Ratings: Torquay 0 Plymouth Argyle 3

Plymouth Argyle completed their pre season preparations ahead of their League One opener away to Rotherham United next weekend, with a comfortable 3-0 win over Devon rivals Torquay United.

Goals from Niall Ennis and Panutche Camara just before half time were complimented by a Ryan Hardie strike as the game reached the latter stages. These goals were enough to see off the National League outfit, in a very professional performance from the greens.

So, how did the players fare and what can it tell us about how Argyle may look to lineup in Yorkshire next Saturday?

Callum Burton, GK – 5

Burton was able to get some much needed minutes under his belt, starting ahead of number one Michael Cooper this time out.

After completing a move from newly promoted Cambridge United earlier in the window, Burton was able to register appearances against local sides Plymouth Parkway and Saltash United and League Two side Bristol Rovers, before injury seemed to keep him out of the next three games at Home Park against Championship opposition.

In truth, Burton’s performance was adequate. He did not have a lot to do, as Argyle managed to control most of the game in his time on the pitch.

The few times his handling was tested he coped with it well, but ultimately it was all routine work for Burton. That would indicate an average score of 6 – largely untested but no outstanding mistakes.

Where Burton does get marked down for though is his distribution which for most of the afternoon apart from a few short passes seemed rushed and inaccurate, even under minimal pressure.

Now, whilst that judgement could be viewed as harsh, I feel that Lowe’s preferred style requires his defence and goalkeeper to start attacks by attempting to play through the press.

If Burton wants to seriously challenge Michael Cooper at points this season, the technical side of his game may need to be more refined.

Ollie Tomlinson, RCB – 6

No complaints can be made about the performance of Tomlinson this afternoon, he fitted in well to the defensive unit and did well to snuff out any danger.

He may have been forgiven for some shows of inexperience, particularly against more experienced physical players, with a direct style but he stood up to the challenge with relative ease.

Dan Scarr, CB – 6

Much like Tomlinson, Scarr dealt with what he was asked to and continued to showcase his ability as shown over pre season. He iis strong in the air and makes the right decisions defensively. This might seem like something you expect a defender to do. But, after conceding so many needless goals through lack of experience and positional awareness in the back line last season, the performances of Scarr since his arrival at Argyle seem like a breath of fresh air.

Macaulay Gillesphey, CB – 8

The most impressive of the defenders, this was an excellent performance from Gillesphey, who was good in the air despite being the shortest of the back three and displayed real intent and accuracy with the ball at his feet. He was continually finding pockets of space for his midfielders to receive on the turn. If pre season is anything to go by, Gillesphey’s progressive passing looks like it could be a real asset to Argyle this season.

Adam Randell, DM – 9 MOTM

Randell continues to excel in every game I see him play, growing in confidence every time. On his return to the club where he became a fans favourite last season, Randell was calm, composed and positive on the ball, offering himself constantly and even pulling out the odd piece of skill to get away from his marker.

That might be a part of his game that we come to expect over the next 9 months, but you would be forgiven for thinking that his defensive ability might come in to question at times this season as a result of inexperience and the open system that Argyle play.

Now, whilst it still might, today Randell and fellow midfielder Panutche Camara did an excellent job at shutting down any potential attacks with good high pressing and snappy tackles.

Based on pre season, I really think Randell could push fellow midfielder Jordan Houghton all the way for that single pivot role. All being well, looks to have a really exciting season ahead of him.

Joe Edwards, RWB – 6

It was a. typically solid performance from Edwards. The skipper was fine defensively and some really good thrusting runs going forward. The captain once again looks like he could play an important part in any success Argyle do have this season. Overall, a pretty quiet performance from Edwards on Saturday Afternoon though where he didn’t quite impose himself on the game.

Panutche Camara, CM – 8

A strong performance from Camara in this one. At his best, there don’t seem many players around this level that can stop him. He combined the aforementioned tenacious pressing and tackling in tandem with Adam Randell, with strong running to break away from the Torquay midfield, and, whilst unremarkable, his passing seemed to pick out the right options.

He also did well to get in the box to finish after a shot from Luke Jephcott was pushed out by Torquay keeper Halstead for Argyle’s second just before halftime.

If Camara can manage to combine his best attributes more consistently as shown today, this season he could prove to be a real force in the midfield this season.

Ryan Broom, CM – 8

An exciting first appearance from Broom after he was confirmed to have joined on a season long loan from Peterborough on Tuesday.

Broom seemed to gel pretty well with his new teammates and seemed hungry to make an impression on his new boss, with runs forward and some good switches of play in particular. Furthermore, he was unlucky not to put Argyle in front midway through the first half with a shot that whistled over the bar.

Capable of playing in either a CM or RWB role, I am looking forward to seeing more of what Broom can offer in the coming weeks.

It is also worth noting that strong performances from Broom could provide some stiff competition for fellow attacking midfielder Danny Mayor, which seems to be something that Mayor has often lacked since his arrival at the club.

Ryan Law, LWB – 5

Law has had some bright cameos, particularly going forward in this pre season but today he was sloppy, particularly in the early stages when he gave the ball away in quick succession in the defensive third.

He did make some good runs forward, but his end product was often lacking and he failed to make much of an impact on the game.

Luke Jephcott , ST – 5

This seems to be a reoccurring theme when talking about the performances of Jephcott over recent months. He was again largely ineffective (although his shot did lead to the second goal) and failed to really cause any threat to the Torquay defence.  After a first full season in professional football ended in 18 goals last year ended with 20 games without scoring, Jephcott seems currently devoid of any confidence, understandable given his current run of form and just one open play goal in pre season – against Plymouth Parkway.

It would be wrong not to be slightly concerned about Jephcott’s form, but I do feel he is currently trying to make up for his lack of goals by getting involved in other areas of the game, which negates his one trait which separates him from others at the club – first time finishes in the box.

If he can get back to remembering what he is best at, I feel that we could very quickly forget about this period of form.

Niall Ennis, ST – 8

Another bright performance from Ennis who was willing to hold the ball up and also is able to run at the defence, causing confusion.

This was demonstrated with the opening goal on forty two minutes, when he was able to pick the ball up and run across the Torquay defence before unleashing a terrific shot into the bottom left corner.

Along with fellow striker Ryan Hardie, Ennis has had a really good pre season, whilst, like Hardie often lacking the finish to go with his overall performance. If he can begin to take more of the chances that come his way I don’t see why Ennis can’t at least reach the ten goal mark this season.

Substitutes

Michael Cooper, GK – 6

Came on with half an hour to go for Callum Burton, and was required to make some more saves as the game drew to a close, as legs tired and substitutions disrupted the flow of the game.

Every shot that Cooper faced he held onto well, but he did for the second time in a week miss a punch from a cross, last week it resulted in a penalty and this week a bit of a goalmouth scramble. Not too much of a concern but it will be something that Cooper will need to tighten up on going into the season.

James Wilson, CB n\a

Came on for the last 20 minutes in and played in the middle of defence, nothing much of note to say but no dramas and helped the young duo of Brandon Pursall and Ethan Mitchell settle in for the last ten minutes.

Brandon Pursall, CB n\a

As stated above Pursall came on alongside fellow academy product Ethan Mitchell for the last ten minutes, nothing much to note.

Ethan Mitchell, CB n/a

Same as above.

Jordan Houghton, DM – 6

Houghton came on with just under 25 minutes to go, some good passes and some sloppy ones, no dramas but no stand out moments either.

Now maybe i’m forgetting some moments, given the excellence of starting DM Adam Randell, but whilst many people would’ve expected Houghton to start the season when he came in, due to Randall’s performances over pre season I think it is far from a certainty that Houghton starts on Saturday.

Brendan Galloway, LWB – 6

Came on at the same time as Houghton, Galloway has played in both the left sided centre back role and wing back role this pre season and has defended adequately in both.

Same today – good in defence, didn’t offer too much going forward.

Danny Mayor, CM – 7

Danny mayor was his usual just above average when he came on, when he squared them up torquay’s defenders could barely touch him and had two shots, one that bent over the bar and another coming when he went past most of the team on a brilliant solo run and carried it into the box, before taking the shot a bit too late to allow the goalkeeper to make the save.

Now whilst that might sound like all positives, which they are for most players, we know Mayor can do that but it is almost always the end product which lets him down.

Finley Craske, RWB – n\a

I’m not going to give Craske a rating just because he spent under 15 minutes on the pitch. But I was pleased with what I saw, he was direct in his running and this meant he got down the byline a couple of times, including for the third goal in which he was the assister.  Craske did really well to get down the right before fizzing a low cross into Ryan Hardie, before the striker took a touch, turned and finished into the bottom corner.  Promising cameo.

Ryan Hardie, ST – 7

Came on at 57 minutes, and made an impact. These are the kind of games that best suit Hardie, when legs are tiring and he is able to get at the defence and run in behind them. Got his goal as mentioned above which was well taken – Could’ve had one more wen through at the end but took to many touches and the chance was snuffed out.

Like Ennis, overall Hardie has had a positive pre season often without a goal to show for it, but if any of the three senior strikers could start taking chances more consistently, it could see Argyle fly up the table.

For me, performances over pre season put Hardie and Ennis in prime position to start against Rotherham.

Rhys Shirley, ST n\a

Shirley was a bright spark when coming on, despite only being on for the last ten minutes, Shirley provided some excitement, with nice turns away from his marker and eagerness to get shots off.

I still think being so young and with work to do on the physical side of the game, a loan would benefit Shirley this season. That said, if pre season is anything to go on on there are definitely reasons to be hopeful about the striker.

Lessons From England

A nation gripped with pride will sit down on Sunday evening to watch Gareth Southgate’s England side take on Italy in the final of Euro 2021. The last few weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster of epic proportions. Many thought we wouldn’t make it past the last 16. Thankfully, the cynics have seen their fear turn to joy. England have faced every big test and came out the other side intact. With each win, many more doubters have been convinced. England, a far cry from the emotionally draining side of the 00s, have become a joy to watch at this tournament. Many people will discuss the ins and the outs of England’s success but this is not the place for that.

Argyle manager Ryan Lowe has recently completed his UEFA Pro Licence, the highest qualification an English coach can have. Lowe mentioned in 2019 that he had used previous courses to meet and speak with Gareth Southgate personally. Furthermore, he said that he would feel confident speaking to the England manager for advice at any time. Let’s take a look at some key pillars of Southgate’s managerial creed and see how Lowe’s Argyle could do well to follow them.

Tactical Flexibility.

Southgate has shown many times that he’s determined to pick and choose his selections to suit the opponents that his side are facing. England have primarily lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation at this tournament but against Germany, Southgate notably matched up the 3-4-3 formation of the visitors. The rationale was clear. If we could stop them using their width to allow Gosens and Havertz to overload our defence, we could get more control of the game. Ergo, we could stop them from dominating in the way they would have liked. 

Perhaps this was an area where Argyle were lacking a little last season? It did become a bit of a running joke that Derek Adams would almost reflexively match up a diamond 4-4-2 whenever Argyle but Ryan Lowe perhaps goes too far the other way. Often last season, he was forced to choose between Conor Grant and Panutche Camara. 

Intuitively, Camara would be the player of play against a side dominating the game, with his searing pace on the counter likely to assist us. Grant would be more logically the player to play against sides who sit deep. His ability to unlock a defence via the means of a defence splitting pass was needed. Too often though, Lowe would simply pick on their own form rather than specifically matching the opposition up. To be clear, there’s no denying Lowe’s potential as a manager but this is one area he could perhaps look to improve. 

Protecting the Defence.

Certainly in England’s early games, if not the later ones, there was a sense that the wins came at the cost of entertainment. The reason for this was quite simple. England’s defence was our weakest area.  Whilst we were scoring goals in the qualifying campaign, we also conceded them fairly regularly. From the side that scored the most goals per game in qualifying, England pivoted to being a defensive outfit that won two games 1-0 in the group stages alongside a 0-0 draw. The tactics were evident: he was protecting our weakest area and letting the attack speak for itself. Whilst England have become more expansive in the knockouts, it’s not at the expense of safety first.

This lessons isn’t directly translatable to club football, with the transfer market all important for Argyle. That said, Lowe alluded towards the tail end of last season that we might have to tweak some aspects of our style for team success. The signing of experienced pros like Wilson and Bolton just go to back this up. Let’s hope things go as well as can be hoped for. 

Togetherness 

What’s the first thing everyone thinks of when they look at this England side? It’s not just the results, it’s the overwhelming team spirit and sense of kinship that dominates the atmosphere. Gareth Southgate used his post match interview following the Ukraine game to praise the three players who were left out of England’s 23 man matchday squad. 

Southgate is clearly a manager who cultivates a happy team atmosphere where all players, playing or not playing are happy to be part of the process and will put in every effort both on and off the pitch. England were badly tested against Denmark for the first time by going a goal behind, but they responded brilliantly to it.

As for Argyle? Lowe’s comments to the media at the end of last season suggested Argyle were a ‘weak group’.  Now, that’s not to say that the dressing room was an necessarily an unpleasant place to be. Yet, even the most ardent of optimists will surely agree there is work to be done to create the ‘unbreakable’ mentality that England currently have. Again, let’s see how summer signings fare in that regard.

The Way Forward?

This is not to denigrate Ryan Lowe. He’s clearly a young manager of potential and one who has had success with both Argyle and Bury. However, everyone will agree last season didn’t go the way we’d planned. The best coaches are always magpie-like in their determination to steal ideas from influential managers of the era.

Maybe England will take it home on Sunday. Maybe they’ll just fall short. Either way, there is no denying that this tournament has been a success to define a generation. If Argyle can produce even half as much of the joy next season that England have over the past few weeks, we will be in for a satisfying season indeed. Hopefully our very own student of Southgate can use the success as a springboard for a new Argyle era. 

Competition & Cooper

Cardboard cut-outs, iFollow and empty stadium echoes became a regular feature during the 2020/21 season. Fans were unable to celebrate with their heroes following promotion to League One the previous campaign and, bar a handful of matches at limited capacity were reduced to the dreary experience of your typical armchair fan. I think I speak for each one of us in saying that I’m glad that’s now over!

The goalkeeping situation at Plymouth Argyle was one that separated many during the season. Many considered it a proud moment as highly-rated goalkeeper and local boy Michael Cooper finally got his chance. Others however, grumbled about a lack of competition and experience between the sticks as the Pilgrims leaked 80 goals during their first season back in England’s third tier. The 21-year-old has made 57 appearances for the Pilgrims since coming on for the injured Kyle Letheren as a substitute against Blackburn in October 2017. However he had to bide his time behind the scenes, first under Derek Adams and then Ryan Lowe.

This season will undoubtedly have been a learning curve for Cooper. Despite being plunged into the deep end with no experience he managed to demonstrate why he had become so highly rated before his introduction to the first team. Whilst there were occasionally blips in his game, statistically he was amongst the best in the division. The 6ft 1in man boasted the most saves in League One (154). He finished ahead of Wigan’s Jamie Jones (136) and Charlton’s Ben Amos (130). The Englishman’s total of 3.35 saves per 90 minutes also sees him rank him as the best in the division.

It would be fair to say that Cooper lacked competition last season. The influence of veteran Luke McCormick behind the scenes may have proved invaluable, but neither he or Jack Ruddy were realistic starters. Ryan Lowe only tended to rest Cooper for EFL Trophy trophy games. Scrutiny often came calling, as you would expect in a defence as leaky as Argyle’s during the campaign. Summer signings Macauley Gillesphey, James Wilson and Dan Scarr provide, on paper at least, a much more experienced and reliable defence. This should allow Cooper the chance to prove himself not only at this level, but show that he is capable of bigger things in future. Cooper and striker Luke Jephcott demonstrate how the Argyle academy is beginning to make serious strides forward.

Cooper’s vocal skills and commanding of his area were often in question. He operated behind a back three that included the equally inexperienced Jerome Opoku and Kelland Watts alongside Will Aimson. There is no doubting that the Devon born stopper has areas of his game that need improving, and last season will have certainly highlighted those all the more with the addition of iFollow and replays to scrutinise every error. Undoubtedly the weak links within his game will be a primary focus during pre-season. With time, experience and patience, errors and negative traits will begin to fade from his game.

The signing of Callum Burton from Cambridge will provide timely competition after his surprise release from Mark Bonner’s side. The Englishman started 26 games as they finished runners-up to Cheltenham Town in League Two. The 24-year-old’s arrival makes sense in all aspects in terms of age, quality and experience. The former Hull man kept an impressive nine clean sheets in 27 appearances for the U’s last season, conceding just 32 goals. Injury to regular first choice Dimitar Mitov paved the way for Burton to establish himself. His first appearance of the season didn’t come until December. All these indicators suggest that Burton hasn’t arrived at Home Park to play second fiddle.

Ryan Lowe has previously stressed the importance of having two competitive goalkeepers in his squad. This is something that Argyle have often failed to do in previous seasons. Vincent Dorel, Robbert te Loeke and James Bittner are all recent examples of this, making just a handful of appearances between them. Lowe’s first season saw Cooper challenge loanee Alex Palmer for the number one jersey. Despite not making a league appearance that season, it was clear in Lowe’s mind that he was ready. Burton should fulfil the same role, pushing Cooper to ever-better levels.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extra energy helps Argyle win Lincoln epic

Have you calmed down yet? I know I haven’t. Plymouth Argyle spent their Saturday afternoon in the sun locking horns with high-flying Lincoln City, and came away with a stunning 4-3 victory. Joe Edwards’ stoppage time winner drew the loudest celebration from myself and many others since we were confined to watching on iFollow, and whilst I’ve always missed going to Home Park during the crisis, I don’t think I’ve ever felt the sense of absence quite so much as this weekend.

Argyle’s encounter with the Imps was the sort of game the phrase “rollercoaster of emotions” was invented for. The Greens made a flying start when Kelland Watts’ centre forward instincts saw him net the opener, before Danny Mayor finally, after all these months, turned one of his mazing runs into a goal for himself. Then, we had the all too familiar collapse. Conor McGrandles got one back before Jorge Grant converted twice from the penalty spot, one after an awful tackle from Watts, and the other after an awful dive from Grant himself.

But it was Argyle who had the last laugh. One of the late goals was debatably given to Conor Grant, the other undoubtedly struck by Edwards, as Argyle fought hard right up to the final whistle to secure a dramatic win.

Extra energy pays dividends

Lincoln’s first and only change of the game came after 86 minutes, when captain Jorge Grant picked up a freak injury after appearing to be struck on the ankle by the ball. By that stage, Argyle had already made their five allotted substitutions, with Panutche Camara, Sam Woods, Luke Jephcott, Ben Reeves and Klaidi Lolos all introduced. It led to a disparity in energy levels as the game drew to a close, with one side fresh and chasing a winner, and the other looking exhausted having already put plenty of effort into turning the game around.

The differences are obvious when comparing the last 15 minutes of the game with the first 75. Of the ten shots Argyle had across the piece on Saturday, four came within the final quarter of an hour. Lincoln had an aerial duel success of 77% on the 75 minute mark, but saw that drop to 60% in the final 15 as the physical nature of them took its toll. A similar story can be seen in their pass success, which dropped from 77% to 70% across the same period, suggesting some more panicked long balls from some tired legs.

They aren’t huge drop-offs, but in a game as close as this one any decrease in performance is likely to make a significant difference. That’s exactly what we saw. Argyle brought their top scorer off the bench alongside a hungry young striker in Lolos and a remarkable physical specimen in Camara. Lincoln had nothing until there were only four minutes remaining, and even that was enforced. Even though they couldn’t be spurred on by a crowd, Argyle had enough energy in the closing stages to roll their opponents over.

Perhaps it wouldn’t have made a major difference overall, but Lincoln boss Michael Appleton may look back on his use of substitutions on Saturday as a point of regret.

Camara and Edwards impress

The conditions created in the game were perfect for two of Argyle’s stars of the season to shine. Panutche Camara and Joe Edwards would probably be the two Pilgrims you’d consider to have the highest work rate amongst the squad, based on this season’s evidence at least. And they were just the players Argyle needed to step up to the plate on Saturday. Did they? You bet.

Camara left his mark in exactly the way you’d expect: his running, his dribbling, and his ability to win back the ball. If the Lincoln defence weren’t tired before they had Camara running at the heart of them, they certainly were after. He was as effervescent as we’ve come to expect, and if we’re willing to give Argyle’s equaliser to Conor Grant, Camara would come away with the two assists that his general play deserved. The fact he was able to make such an impact after starting on the bench just makes his performance even sweeter.

Joe Edwards, meanwhile, demonstrated exactly what Argyle had been missing during his recent absence from the side. Take Argyle’s equaliser as an example. Even if we’re deciding not to award him the goal, the fact he even managed to get to the front post from his wing back position to meet the original cross was superb. Then, of course, he set himself up beautifully to score a dramatic winner in injury time, making an impact after the 90-minute mark despite just coming back from injury. Splendid. Is there any better candidate for the captain’s armband in the Argyle side at present than him?

For months now Argyle have lacked the character and ability to turn things around when they go sour. They’ve often entered into a state of panic, causing irreparable damage to their chances in certain games. On Saturday we saw the polar opposite, with both Camara and Edwards making telling contributions. It warmed the heart.

Is this what we were promised with Lowe?

When Ryan Lowe was appointed, one game that stuck out from his Bury reign was a 4-3 win over Milton Keynes. Lowe’s Shakers found themselves 3-1 down with 20 minutes to play, but managed to secure a dramatic turnaround victory in in injury time. Whilst we’ve had some dramatic games during Lowe’s reign at Argyle – a few 3-2s this season have done nothing for my heart – a late win from behind had been something we’d lacked. Until this weekend.

Saturday’s performance wasn’t perfect. I was feeling particularly glum when Lincoln’s third was tucked away, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone. But the way Argyle came roaring back was tremendous, and being able to win games like this will do wonders for the players’ confidence. It seems to me that this is indeed what we were promised when Lowe joined, and as frustrating as it can be at times, it makes for an engrossing watch when done right. One suspects this game may be one we look back on with joy for years to come.

Of course, it’s a crying shame nobody was there to witness Saturday’s events live. But if this is what we have to look forward to next season, sign me up straight away.

Argyle forced to hold on despite dominating Gillingham

Plymouth Argyle’s first game of 2021 was slightly odd. The stats would, pretty fairly, suggest that the Greens dominated the game. But look at any highlights package and you’ll notice it was their opponents Gillingham who had the better chances across the 90 minutes. Still, Argyle managed to get themselves a victory that could prove to be particularly crucial, especially after the 3-2 defeat against Oxford in midweek.

Ultimately, Argyle did well to play to their strengths to get their noses in front, particularly the prodigious Luke Jephcott. His goal on Saturday was his 14th in all competitions this season and, as we discussed in the aftermath of Argyle’s draw with Charlton, it feels as though he’s far from done.

Things at the other end felt a little more concerning, but Argyle clung on for the three points that make their position in League One seem a lot safer than it did three days ago.

Argyle’s strengths seal the deal

After the final whistle on Saturday, I remarked that this was a case of Argyle “winning ugly.” Looking back, I’d probably revise that claim slightly. Granted, it wasn’t the most fluent Argyle performance of all time, but they still played well (and, importantly, better than their opponents). Winning ugly is a label that can probably be put on a few games from last season; the 1-0 wins on away trips to Forest Green and Cheltenham, for instance.

Still, those two games and the win over Gillingham do all share one thing in common. In each fixture, Argyle played to their strengths to gain the advantage before holding on under pressure. Against Forest Green, Argyle worked a corner routine to allow Sarcevic to burst into the area and shoot, which he always loved. And at Cheltenham, Argyle used Zak Rudden’s movement in the penalty area to full effect. Rudden was never the best finisher, but that was negated on this occasion by his work to get into a position from which missing would be a near-impossibility. Don’t laugh.

On Saturday, Argyle’s main strengths came to the fore again to craft a lovely goal. Quite rightly, the spotlight has been thrust upon Jephcott’s finish; a wonderful first-time effort on his weaker foot into the corner of the net. But to get into that position, Joe Edwards’ energy worked the ball superbly from the right, allowing him to find fellow wing-back Conor Grant in space. From there, Grant’s cross was delicious, finding the perfect target in the penalty area. And so a goal was scored using Edwards’ energy, Grant’s technical ability and Jephcott’s finishing. In other words, it was perfectly crafted.

In truth, the Lowe philosophy was evident in Argyle’s play through much of the game. Playing out from the back was paramount, with Argyle’s back three all in the top five in terms of completed passes on the day. The other two occupants of that top five? Goalkeeper Mike Cooper and playmaker Danny Mayor. Argyle dominated the ball to the extent that Kelland Watts, with 77 passes, completed almost double the amount of Gills’ top passer Kyle Dempsey (41).

That domination of possession, surely ingrained into the psyche of each Argyle player by now, allowed the Greens to create chances at a greater rate than their opponents. One shot dragged wide by Edwards in the first half saw both Aimson and Watts involved in the build-up. And had Mayor put a smidgen more weight on a pass in the second half, Panutche Camara would have had the opportunity to finish a gorgeous team move. On another day, Argyle may have added more goals to reward their silky play.

Set-pieces still a worry

In the main, Argyle did have the better of the game, and created more chances across the 90 minutes. However, as discussed, the Greens didn’t have everything their own way, with some of the better-quality chances falling to Gillingham. Frustratingly, many of the problems leading to those chances were of Argyle’s own making.

Once again, set pieces proved to be Argyle’s Achilles heel. Gillingham will be kicking themselves that they didn’t take one of their big openings from such situations to steal a scarcely deserved point. Take a second half free kick, for example, when Connor Ogilvie was left completely unmarked at the back post before managing to divert his header over the bar from around four yards. Or a later corner which Cooper came for, completely missed, and Watts somehow managed to turn round his own post.

As we’ve so often seen in the past, Argyle were their own worst enemy at times. Cooper himself failed to cover himself in glory, looking notably shaky dealing with crosses all afternoon. Admittedly, my judgement of Cooper’s performance probably comes down entirely to his part in Matty Willock heading over in stoppage time. If Cooper did get a hand to the cross, it’s a match-winning save. If not, it’s a glaring error that almost costs Argyle the game. I wasn’t able to find a touch, but I’ve been told he did get a crucial fingertip on the cross. As a Cooper fan, I’m more than happy to believe it.

After Argyle’s defeat to Bristol Rovers last month, I wondered exactly what went on in training. Lowe gave us that insight after the Gillingham win, mentioning that they had prepared for corners, free kicks and long throws in the build-up. As promising as that is, it didn’t seem to help this weekend. Maybe that’s something to do with the fact that Argyle don’t have any attacking players that aren’t called Frank Nouble who can pose a regular aerial challenge during those drills.

We’ve mentioned that on another day Argyle would have scored a few more. Equally, on another day they may have lost the points due to their shoddy set-piece defending. Luckily it didn’t matter on this occasion, but the issue still needs fixing.

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?

Preview: Plymouth Argyle v MK Dons

Both Plymouth Argyle and MK Dons will be feeling the pressure heading into Saturday’s League One encounter at Home Park. The Pilgrims have lost six matches in a row for the first time since 2011. Meanwhile, despite coming to Devon in better form, Russell Martin’s side have only won four of their 18 league matches this season following Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Peterborough.  

 

Match Stats 

This will be the fifth meeting between the two sides. Argyle have won three whilst MK Dons picked up their only win when the two sides last met at Home Park in 2017.  

MK Dons have lost their final game before Christmas in each of the last six seasons. Their last win was when they beat Oldham 7-0 in 2014. 

Argyle have conceded two or more goals in seven of their last eight League One matches. 

 

Line-Up 

Defender Daniel Harvie will be suspended after picking up his fifth red card of the season against Peterborough on Tuesday night. 

Russell Martin has no fresh injury concerns. The trio of Jay Bird, Louis Thompson and Jordan Houghton are all long-term absentees. 

Predicted Line-Up (3-5-2)

Fisher 

O’Hora, Keogh, Lewington 

Williams, Sørenson, Kasumu, Fraser, Sorinola 

Jerome, Morris 

 

Style of Play 

Playing in a 3-5-2 formation, Russell Martin’s side play a style of football that sees them convincingly dominate possession, averaging 60.5% from their 18 games which is by far the highest in the division. This, twinned with their 83% passing accuracy means that they are incredibly difficult to dispossess. This is achieved through an aggressive pressing of their opponents and playing short, direct passes. Unlike a number of sides, they don’t rely on pacey wingers in order to create chances but instead look to play through the middle.  

Attacking midfielder Scott Fraser is vastly important to the Dons’ style of play. The 25-year-old has scored or assisted seven of his side’s 20 league goals this season. The higher defensive workrate of fellow midfielders David Kasumu and Lasse Sørenson allow him to stay forward, thus lowering his own defensive responsibilities so he can focus driving the side forward when they regain the ball. Playing for fellow League One side Burton last season, Fraser managed a very impressive 11 assists but has only managed just one so far this campaign. His goal tally (five) has already been surpassed but in a side that heavily dominate possession, it has often been the fault of the finishers that his influence on the side this season hasn’t been better rewarded 

A surprise summer signing, 34-year-old Cameron Jerome returned to England following two seasons with Turkish outfit, Göztepe. The forward already has five goals and an assist to his name in 14 appearances this season. Having lost much of the blistering pace that made him so potent earlier in his career, the former Derby man now relies on his physicality and the ability to hold up the ball. The veteran often uses these abilities to sit on the shoulder of the last defender, looking to receive a through ball, most often supplied by teammate Scott Fraser. The duo’s effectiveness in doing so is another reason why Dons often like to keep the ball centrally. 

Carlton Morris partners Jerome in the 3-5-2 formation. The 25-year-old rejoined the club on-loan from Championship side Norwich at the beginning of the season. Similar in many ways to his strike partner, Morris possesses more pace and his physical nature allows him to make long runs with the ball. An excellent example of this was in MK’s 2-1 defeat to Accrington at the beginning of December which saw him pick up the ball in his own half before running through and slotting the ball in. Not a prolific goalscorer by any means, his performances this season have begun to attract interest from bigger clubs and Russell Martin’s side could face a fight to keep hold of the loanee beyond January. It is likely that he will pose a strong threat to Argyle in the same way Bristol Rovers’ Ben Hanlan did a fortnight ago.  

 

 

Weaknesses 

Scoring goals has been MK Dons’ weak point so far this season. Whilst heavily dominating possession in almost all of their games, Russell Martin’s side have only scored 20 goals in 18 games. Whilst their record of 23 goals conceded is nothing to be ashamed of, only Wimbledon (27) are above them in the table and have conceded more. The suggestion has been that whilst their play is often easy on the eye, it doesn’t count for much if the club aren’t picking up the right results. 

Prediction (1-1) 

Possession orientated but wasteful in front of goal is a description that is fair of both teams heading into this bottom end of the table encounter. It’s unclear exactly how Argyle will set up after their change of formation and the abandonment of Ryan Lowe’s beloved 3-1-4-2 formation against Crewe during the week. The unpredictability should work in Dons’ favour however who have both a settled system and a much more settled side. In recent weeks the Pilgrims have faltered against equally out of form sides such as Ipswich and Bristol Rovers. However, in front of a Home Park crowd and much pressure, a draw is likely to stop the rot, at least for now.  

Green & White: How to turn this around?

Plymouth Argyle are now on a run of six consecutive league defeats after losses to Bristol Rovers and Crewe Alexandra. How can they turn it around?

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