defender and keeper all the time in the world to compose themselves, others to close in, and block the shot. SHOCK.

Hardie was fine otherwise, denied a potential opener by a fantastic block by Raggett. However, his place is now under major threat from Niall Ennis. Perhaps a scoring streak might prevent that from happening. Which, of course, will require he SHOOTS.

Luke Jephcott, ST – 8

Jephcott wasn’t in the game at all. And then he was. Potentially a lesson as to why substituting your leading goalscorer even when he’s not in the game is a dangerous move.

In the first hour, he had no touches in the box and made three passes, one of which was the kick-off. In the last half-hour, he had four touches in the area, two goals, a blocked shot and his cut-back for Hardie.

With his double he stretched his lead at the top of the goalscoring charts, two ahead of Clarke-Harris, scoring a goal every 97 minutes. He recorded a quarter-century of goals for the club and only ten players have netted more this decade.

Although, surely Jephcott was offside for his opening goal, right? I presume I’m missing something, or maybe that was the linesman.

Substitutes

Niall Ennis, ST – 9, player of the match

Stealing the best player award is Niall Ennis, who was one of two Argyle players to change the game (the only one to change it for the better, mind you). It may have gone unnoticed, but in the build up to the first goal it was Ennis’ pressing on Marquis that prevented a Pompey counter and set up the opportunity for Camara to win the ball back. Then, a brilliant piece of skill to get away from his man and cross for Camara, whose shot rebounded to Jephcott for the opener.

After, as the cameraman zoomed in on Charlie Daniels after Will Aimson blocked his close-range shot, Ennis streaked away from Pompey’s defence before squaring for a Jephcott tap-in. Brilliant play off the bench by Ennis for the second time in a week, already paying off his transfer fee. I’m usually hesitant to give such high ratings to substitutes, but he earned this one.

Adam Lewis, LWB – n/a

I usually don’t bother with the late substitutes because they do little, but a shout-out to him for throwing his hat in the ring for worst defensive clearance of the season. He’s not going to beat Byron Moore’s effort at Fleetwood, but sterling work. $*%£ me.

Player of the Month: December 2020

After a dark beginning to December, light finally emerged in the week before Christmas Day. Argyle’s worst month this season saw four consecutive defeats after capitulations against Ipswich, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers, followed by an identity crisis against Crewe as Ryan Lowe turned to a back-four to start a game for the first time in his tenure as manager of Plymouth Argyle.

Thankfully, a hard-earned victory over MK Dons finally broke a six-match run of defeats and saw Argyle victorious in League One for the first time since Swindon on the 3rd November.

A 2-2 draw away at Charlton followed, meaning Argyle are still without a win or a clean sheet away from home in the league, and the month closed with another disappointing defeat, this time to Oxford, after a promising start to the match.

Player of the Month: Luke Jephcott (10.79)

It will come as little surprise to anyone that the player of the month was Luke Jephcott, the man who scored five of the seven goals for Argyle in December. Jephcott has come a long – long – way since he was loaned out to Southern League Truro City. Yet, at the age of 20, he still has even further to go before he can become the best player he possibly can, but his finishing is so impressive that it would be a real coup for Argyle to keep him next season, assuming he doesn’t leave for another club in January.

Despite his ridiculous goal scoring rate, Jephcott is still far from the complete package at this level, and may yet struggle if he moves to another team that cannot provide chances for him at the rate that Lowe’s Argyle have. Yet, the flip-side of that coin is that Argyle will struggle if they lose Jephcott, since a whole raft of players (other than Jephcott) have conspired to miss as many goals as possible in spite of the chances created for them. December was, of course, another reminder of just how valuable the Welshman is to this team. Creating chances means nothing if the ball doesn’t actually go into the back of the net.

Jephcott doesn’t always get the highest ratings, mostly because his style of play is largely geared towards getting on the end of attacking moves.That’s not to say that all Jephcott can do is finish – far from it. No, it is merely a reflection that 17 of his 20 goals in 2020 have been from a first-touch finish, while the other three were with a second touch, all of which came inside the box at an average distance of 5.7 yards from goal. It’s not for nothing that nearly a fifth (18%) of Jephcott’s completed passes this season have been kick-offs. Or that he has recorded no assists in 2020 (and no big chances created), compared to a combined 16 among his strike partners.

Yet, there can be no doubt that he is deserving of player of the month in December, after coming second in November, when he once again carried the goal-scoring burden for Ryan Lowe, possibly saving his job in the process.

To put his remarkable 2020 in context, Jephcott is the first Plymouth Argyle player since Reuben Reid (2014) to score 20 goals in a calendar year. Reid scored 22 at a rate of one every 193 minutes, Jephcott scored 20 at a rate of one every 116 minutes. However, Reid played a full, regulation season. Jephcott lost 9 games (potentially 12 had Argyle ended up in the play-offs) due to the curtailment of the 2019/20 season, and an anywhere between 3-7 games because of the late start to the 2020/21 season.

If you’re a betting man (unless you’re an addict, in which case seek help), you’d surely want to put your money on Jephcott to receive a senior call up to Wales’ national team at some point in his career. He started the last year in the Southern Football League Premier South, and ended it as the second highest scorer in League One. And as the player of the month, of course.

2. Will Aimson (10.57)

Aimson might be a surprise appearance at second, notably because he has deservedly earned a nickname as Bambi ever since he developed a habit of slipping over at least once per game starting with the 2-2 draw with Portsmouth. Fortunately (for Aimson and us) these slips haven’t led to immediate catastrophe and I hope that he can put it behind him in the near year (given how ridiculous it is).

Leaving that aside, Aimson ended the month poorly by giving away a needless penalty against Oxford. Regardless of the fact he got the ball, he went through the back of the player and had no need to make the tackle at that point. Yet, prior to the walls caving in on him during the final minutes of the month, he was otherwise solid. Mostly excellent against Charlton, particularly when red shirts started to find cracks in Argyle’s midfield, he was similarly solid against MK Dons to prevent any frights late on to secure Argyle’s first win since Swindon. Even against Crewe, another bad night for Argyle, he himself was impressive, at least relative to the rest of the team, and put in one of his personal best passing displays of the season. Of course, Aimson was largely spared the humiliation of the Rochdale debacle after starting from the bench.

That’s not to forget his highlight of the month, galloping back to make a superb last-ditch tackle to thwart a 1-v-1 and help Argyle to a much needed (and deserved) victory against Ipswich… oh wait I just remembered how that ended. Alas, as the PM might say.

3. Conor Grant (10.10)

With news that George Cooper is going to be injured for some time, it’s a good thing that Conor Grant has emerged as an able back-up since he was first injured against Crewe. Though he maybe does not provide the same quality as Cooper does (or maybe that should say as Cooper can, given he hasn’t hit top form yet this season), he certainly offers a similar quality of crossing from the left wing, leading to the opening goal against Ipswich and more recently the opening goal against Gillingham (though that does not count to this given it took place in January.

Grant has plenty to learn about this new role, particularly defensively, but it’s been a good enough start thus far and it’s been wonderful to see him finally blossom in a green shirt. The biggest question for him will be whether he can keep Byron Moore out of wing-back, particularly given the success of his relationship with Danny Mayor in that position back in late October and early November.

4. Joe Edwards (10.05)

Player of the month in November, Joe Edwards continue to impress from wing-back and keep Byron Moore out of the team. Though Edwards offered less in attacking during December than he has since winning his place back in the team, he still offers powerful, direct running infield from the wing, while helping to guard the right-flank of the defence when without the ball. During a month of defensive howlers, he’s largely done that job well, though more cracks have been emerging than since he broke into the team and its possible that he needs a rest, given how much running he seems to get through when on the pitch.

Edwards’ highlight of the month of course came from setting up Ryan Hardie’s much-needed winning goal against MK Dons, powering past static defenders with another direct run in from the wing and crossing for the finish. In a game in which Argyle were overly cautious and created little, he provided the inspiration that finally got three points back on the board.

5. Ryan Hardie (9.83)

Ryan Hardie has finally returned to something like his best form, and what a relief it is. Sure, he started the month slowly, but the winning goal against MK Dons was a predatory finish, the likes we haven’t seen enough of. Following that, he provided two assists for Luke Jephcott away to Charlton and then a third assist – and fourth goal involvement in three games – as Panutche Camara scored his first league goal for Argyle against Oxford.

Hardie also created another big chance for Jephcott away to Bristol Rovers, but Hardie himself missed three great chances in that game, overshadowing his otherwise good performance and leaving him with an average score of 4. Playing well means nothing if you, as a striker, miss a hat-full of chances yourself.

Last, an honourable mention to Camara, who does not feature in this list since we only cover the top five, but he finished sixth by 0.13 points and was of course voted player of the month by readers of Plymouth Live. Like Hardie, he finished the month strongly and it was great to see him get off the mark in the league. Hopefully this will translate into even more attacking output from him in the coming months.

Previous winners:

September 2020 Player of the Month
  1. Danny Mayor (11.61)
  2. Will Aimson (10.31)
  3. Conor Grant (9.86)
October 2020 Player of the Month
  1. Kelland Watts (11.20)
  2. Danny Mayor (10.56)
  3. Joe Edwards (10.26)
November 2020 Player of the Month
  1. Joe Edwards (11.86)
  2. Luke Jephcott (10.38)
  3. Michael Cooper (10.12)

How we calculate the score

Each player receives a match rating from 1-10 and one player from each match receives a man of the match bonus. Players who played fewer than 15 minutes of a match do not receive a match rating unless they made a significant impact. The players are scored by a variety of individuals who have witnessed every match this season.

The scores are aggregated and weighted against the number of appearances, before the man of the match bonus is added. In this way, we are ranking the impact of a player across the season. The more often they have played and the better they have performed, the more of an impact they have made on the team’s season, and therefore the higher they rank.

The formula also adds weight to higher scores. A player who gets 6s and 7s every week would average out at the same rating as a player who got a 9 one week and a 4 the next. Yet, that 9 rating implies a player made a match-winning impact and that should be rewarded. So, players who score higher ratings receive higher scores, even if their average rating is the same as a player who gets consistent middling-scores.

This way of ranking players enables us to be more impartial when speaking of the impact made by each player across a season, as it significantly reduces:

  • recency bias (players who hit a spell of form often have their season-wide impact overstated because of their recent performances).
  • statistical bias (players with lots of goals or assists relative to their position tend to be rated above those whose performance levels have been consistently superior but are not involved in goal-scoring, often because it is hard to visualise a player’s impact across a season without resorting to these stats. It explains why attackers, or defenders involved in a high-number of goals, predominantly receive most recognition throughout a season – we’re looking at you, Garth Crooks).
  • conformation bias (fans who favour some players tend to fixate on their positive performances while neglecting to factor in their bad performances when ranking them across a season).

Is Luke Jephcott the best striker in League One?

Plymouth Argyle were unlucky not to beat Charlton on Boxing Day. That’s my take anyway.

Ryan Lowe’s side had an excellent first half, and deserved their lead through two quality finishes from star striker Luke Jephcott. That they didn’t win can be put down to two unfortunate goals against – one which looked suspiciously like a foul on Kelland Watts, and the other a moment of magic from Marcus Maddison that not many sides at this level would’ve been able to stop. I also felt Argyle ought to have had a penalty for handball midway through the second half, but perhaps that’s my bias coming to the fore.

There were plenty of positives to take from the game at The Valley. Primarily, Jephcott again proved his worth to Argyle with two fine poacher’s goals. It means he’s already hit double figures in the league this year, and as a player who has a knack for being in the right place at the right time, you sense he’s far from finished. Still only 20, there has to be an argument now that he’s the greatest striker at any club in League One.

The raw stats

It’s been shared pretty widely over the last day or so, but it’s worth repeating. Luke Jephcott is now the joint-second top scorer in the league, with only Peterborough’s Jonson Clarke-Harris having scored more. However, Clarke-Harris has been on the field far more often than Jephcott this season, and the Argyle striker’s stats compare very favourably with the rest of the league.

Player Goals Assists Goals/90 minutes Mins per goal Conversion Rate (%) Shot accuracy (%)
1 Jonson Clarke-Harris 12 1 0.68 132 26 49
2 Joe Pigott 10 4 0.58 155 21 53
3 Luke Jephcott 10 0 0.90 100 40 68
4 John Marquis 9 3 0.55 164 24 46
5 Matty Taylor 8 1 0.48 186 22 62
5= Callum Camps 8 1 0.44 206 29 71
7 Jorge Grant 7 4 0.37 244 25 46
8 Scott Fraser 7 1 0.42 214 21 59
9 Charlie Wyke 7 0 0.61 148 27 54
9= Mallik Wilks 7 0 0.47 190 20 60
11 Josh Magennis 6 2 0.48 189 32 58
11= Matthew Lund 6 2 0.36 253 24 48
13 Kane Hemmings 6 1 0.52 174 33 44
13= Dion Charles 6 1 0.47 193 21 52
13= Conor Washington 6 1 0.43 209 32 63
16 Chuks Aneke 6 0 0.96 94 23 58
16= Mikael Mandron 6 0 0.36 248 22 59

Jephcott’s early-season injury and international experience have hindered him in the race for the League One golden boot. Because as we can see, he has a far better minutes-per-goal ratio that the vast majority on the list. He outscores both Clarke-Harris and Joe Piggott, the only two players ranked above him at the moment, comfortably. And of all the players to have scored six or more this season, only Charlton’s Chuks Aneke beats his record. But Aneke only has six goals compared to Jephcott’s ten, making his sample size smaller. Plus, any neutrals watching on Boxing Day wouldn’t have a hard time deciding upon the better striker.

But there are stats there even more remarkable that minutes-per-goal. Look at his shot accuracy, which sits at a princely 68%. Hitting the target around half the time is usually a decent barometer; to do it around seven times in ten is excellent. Only Fleetwood’s Callum Camps hits the target at a better rate than the 20-year-old.

What really separates Jephcott from the rest of the field is his conversion rate. Indeed, there is quite a difference between making the goalkeeper work and actually beating him. In that regard, Jephcott’s record is unrivalled, with 40% of his shots this season finding the net. It’s a particularly remarkable statistic – Jephcott has only had 25 shots in the league all season, and found the back of the net with ten.

Add in the fact that Argyle haven’t won a penalty all season, so Jephcott hasn’t had the chance to add to his tally from the spot, and his numbers become even more revealing. Statistically at least, Jephcott is right up there with League One’s best marksmen.

Effect on Argyle

What makes Jephcott so effective at the moment is how perfectly he fits into Argyle’s system. This isn’t a Freddie Ladapo in 2018/19 situation we have on our hands, when one player almost monopolising chances ultimately acted as a detriment to the team’s efforts. (I should say, that doesn’t mean Ladapo was a bad player. Rather, Derek Adams’ preferred system asked much more of the lone striker than simply scoring goals. I suspect Ladapo would have thrived at Home Park had he played under Ryan Lowe.)

Jephcott, meanwhile, has proven to be just what Argyle have needed in Lowe’s tenure. For the first few months, a lack of clinical finishing saw Argyle drop points unnecessarily, but Jephcott managed to fix that immediately upon his recall from Truro. With Ryan Hardie not hitting the back of the net quite so often this year, Jephcott has almost single-handedly kept Argyle going. The partnership between the two, however, remains very strong. After Boxing Day’s showing, there can surely be no doubt that Argyle are better when both Hardie and Jephcott start.

There are also huge benefits Jephcott brings to Argyle that we may not see immediately. Most obviously, should he be prised away from Home Park, Argyle can expect to be reimbursed with a hefty transfer fee the likes of which we probably haven’t seen since the Championship days. And how about the boost he’s giving to the academy? Nobody could have foreseen Jephcott’s meteoric rise this time last year, but now every youngster at Argyle knows they have a path to the first team if they perform well, even if they are sent on loan to the depths of the non-league pyramid. It’s bound to help.

I know this is all gushing, and it feels as though I’m a step away from declaring my undying love for the man, but it needs to be said. In a terrible year for just about everyone, Jephcott’s emergence is by far the best thing that has happened to the club.

So, is he the best striker in the league?

There are many relevant things we’ve discussed that can be considered when answering that question, and some less relevant. Jephcott’s age, for example, is of little help in deciding how good he is now, even if it does suggest he has a higher ceiling that most at this level. It’s also important to remember that goals aren’t everything. Ryan Taylor, for example, was a magnificent striker for Argyle when fit and utilised correctly. You’d hardly call him an assassin in front of goal.

That being said, it’s incredibly difficult to argue against Jephcott’s numbers. To be going at a rate close to a goal a game this side of Christmas is remarkable. Whether he’s the best all-round striker in the league is up for debate; I’d personally like to see him get a few more assists to claim that crown, even though I do appreciate his influence in Argyle’s general play. But is he the best goalscorer? The best poacher? On current form, I don’t really see how one could argue otherwise.

But even if they did, it’s ultimately all academic. Best in the league or not, Argyle have a phenomenal player (and asset) on their hands. Managing him well could be key to the club’s success both now and for many years to come.

Argyle’s best team grab elusive victory

Plymouth Argyle put their best team out on the field and won their first league game in eight attempts. That more or less tells the full story. I’ll spare you the thousand-or-so words of analysis of the victory over Milton Keynes, and leave you with that simple fact we’ve all been crying out for across the last few weeks.

Ok, I’ll go on a bit more – I just can’t help myself. In a surprise to absolutely nobody at all, having their strongest side on the field led to Argyle looking an awful lot better at both ends of the field. The back three of Kelland Watts, Niall Canavan and Will Aimson, surely now unanimously agreed to be the best option at the back, made Argyle look considerably more solid. On top of that, Ryan Hardie and Luke Jephcott’s combined play was back to its fluent best, with the former scoring with a well-taken finish that’ll surely boost his confidence immensely.

It’s been a tough time supporting Argyle across the last month or so. But this win could well prove vital – let’s hope the Greens can build from here.

Defensive solidity prioritised

In recent weeks, Ryan Lowe has regularly opted for Jerome Opoku in the centre of his back three. And it’s easy to see why the Argyle manager has a soft spot for the Fulham loanee. The way he’s comfortable with the ball at his feet and able to play out from the back makes him a very “Lowe type” player. However, his defensive deficiencies have been unavoidable. To say he resembled a rabbit in headlights at times would be kind, and despite all of the good he can bring, Argyle couldn’t persist.

Against Milton Keynes, Opoku’s presence wouldn’t be necessary. All season, they have been a side who have kept the ball well without creating much, so attempting to go toe-to-toe with a possession-based game would hardly have been wise. Rather, Argyle simply needed to have enough solidity in their defence to ensure their opponents couldn’t use their copious possession to threaten.

As such, lining up with Watts, Canavan and Aimson made a lot of sense. Whether each represents a good option at this level in their own right is up for debate, but their inclusion together is certainly the best Argyle can muster. And they delivered on Saturday. Will Aimson in particular stood out, winning 80% of his aerial duels across the 90 minutes, and whilst the pass completion stats were not what we’ve come to expect from Argyle’s defence, they managed the basics to ensure just their third league clean sheet of the season.

Credit must also go to Argyle’s midfield, particularly Lewis MacLeod and Panutche Camara, for providing a level of protection to the defence that we simply haven’t seen in recent weeks. MacLeod clearly seems to be back to full fitness, and managed to one-up Aimson by winning 100% of his aerial battles on Saturday. Meanwhile, Camara was at his effervescent best, winning 9 tackles (4 more than anyone else on the field) to provide Argyle a platform on the counter. It’s just another example of the solidity provided by the setup. Lowe could have opted for the more “ball playing” options of Tyrese Fornah and Ben Reeves, but solidity was correctly prioritised, and the result duly followed.

Hardie back in the goals

Ryan Hardie has come in for a fair bit of stick lately. Not necessarily for his build-up play, which has remained at a high level, but for his finishing. Before Saturday he’d only managed to score one goal all season, a paltry figure considering the chances he’s had to find the net. Against Bristol Rovers, for instance, he really ought to have got himself on the scoresheet at least once, and probably twice. The fact his goal tally has been dwarfed by Jephcott has only emphasised Hardie wayward shooting so far this season.

With that in mind, how lovely was it to see Hardie find the target on Saturday afternoon? To not only score, but score the winner in a vital match in front of the Devonport End has the potential to deliver him a huge boost. It’s cliched to say he’ll start banging them in now – that’s not guaranteed – but from being left wondering where his next goal may come from, Argyle’s number 9 managed to demonstrate the quality he still possesses at such a crucial time.

It was such a well taken goal, too. Good work from Jephcott and particularly Joe Edwards on the right gave Hardie the chance, but he still had plenty to do. A wonderful touch on his right foot took the ball around defender George Williams, before Hardie produced the finish of a striker bang in form to find the bottom corner. Goal drought? Forgotten.

One would like to think he’ll take the momentum from this game into the remainder of the Christmas period. We thought that may happen after he broke his duck for the season against Wigan in October with another lovely finish, but it didn’t quite materialise. It’s all the more important this time – a firing Hardie would be a key cog in Lowe’s Argyle machine to spark a recovery from the recent run of form.

Have Argyle turned a corner?

Saturday’s result was crucial. Had Argyle not found a way to win, it’d have been eight without tasting victory heading into a tough trip to Charlton on Boxing Day. And it’s sparked hope that the Greens have now put the worst behind them in this campaign. So have they turned a corner?

It’s probably too early to tell for sure. As mentioned, the next game on Boxing Day will be a tough one, and a defeat has the potential to take Argyle right back to square one. Argyle may have beaten Charlton away from home in the cup, but the Addicks will no doubt be a different beast this time around.

There’s also the question of how much we’re actually able to take from this game. Milton Keynes, for their part, are far from the best team in this division. Yes, Argyle may have managed to keep a clean sheet against a side fairly useless with the ball, but there are plenty of tougher battles to come. Yes, Hardie may have been able to score at the weekend, but he needs to add plenty more to that in order make his second loan spell a success.

But, as the old saying goes, you can only beat what’s in front of you. It’s certainly much more refreshing to assess how Argyle will build on a victory, rather than analysing how they can respond from defeat. All good runs of form must start somewhere – why can’t this one start with a narrow victory on a cold winter’s afternoon against Milton Keynes?

Player of the Month: November 2020

Plymouth Argyle’s promotion hopes took a hit in November as the team picked up 4 points from 12 in a tough run. Fleetwood battered Argyle’s poor defence, Peterborough threatened to do the same, while Pompey created little but still managed to score twice and take a point from Home Park.

However, there was positive news in the FA Cup as Luke Jephcott netted two goals and Mike Cooper kept two clean sheets as Argyle saw off two off the strongest possible sides at this stage by knocking out rotated Charlton and Lincoln sides.

All in all then, a positive month, but one that Argyle will need to build on in December to prevent the play-offs from slipping out of reach, while the club is still without an away win – or clean sheet – in the league.

Player of the Month: Joe Edwards (11.86)

Joe Edwards continued his strong end to October with a solid November to net the player of the month award. After struggling to break into the team following Byron Moore’s return from injury, it seemed as though Edwards was set for a long period on the bench twiddling his thumbs. Then, with George Cooper’s covid-enforced absence, he returned to the team at right wing-back with Moore switching to the left and it’s all clicked into place.

His surging runs infield from the wing have been a hallmark of his performances, starting with his goal against Swindon and ending with an outstanding display against Lincoln in which he was the beating heart of Argyle’s attacking play, receiving scores of 9 from every rater.

At the other end, Edwards has paired well with Will Aimson to make the right wing the more defensively solid flank of the defence. His work-rate has been particularly impressive, driving up the wing in possession and flying back down the other end when the ball is lost. A well earned award.

2. Luke Jephcott (10.38)

With five goals in the month, including two winners in the FA Cup, Luke Jephcott unsurprisingly takes second place. After injury interrupted Jepchott’s start to the season, appearing in only two of the first seven games (excluding the EFL Trophy, of course), the Welshman has finally reached the level of fitness required to make himself a mainstay in the team.

He has 8 goals from as many starts, a remarkable goal-scoring rate that he surely can’t keep up for the entire season, can he? It’s not just the rate of goals, it’s the technique involved: his awareness of space, timing of runs, understanding of his teammates play, and the calm, clinical nature with which he is finishing chances. If Argyle had another striker even half as composed as Jephcott, they might be in the top 4! Just think how many big chances have been missed by Telford, Nouble and Hardie!

Given Argyle seem to struggle unless they get the first goal, Jephcott’s early strikes against Swindon, Charlton and Lincoln all set them on the path to victory, making his goals all the more important.

If he keeps up his current form, he’s surely a favourite for player of the month in December.

3. Michael Cooper (10.12)

For a player with only two league clean sheets, Cooper is still ranking highly in our player rankings tracker (at the time of writing, he’s the third-highest ranked player and looks like he’s going to move back into second in a game or two). This is partly because there has been heavy rotation throughout the season, yet Cooper has been an ever-present along with Danny Mayor and Kelland Watts.

Cooper finished 4th in the September and October player of the month results, but finishes third here. He put in good performances against Portsmouth and Peterborough, regardless of results, but his two best performances were against Lincoln and Charlton. Cooper spilled a couple of shots against Lincoln, both of which could (should?) have ended up in the back of the net, but otherwise he was solid, and made two good saves to keep out Charlton in first round.

An awful performance against Fleetwood sandwiched these games, but comparatively Cooper was one of those who received a higher rating than some of the players around him.

4. Ryan Hardie (9.70)

Ryan Hardie had a stop-start month to match his stop-start season, but makes the player of the month top five for two reasons: his superb, double-assist performance against Swindon Town and his comparatively better performance against Fleetwood, as he was one of few to come out of that game with a respectable score. It was hardly the greatest month for Hardie, but surrounded by bad performances and consistent rotation, he makes the top five.

5. Panutche Camara (9.21)

Like Hardie, Camara did not have a great month (he actually received a score of 1 from one of the raters for his efforts against Fleetwood, when he was substituted after 11 minutes. His average rating for that game was less than 2, so not much better. That performance aside he had an above-average month, putting in hard-working performances against Swindon, Charlton and Lincoln. Given the nature of the game, it was odd that Camara didn’t start against Peterborough, regardless of his performance against Fleetwood on the weekend. That seemed like a game for him, but Lowe thought otherwise. Perhaps he wasn’t in the right mental state.

Previous winners:

September 2020 Player of the Month
  1. Danny Mayor (11.61)
  2. Will Aimson (10.31)
  3. Conor Grant (9.86)
October 2020 Player of the Month
  1. Kelland Watts (11.20)
  2. Danny Mayor (10.56)
  3. Joe Edwards (10.26)

How we calculate the score

Each player receives a match rating from 1-10 and one player from each match receives a man of the match bonus. Players who played fewer than 15 minutes of a match do not receive a match rating unless they made a significant impact. The players are scored by a variety of individuals who have witnessed every match this season.

The scores are aggregated and weighted against the number of appearances, before the man of the match bonus is added. In this way, we are ranking the impact of a player across the season. The more often they have played and the better they have performed, the more of an impact they have made on the team’s season, and therefore the higher they rank.

The formula also adds weight to higher scores. A player who gets 6s and 7s every week would average out at the same rating as a player who got a 9 one week and a 4 the next. Yet, that 9 rating implies a player made a match-winning impact and that should be rewarded. So, players who score higher ratings receive higher scores, even if their average rating is the same as a player who gets consistent middling-scores.

This way of ranking players enables us to be more impartial when speaking of the impact made by each player across a season, as it significantly reduces:

  • recency bias (players who hit a spell of form often have their season-wide impact overstated because of their recent performances).
  • statistical bias (players with lots of goals or assists relative to their position tend to be rated above those whose performance levels have been consistently superior but are not involved in goal-scoring, often because it is hard to visualise a player’s impact across a season without resorting to these stats. It explains why attackers, or defenders involved in a high-number of goals, predominantly receive most recognition throughout a season – we’re looking at you, Garth Crooks).
  • conformation bias (fans who favour some players tend to fixate on their positive performances while neglecting to factor in their bad performances when ranking them across a season).

Player Ratings: Plymouth Argyle 0 Rochdale 4

Plymouth Argyle went down to a shocking 4-0 defeat at home to Rochdale, ending the unbeaten run in dramatic fashion. After no losses at Home Park since New Year’s Day, this was some way to start. The game was virtually beyond us by half-time, going in three down. The second half was a bit better but not notably so. Whilst we did create some chances, we were brutally picked apart on the counter and made a catalogue of ridiculous individual errors in defence.

Starting XI

Mike Cooper – GK, 3

It was once again a disapointing evening for Argyle’s young keeper who seems to be fast estabishing himself as a player of feast of famine. He didn’t do a LOT wrong. If we’re being charitable, we could even say that he did well for the first goal, forcing Beasley to a tight angle following the initial defensive mix-up. That said, he really didn’t do a long right either. His kicking was unmemorable and I can’t actually remember a save he made. Most of the time, his hands were only on the ball to pick it out of the net.

This is before we mention his decision to inexplicably play tiki-taka football with Byron Moore on the edge of his own penalty area, leading to the fourth goal. Moore was dispossessed but it was a ridiculous pass by Cooper to go short in the situation. Moore had a man on him and could have done nothing other than, at best, boot the ball out of play.

Scott Wootton – RCB, 3

Truth be told, there was a time that I was willing to cut Wootton some slack tonight. Argyle were 2-0 down after some kamikaze defending contributed to both goals. But of all of them, Wootton was probably least culpable. He also did produce a couple of excellent blocks to prevent the scoreline looking even uglier.

Then, and there’s no way of making this sound better, he saw the ball heading into the bottom corner and just…let it go in. Let me repeat: he just watched the ball go into the goal. Despite having the means to deal with it comfortably he decided, and I need to drill this in because it still shocks me, to watch the ball nestle into the bottom corner while thinking “yep, this is fine.” Honestly, he was an active hinderance to defending the danger. Had he not been there, at least he wouldn’t have distracted his own goalkeeper.

Cue a half time substitution, and another clanger to add to the collection.

Niall Canavan – CB, 2

Contrary to popular belief, playing to the whistle isn’t the first thing kids are taught when they start playing football. But yes, by the time they become highly paid professionals, they should be aware that you can’t just stop playing whenever you feel like it. Niall Canavan, inexplicably, failed at that very objective against Rochdale.

Was the ball out of play for the visitors’ second goal? Maybe. The perspective from every camera Argyle had in operation made it impossible to tell. But Canavan assuming it was going to be called was scandalous. He wasn’t the only man at fault in the omnishambles that followed, but had he decided not to suddenly have the night off, the issue would have been stopped at source.

As an advocate for Canavan starting up until this game, this was not a night to remember for me or the Irishman.

Kelland Watts – LCB, 4

Uhh. Not a memorable night for the Newcastle loanee, which I have quickly discovered is a running theme. He was completely caught out for the first goal when he tried to play the offside trap and failed miserably, and his defending for the fourth (I still can’t believe I’m writing that after a home game against Rochdale) left a fair bit to be desired.

What really grated in this one though was his profligacy going forward. Honestly, how many times did he give the ball away during his time on the field. Well, I could probably look it up and find out, but after watching 90 minutes of that I don’t have the will to look up the stats just yet. But it was a lot, is my point.

Against a side as good on the counter as Rochdale, with a defence as hapless as Argyle’s, that was suicide.

Tyrese Fornah – DCM, 3

Tyrese Fornah seems absolutely fine on the ball. Perhaps that’s what makes Lowe like him so much. We saw as much with Jerome Opoku starting in the centre of defence to start attacks. However, much like we’ve seen with Opoku, Fornah is failing in his primary role in this system: defending.

In his position, and particularly against good counter attacking sides, Fornah needs to be the player cutting out attacks and stopping the simple passing avenues for the opposition. Against Rochdale, he almost seemed to do the opposite. He was so weak in the tackle when attempting to stop the first, and on many occasions he was nowhere to be seen for the second balls he ought to be eager to mop up.

I’m happy to be proved wrong in the coming weeks, but if Argyle are looking for this season’s Josh Grant behind the midfield, Fornah isn’t the man.

Joe Edwards – RWB, 7. Player of the Match

I can only assume Lowe recognised the game was already lost at half time, and he wanted to trial something new. Because bringing off Joe Edwards at half time when he was the only attacking threat Argyle possessed for the first 45 minutes would be mesmerically stupid otherwise.

Much like Saturday, Argyle looked most dangerous down the right in the absence of Danny Mayor. Edwards was a key cog in that, and almost set up Luke Jephcott for an equaliser soon after the game restarted after the first half injury delay. It goes without saying that this wasn’t as good as his Lincoln performance, particularly in defence, but he still stood out amongst the dirge in the first half.

I sincerely hope Lowe was just giving his right wing back a rest for the second half.

Conor Grant – RCM, 7

Grant, alongside Edwards, is the only other player to come out of this omnishambles with any credit. He was quiet in the first half and missed a half-decent chance for what would have been 1-2, fairly early in the second half. That said, he did really grow into the game as it went on. His best spell, curiously, was when he was moved into the wing-back role just after half-time.

He got up and down the line well in this position, ensuring that Argyle’s left hand side was secure. As well as this, he did also deliver some decent crosses into the box. Unfortunately, nobody had their finishing boots on to get on the end of them.

Ben Reeves – LCM, 4

Picture the scene: Argyle kick off the second half needing an Istanbul-style comeback to save the game. Within two minutes of the restart, the ball falls to Ben Reeves on the volley on the edge of the box, just days after he scored a screamer in similar circumstances against Lincoln. Once again he catches the ball on his left foot and sends it…wide. It just wasn’t to be for Reeves tonight.

He was far from the worst player in Green, and his second half performance was enough for me to consider bumping his rating up a little. However, his overall influence (or lack of) was a little problematic. The lack of Mayor in the middle has left a huge creativity void, and thus far Reeves hasn’t been able to fill it. Edwards has been great in the last two games, but he shouldn’t need to be Argyle’s main source of attacks.

Perhaps Reeves will be better alongside Mayor. Will we find out one day?

George Cooper – LWB, 5

George Cooper, with a 5, escapes as one of Argyle’s better players on the day by virtue of not having played much of the game. Yep, that’s how bad it was.

It has been notable in the last couple of games how much he struggles without Danny Mayor alongside him, but we can’t really pass much judgement on that from tonight’s showing. He may have been playing injured from the start – who knows? Hopefully both will be back soon an we’ll be able to see Argyle’s attack at its fluent best.

Frank Nouble – ST, 4

Nouble gets a 4, but it’s certainly closer to a 3 than a 5. In the first half he was very quiet, generally failing to get involved in any of Argyle’s admittedly limited attacking moves. And in the second, when he was involved, he was annoyingly wasteful. He squandered a couple of headers that could have put Argyle back in with a shout, and was barely involved in the creative side of the game.

Credit has to go to him for putting his body about, and still trying to develop openings for his side with his physicality. He was certainly better in the air than he was against Fleetwood last week, for instance. However, that’s hardly an achievement, and tonight certainly wasn’t his game.

Luke Jephcott – ST, 5

Jephcott is an excellent young striker who, all being well, will be hugely beneficial to Argyle’s promotion chances or Argyle’s bank balance one of these days. Maybe both. That said, it wasn’t his day today. He was busy and energetic, like he always did. He got into deadly positions through electric movement, like he always does.

Where he did unusually let himself down was his finishing. Argyle’s best two chances of the game both fell to him at close range. The first one was tapped against the post and the second he couldn’t get a good connection on. You’d usually expect him to finish one or both of those chances. Today, it wasn’t to be.

Substitutes

Byron Moore – LWB/RWB, 4

Moore came on for Cooper, and despite a good run of performances when he was rushed to LWB of part of Argyle’s COVID inspired reshuffle, he was pretty awful today. He replaced the injured Cooper and immediately managed to make a bad situation worse, offering next to no end product. One well delivered cross onto the head of Nouble was the one exception to the rule.

He also has to take a lot of blame for the catastrophe of the fourth goal. Yes, Mike Cooper played him into trouble, but Moore should have put his foot through the ball to clear it. Instead, he too tried to be too cute in his own penalty area and was dispossessed.

Will Aimson – RCB, 4

Aimson came on at half-time for Scott Wootton and, whilst there was some merit in sending a message to the dreadful defence, he was pretty anonymous. He didn’t do loads wrong but his passing was aimless.

He probably would be a five out of ten but he totally missed a chance to clear the ball before the fourth goal, after the Cooper/Watts fiasco. Not good but he’ll still probably return to the team for the Ipswich game, if only by default.

Jerome Opoku – CB, 6

Opoku was the best of the five Argyle centre-backs to play today and he still didn’t play especially well. He’s closer to a 5 than a 7. He didn’t do anything outstanding and there are some questions to be asked about his passing out from the back.

But, he didn’t look like he was playing with a blindfold on and he didn’t make any errors that led directly to goals. That at least is a step above the others.

Ryan Hardie – ST, 4.

I’m getting a bit numb with Hardie at the moment. Usually this season he works very hard, gets in good scoring chances but just can’t find the net. Today, he got in one semi decent area but that was about it and he spent much of the game anonymous, not really making any clear runs or effort to get the ball.

Is it time to ask the question? How long does his blip in form continue to be called a blip? How long before we question if perhaps last season was the blip after all? He needs improvement and he needs it soon. The worry is that nobody can score without Jephcott.

Panutche Camara – CM, 5

Well…he came on, he ran a lot. That’s about it. Certainly none of it appeared to be to great effect. Camara is a good player for us but on days like this, you just have to accept that nearly everyone has had an off day. He missed a good chance for what would have surely been a totally worthless consolation goal in stoppage time. The best you can say is that he got into good positions.

Player Ratings: Plymouth Argyle 2-0 Lincoln

After a very ropey week on the road, Plymouth Argyle got back to winning ways with a bang, beating Lincoln City 2-0 to get into the third round of the FA Cup. The scoring was opened by – who else – Luke Jephcott, heading directly in from a perfect George Cooper corner. Ben Reeves scored Argyle’s second goal in spectacular fashion, striking a Frank Nouble miskick into the top corner of the net on the volley. Argyle created chances in the second half. Whilst the first was quieter, we restricted Lincoln to few serious chances due to a very sturdy backline and were well worthy of the win.

Mike Cooper – GK, 8

A game at Fleetwood that could best be described as ‘error prone’ was followed up by a much improved display at Peterborough and then a performance today that was, if anything, even better. Cooper was largely very impressive against a Lincoln side who were increasingly peppering him with shots as the game went on. He saved everything that came at him, holding onto the vast majority of it. There were, perhaps, a couple of question marks over a couple of the shots in the first half that he could perhaps have held and were instead parried back to the striker.

Even those, he dealt with well. He also proved impressive in his command of area that was strong, knowing when to catch and when to punch. His kicking, one stray miskick aside, continued to be very impressive, often starting Argyle attacks. His use of his hands to distribute was also impressive, always looking for the quick route out of defence whenever he got two hands on the ball. Long may his form continue.

Scott Wootton – RCB, 7.

Given a run in the side once again following a couple of Will Aimson mistakes, Wootton continued to show there’s few better than him for on the ground defender. His aerial duel success may be patchy (albeit, it’s better than it was) but there’s few players I’d trust more to position themselves effectively to cut out an incoming attack. Lincoln barely had any serious chances in the game, largely restricted to long range shots. This was surely in part down to Wootton’s astute reading of the game.

Where he could have done better, as he so often can is his passing. Whilst he’s fine at playing the simple balls out of the back three, he too often executes aimless long passes to nobody in particular. This simply results in the ball coming back to us and it’s an area of his game he can still work on.

Niall Canavan – CB, 9. Player of the Match.

What a difference this guy makes. Surely, now, it is beyond doubt? Argyle are quite simply a better team when Canvan plays. No ifs, no buts. It isn’t just that he’s a better defender than the alternatives for the central man in the back three. I mean, I think he is the best defender for that role. He’s a colossus in the air, winning almost everything that comes his way and he knows exactly when to attack the ball with aplomb.

But more than this, and he showed this against Lincoln, is he makes others around him play better. He communicates where other players should be and organises at set pieces. He brings out the best in those around him. The stats speak for themselves: Argyle concede at a goal every 87 minutes when Canavan plays and a goal every 51 minutes when he doesn’t.

Kelland Watts – LCB, 8.

Another fine game was had by the man who is proving to be an absolute revelation on the left hand side of the defence. Whilst (as stated above!) I believe Canavan to be our best all round defender, I believe Watts to be our best attacking-defender. He executed his core duties brilliantly, a couple of slight errors that crept into his game in recent weeks were nowhere to be seen against Lincoln. He also overlaps well, presenting himself as an extra attacking option whilst ostensibly a centre-back.

One scuffed clearance is the only imperfection that I can think of and perhaps he can consider himself unlucky not to get an even higher score.

Tyreese Fornah – DCM, 6.

Fornah had an unexpectedly good game against Peterborough – after being dropped from the side, he had his best game in an Argyle shirt. He fought and scrapped constantly, not getting dribbled past once. We all hoped it was a positive platform he could build on to really cement his place in the side. He did have a quieter first half, often failing to decide when to press and when to hold off. This sometimes led to him doing neither.

However, the second half saw him look much more like the Fornah was saw on Tuesday night. He was much sharper and his decision making more astute and perhaps this lead to Argyle’s improved second half display. He’s done enough to keep his space for another game, at least.

Joe Edwards – RWB, 9.

I’m prepared to eat humble pie here. Edwards is a player who I didn’t think would make the step up to League One level particularly well. Last season, he was perhaps too often Mr 6 out of 10, getting up and down the line well but to no avail when it came to his end product. However, the game against Lincoln was the latest in a long line of very impressive displays for the greens.

He was constantly getting Argyle moving, the primary source of home attacks in the first half and the second. Additionally, he seems  to have upskilled himself. His passing, never really a strength last time out, was intricate in this game. He linked very well with Conor Grant and the strikers. Only Canavan’s dominant display prevents him getting man of the match.

Conor Grant – RCM, 7.

He was a bit quiet at times, especially in the first half, but he grew into the game as it went on. After a mediocre couple of games, it was good to see Grant look more like the star man we saw in the early days of the season, even if he wasn’t quite back to his best.

His distribution was tidy and he was part of a good joint defensive effort that largely restricted Lincoln to pot shots.

Ben Reeves- LCM, 8.

Reeves had all the good aspects of Grant’s performance made better. Yes, perhaps he could have been busier going forward but his tenacity was much appreciated by his defenders, who had much less to deal with due to the relentless pressing of Reeves in front of them,

And, of course, we can’t go without pointing out his miraculous goal. It fell to him on the volley and he timed it perfectly to whack the ball into the corner of the net, giving Palmer no chance in goal for the Imps. Contending with Conor Grant’s efforts against Wimbledon and Swindon, it will surely be up there for goal of the season when the campaign ends.

George Cooper – LWB, 7.

It was a funny game for the wing-back. Perhaps a little lucky to have kept his place after a dire display on Tuesday against his old club, Cooper showed he still has some magic in him with a beautifully whipped cross straight onto the head of Luke Jephcott for the opening goal. He was also involved in the second, delivering the free-kick into the box which was cleared out for Reeves’ stunning goal.

That said, his general level of display was perhaps still a little lacking at times. His defending was the weakest of the midfielders and he didn’t show for passes as much as Joe Edwards on the other side. He has encouraging signs to take from his performance but some areas for improvement too.

Frank Nouble – ST, 6.

It was in truth a fairly quiet game for the big striker. Certainly in the first half, he rarely got on the ball. In the second, he was more involved and didn’t do a lot wrong. Perhaps he deserves a higher score as he didn’t exactly make any mistakes, he just didn’t do a lot generally. Credit can be given to his movement, which can be useful in occupying defenders, if nothing else.

He will be fighting for the assist to his name but if he’s honest, I don’t think he can say he meant it. Still, a couple more ‘mistakes’ like that and Argyle will be laughing.

Luke Jephcott – ST , 7.

Just how many millions is this kid gonna end up making Argyle? I hate to think of such a good player leaving us when his Argyle career has only just got going and he’s establishing such a connection with the (albeit distant) fanbase. The fact remains though, that if he keeps up this kind of form, he can make money for the club that could have us set for the next five years.

He was really rather good again today, quite aside from the now expected poacher’s finish for his goal. It’s a myth that all he’s about is goalscoring. He’s relentlessly busy, constantly pressing opposing defenders and forcing them back up the pitch. I envy the 2,000 who will get to see him play in the flesh for Argyle on Saturday. Sadly I’m not sure how many more appearances he has left.

Substitutes.

Pantuche Camara – RCM, 8.

Whilst Grant had a solid enough game, he was exceeded by the man who replaced him in the second half. Argyle really needn’t have worried about losing Antoni Sarcevic this summer. Camara does everything that Sarcevic did and he does it better too. He drove Argyle up the pitch at a time where we could so easily have sat back and his use of the ball was immaculate. Ryan Lowe has once again been given a real selection headache for the two CM spots.

Jerome Opoku – LWB, N/A.

Once again tried at left-wing-back after a prolonged spell at CB, he did the job as a more defensive option to see the game out. He did get booked giving away a free-kick, but made no other mistakes of note.

Ryan Hardie – ST, N/A.

Try as he might, it just isn’t happening for him in front of goal, is it? He once again got himself into a good position but couldn’t put it away. We can at least take solastce from the fact that at least he’s getting in the right positions still, even if he’s a mile away from the confidence boost he needs.

Player Ratings: Hull 1 Plymouth Argyle 0

Plymouth Argyle succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to league leaders Hull City this afternoon, despite a spirited performance. Argyle grew into the game as it began to draw to the close, but a Hakkeb Adelekun goal was enough to see the hosts home for a 4th win from 4 games, continuing their perfect start to the season. For Argyle, a first league defeat this term but many positives nonetheless.

Michael Cooper, GK – 7

An assured performance from the youngster, who looks to be continuing to grow into the physical nature of league football.

After a early spill from a shot from range which was regathered quickly, Cooper went on to have a game which produced very few mistakes, as he was behind what he had to face, and came for crosses well when tested in the air and could do very little about the Adelekun goal which won the game as it was fired into the opposite corner from close range.

He did have a shaky moment late on which nearly resulted in a mix up in defence as Argyle were chasing the game, when coming out to head the ball, but that can be excused when you consider how stretched the game was at that point as Argyle were chasing the game.

Scott Wootton, CB – 6

Not many complaints for Wootton this afternoon and he was part of a defensive unit that did well to limit one of the league’s best sides to very few clear cut opportunities. Despite a couple of wayward clearances Wootton performed well at one of his main strengths –  intercepting balls from crosses into the box. This was particularly important against a Hull side which liked to utilise the space created by Argyle’s three at the back system in wide areas.

Niall Canavan, CB – 7

One of the contenders for man of the match for me. Since coming into the side in the second half of the 4-4 draw with AFC Wimbledon two weeks ago in attempt to sure up the defence, Canavan has been a commanding presence in the air, greatly improving Argyle’s prospects in that area defensively. Today was no different as the Irishman seemed to connect with much of what Hull had to offer in wide areas.

Canavan also seemed to be the centre back most eager to try and switch the play, and although those didn’t come off as much as he would’ve liked the willingness to try and spread a resolute Hull defence out is pleasing.

Kelland Watts, CB – 7

Another contender for man of the match, this was one of the better performances from Watts in an Argyle shirt so far, he was very good positionally, particularly to cut out balls in the channels and he performed strongly against one of the league’s better wide men in the aforementioned goalscorer Hakeeb Adelekun.

There were a couple of occasions where Watts showed his experience of playing further up the field too, stepping out into midfield particularly later in the game when Argyle were chasing the equaliser and producing a good save from Tigers goalkeeper Matt Ingram.

Conor Grant, DM – 6

Grant started in the role he fulfilled well for much of the game last week after an injury to Lewis Macleod, and he kept his place in the deepest role this afternoon despite the signing of young defensive midfielder Tyrese Fornah on a season long loan from Nottingham Forest, last night. In truth, I can’t remember many contributions of note from Grant but he typically kept possession well, sometimes offering himself as an overlap to Byron Moore on the right side without receiving the ball. Grant did also unleash a good shot after a rare period of pressure from Argyle in the first half, but failed to make it 3 goals in as many weeks as it whistled over the bar.

Byron Moore, RWB – 6

Much like his partner on the right side of defence Scott Wootton, no complaints for the performance of Moore this afternoon, as he started his second game in a row ahead of Joe Edwards. Moore got forward well and although the quality of the cross was sometimes lacking, he continued to try and get forward right into the dying embers of the game, showing his immense stamina as many others on the pitch started to tire.

Panutche Camara, CM – 7

An overall good performance from the Bissau-Ginuean, who was actually making his first league start for Argyle this afternoon, after coming off the bench in the first 4 league games of the season. Camara provided his usual relentless pressing and also was very useful in helping Argyle relive some pressure, often snapping in to win the ball for Argyle particularly in the first half when Hull had the majority of the possession.

Going forward, Camara was not as good particularly when crossing or shooting, but he did his primary job well and there is no reason why he can’t find himself in the starting XI next week too.

Danny Mayor, CM – 7, player of the match

Mayor get my vote for man of the match this afternoon, as he looked the one most likely to create an opening for Argyle in the first half when they did have the ball in the absence of George Cooper from the starting XI.

He looked to conjure up opportunities, with his trademark weaving runs and was one the one player in a white shirt that had the Hull defence backtracking for the whole of the game.

He was also influential alongside George Cooper, in the visitor’s attacking onslaught in the final 20 minutes and had the game lasted five minutes more, you may have seen Mayor force an equaliser.

The only thing that stops the Leyland native from gaining another mark, is his looseness in midfield when trying to pass or run with the ball. However, this was likely because a lack of creative support in the first hour of the match.

Jerome Opoku, LWB – 6

Perhaps a surprise inclusion on the team sheet this afternoon for some after sitting out completely last time around, Opoku made his first appearance since joining on loan from Fulham until January last week. Opoku’s start in place of George Cooper was understandable when you consider the attacking prowess that Hull possess, and a good example of Ryan Lowe using the strong squad at his disposal, to cater to the opposition that his team face.

The former Accrington Stanley man was fine defensively and put some good crosses in going forward however, he was unable to provide the same attacking threat as Cooper and subsequently, Argyle were unable to stretch the opposition as much as they would have liked when he was on the pitch.

This is no fault of Opoku’s though as he is not in the squad as a left sided creative but rather a defender, it is just just an observation around the absence of Cooper rather than the debutant himself.

A good start for the young prospect in a green shirt, and I look forward to seeing more of what he has to offer in weeks to come.

Ryan Hardie, ST – 6

Hardie replaced Dom Telford, who started ahead of him for the game against Shrewsbury last week and produced a performance that is perhaps indicative to the start of the season for the Scotsman,

Hardie worked hard, chased well and used his pace to try and get in behind, but the ball just wouldn’t quite fall for him in the area. Whether it’s a lack of confidence or even the absence of strike partner Luke Jephcott, Hardie hasn’t quite been able to hit the heights of last season as of yet, which saw him score 7 goals in 13 appearances. Hardie needs a goal to get off the mark, but i’m sure a man of his quality won’t go much longer without one.

Frank Nouble, ST – 6

Nouble once again demonstrated his ability as a target man, and a good release point of pressure for the Greens this afternoon, and was able to be an outlet when Argyle couldn’t beat the press by passing through the thirds. He brought others into play well and occupied Hull Centre Back Reece Burke, and probably opposition man of the match Reece Burke all afternoon.

However, I would like to see Nouble try and get in behind more as he has the physical attributes to do so, and I think that might help free up the likes of Hardie up more, as they will be able to directly link up as a front two.

Substitutes

George Cooper, LWB – 7

As previously mentioned, Cooper was replaced by Jerome Opoku on the teamsheet in an attempt for a more defensive approach by Ryan Lowe and, Argyle subsequently lost his creative spark which is so important for for the sides attacking prospects. He came for the final half an hour of the game and completely changed the flow of the tie as, Argyle started to dominate territory and got into more advanced positions. The link up with Danny Mayor on the left side meant the league’s table toppers were genuinely clinging onto the three points towards the end. A higher mark for Cooper is only stopped because of the amount of time he spent on the pitch.

Dom Telford, ST – 5

Might be a bit harsh, but he came on for Ryan Hardie with just under 15 minutes and failed to make much of an impact. Telford did very nearly get on the end of a Byron Moore cross late on, but it was cut out excellently at the front post by Reece Burke.

Ben Reeves, DM – 7

The reason why Telford gets a 5 is Ben Reeves. the debutant came on at the same time as Telford – 76th minute to be exact, and made a great impact, ensuring that Argyle continued to move the ball forward late on in the game and was overall very neat.

Capable of playing further forward, if Reeves can stay fit he may just yet play a pivotal role in the Argyle side this season.