Sarcevic leaves Argyle; here’s to you, Antoni

After three-and-a-half years at the club, Plymouth Argyle midfielder and fan favourite Antoni Sarcevic has left after turning down a contract extension.

Manager Ryan Lowe has said Sarcevic cited his decision as a family one, wanting to move closer to his native Manchester. Whilst this decision may come as a surprise to some, most will surelyunderstand the decision by a player who has given so much to the green shirt of Argyle.

Sarcevic ends his time in Devon with two promotions, a relegation and an enthralling playoff push on his CV, and with that in mind, it would be rude not to look back on a player who has epitomised what it means to represent the club, and one that has given us so many fond memories.

Sarcevic joined Argyle in January 2017 after a frustrating six months at Shrewsbury Town in League One, making just twelve appearances before being released in the December. That transfer window also saw Ryan Taylor join from Oxford United, two astute acquisitions which saw both make an immediate impact – Sarcevic scored the only goal in a 0-1 away win at Cambridge United with a well placed header on his first start for the club.

Whilst Taylor’s impact could not be ignored with his superb hold up play, Sarcevic was quietly effective as he featured fifteen more times as Argyle were promoted in second place to League One.

The next season was much more of a mixed bag for Sarcevic as Argyle started the season off slowly. Sarcevic, for his part, played in a 0-4 home defeat to Scunthorpe United was sent off for a headbutt on Paddy Madden. After a 3-1 loss to Bradford city in December 2017, he didn’t feature in any of the next four games as Argyle won three and drew one of those.

Things took an upturn for Sarcevic and Argyle though as after being re-introduced into the starting lineup for the win over Walsall on New Years Day, Sarcevic started the next nine games in a run which saw Argyle win seven games, only losing to eventual champions Wigan Athletic. He played an integral role in the 4-3-2-1 system that Derek Adams deployed so successfully in the second half of the seaso, and it’s such a shame that injury hit at just the wrong time for the Mancunian.

The 2018/19 season needs little explaining (it has been covered many times already, and frankly I think it’s better if I leave it out for the entertainment purposes of this piece). To cut a long story short, Argyle were relegated back to League Two, in a season which was a negative one for more or less everybody, other than perhaps the likes of Freddie Ladapo and Ruben Lamieras.

Sarcevic made 37 appearances in the league, contributing three goals and four assists.

Whilst the numbers in isolation may not be eye watering, his work ethic in wanting to put things right after relegation, and most importantly stay put when he could’ve so easily have left, really cemented his place in the hearts of the Green Army. That is perhaps a tribute to the character of the man himself.

Speaking of character, Sarcevic responded excellently to question marks over his level of involvement in the side after Ryan Lowe’s appointment as manager last summer.

Initially, he was considered perhaps not technically refined enough to be a second number 8 in Lowe’s ball playing 3-4-1-2 system, even though he has obvious qualities.

Conversely, although no less effective in my opinion, it is the more technically gifted Danny Mayor, who has played the role of facilitator, whilst Sarcevic has used his strong running and tenacity to clinch the top of the Argyle scoring charts with 11 goals and 6 assists in all competitions, his best since a breakthrough 15 goal season at Fleetwood in the same division six years ago.

Within those eleven goals, it is the stunner at Salford and the curler that won the game at Forest Green that spring to mind, but perhaps most fittingly his final Home Park goal, in front of the fans that he had built such a connection with, a penalty in the 2-1 win over Crewe, is the one that ultimately clinched promotion.

131 appearances 20 goals 15 assists, one Antoni Sarcevic.

Once A Pilgrim: Farewell The Ginger Zlatan

After spending much of his career on the Home Park treatment table, Plymouth Argyle manager Ryan Lowe decided to not to offer forward Ryan Taylor a new deal along with five other Pilgrims ahead of their return to League One at the first attempt.

The ‘Ginger Zlatan’ as he was affectionately known by the Argyle faithful spent nearly three-and-a-half years in Devon, making 98 appearances in all competitions, scoring 13 times but spent much of his time at the club plagued by injuries. However, when fit and available, Taylor more than proved his worth and was an integral part of the side during Derek Adams’ tenure as manager.

The 32-year-old joined from Oxford United during the 2017 January transfer window and would go on to score four times in 18 appearances, most notably in a 3-0 win against Exeter, terrorising the Grecians defence all afternoon as the Pilgrims gained promotion to League One that season.

The following season was undoubtedly when the Green Army saw the best of the former Rotherham man. His return from a broken ankle, sustained in the opening day defeat to Peterborough, twinning with the emergence of winger Ruben Lameiras saw a massive upturn in form as Derek Adams’ side narrowly missed out on the play-offs.

The partnership with the aforementioned Lameiras and Graham Carey swiftly became one of the most feared attacking trios in League One. They registered 51 goals and assists between them that season with Taylor responsible for 10 of those (5G, 5A). Whilst hardly earth shattering, Adams hadn’t signed the 6ft 1in man with the intention of getting 20 goals a season out of him and never did, but rather for his hold-up play and passing abilities.

With the former Pompey player in the side, the Pilgrims lost just twice in 21 league games to Wigan and Charlton respectively whilst picking up very impressive wins against Blackburn, Rotherham and Peterborough in the process, all games in which he scored.

The latter part of Taylor’s career at Argyle is where his struggles began. Following his tremendous 2017/18 showing, he found himself down the pecking order when available as Adams favoured new signing Freddie Ladapo. During a season in which Ladapo would score 18 goals it was difficult to argue against his presence in the side. The former Crystal Palace man was a different sort of player, offering pace and standing on the last man rather the more traditional forward role that Taylor provided. This showed throughout the season with Ladapo proving to be that little bit more selfish in his play. In some ways, this benefited Argyle, but not necessarily the likes of Graham Carey who, unlike the previous season, wasn’t receiving as much of the ball in order to work his magic in the final third.

Taylor found himself reduced to an impact role which didn’t suit his playing style unless Argyle were looking to hold onto the lead as his physical attributes could often slow down play and frustrate opposition sides. Despite making a very respectable 33 League One appearances, 27 of those came from the bench as he failed to record a single goal or assist during a campaign in which Argyle failed to score in 16 of their 46 league games (34%).

With relegation to League Two confirmed that season and Ryan Lowe taking over the reins from Adams, Taylor was lauded with praise during pre-season with the Liverpudlian claiming he had a 20 goal forward on his hands. As we now know this estimation was some way off and was most likely a form of motivation for the player at the time. The Englishman started the season impressively, however. Taylor’s brace in a 3-0 win over Walsall in August was his first since October 2015 during Oxford’s 5-1 win over Stevenage. He added to his tally a few days later in the League Cup defeat to Reading. Sadly injury once again took over once more and when fully fit again, the impressive form of Luke Jephcott and Ryan Hardie limited him to cameo appearances from the bench.

In truth, Taylor is perhaps not what you would consider to be a ‘Ryan Lowe player’. The former Bury man prefers more of a Ladapo type of player in terms of pace, playing on the last man and positioning. This is particularly with creative and more technically gifted players like George Cooper and Danny Mayor in the side who can do all the hard work to get into the final third. This means unlike before, there isn’t such an impetus to play through the middle or hoof the ball up field. With such a poor injury record, coupled with promotion to League One, there’s very little surprise that Lowe didn’t want to take the risk. The space in the squad will allow a new signing to rival Dom Telford and Jephcott, should he sign a new deal to add some more competition for the upcoming campaign ahead.

All Argyle fans will wish him the best of luck for the future.

Story of the Season: 2017/18

It looks like we’ll be waiting quite a while to see Plymouth Argyle in action once more, and even longer before we’ll be permitted to enter the ground to see them. In these most uncertain times, a little nostalgia can go a long way. With no live action to report, we’re going to be taking a trip down memory lane and looking at some Argyle seasons gone by.

Today, we’ll start by looking at Argyle’s first season back in League One: 2017/18.

Pre-season

It was incredibly difficult not to be excited. After the best part of a decade in the doldrums, Plymouth Argyle were back. Progress had been slow, painfully slow at times. But that mattered no more; whatever happened over the next 12 months, the Greens would finish higher up the pyramid than the season prior. Rejoice.

With James Brent at the helm in the boardroom, promotion was hardly going to be met with a lavish spending spree. But manager Derek Adams had always been capable of working on a shoestring budget. Shrewd summer signings including Ryan Edwards, Jamie Ness and Aaron Taylor-Sinclair helped to bolster Argyle’s squad. Gregg Wylde returned, whilst Argyle also wrestled another winger, Joel Grant, away from Exeter City. Promotion had gone a long way to proving there had only ever been one team in Devon.

Another signing that summer came in the form of Portuguese playmaker Ruben Lameiras. Recently relegated with Coventry, he entered pre-season with a point to prove, and it showed. Argyle avoided defeat in all but one game (a 1-0 reverse to Cardiff City) and achieved a frankly unbelievable 0-0 draw with Dutch champions Feyenoord. It was time to go.

August

Glorious defeat met the opening day of the season – Argyle deserved more, but went down 2-1 away at Peterborough. Ryan Taylor’s injury during the game would prove to be a huge blow. A 5-0 defeat in the Carabao cup days later saw a far poorer performance, but Argyle resisted the urge to refund travelling supporters in the face of some laughable claims.

Luckily, the Green Army had just a few more days to wait before properly arriving on the League One scene. Jake Jervis netted both goals in a 2-0 victory over Charlton at Home Park which also saw this preposterous save from Luke McCormick. Surely there could be no doubt that he’d have a big part to play this season, right?

 

A draw away at Southend followed, leaving Argyle with four points from three games and in an optimal position to push on. Alas, the fun ended there. Argyle shipped four goals in a crushing home defeat by Scunthorpe, concluding the encounter with ten men following Antoni Sarcevic’s dismissal. That would become a running theme. Conor McGregor boxed Floyd Mayweather on the same day, and some of Argyle’s actions across the next month wouldn’t have looked out of place in the ring.

September

Kyle Letheren joined Argyle at the start of the month, but the excitement surrounding a new signing was hardly palpable. He was a third-choice goalkeeper – surely we’d never see him play.

On the pitch, defeats to Walsall and MK Dons, the latter of which saw Graham Carey sent off, left Argyle in the relegation places. That was nothing to worry about, right? We were at the stage of the season where any string of defeats would make the table look crummy, but there was still plenty of time to turn things around.

The situation, however, deteriorated rapidly. Defeat to Blackpool saw Edwards sent off, before a McCormick-inspired Argyle somehow escaped with a 0-0 draw following a torrid performance away at Bury. It was Argyle’s first point for just shy of a month, but those hoping it would spark a turnaround were sadly mistaken. Argyle were demolished 3-0 by Doncaster at Home Park, and Sonny Bradley decided he fancied punching an opponent. Red card. Again.

 

The last thing Argyle needed at this stage was a trip to a high-flying opponent. So of course, the impending trip to Wigan summed up Argyle’s predicament rather neatly. Remarkably, Letheren got his chance less than a month after signing, with McCormick and second choice Robbert te Loeke injured. He and Argyle played fairly well, but still went down 1-0.

Letheren remained between the sticks for a trip to Bristol Rovers the following weekend, as Argyle again found themselves behind. Red cards, however, were conspicuous in their absence until a two-footed challenge from Gary Miller put an end to the brief respite.

 

September saw six defeats in seven league games, and four times as many red cards as points. Torrid.

October

Argyle’s conveyer belt of defeats showed no sign of slowing as Fleetwood became the latest side to leave Home Park with all three points. However, frank dressing room exchange following it may have helped turn the side’s fortunes around. Alongside that, Argyle brought in experienced midfielder Toumani Diagouraga on a short-term deal. Could he really be expected to make a meaningful impact in such limited time?

Diagouraga’s signature conincided with Adams’ subtle switch from a 4-2-3-1 style to a 4-3-2-1, which would prove to be a masterstroke. Under pressure, Argyle followed up with consecutive 1-1 draws against Shrewsbury and Blackburn, both highly respectable results given the high-flying nature of the opponents. Both games saw Graham Carey (who else?) open the scoring for the Greens in incredible fashion.

 

 

The second half of the Blackburn fixture saw an injured Letheren replaced in goal by Argyle’s fourth custodian of the season, 18-year-old Mike Cooper. He put in a performance to be proud of, but that didn’t stop Argyle dipping into the emergency loan market for Norwich’s Remi Matthews. He started and kept goal admirably in a 1-0 victory away at Wimbledon, just Argyle’s second of the campaign, with Grant’s winning goal sparking joyous scenes. Matthews was kept on for another week as the Greens then picked up another point against Rochdale.

Argyle were still rooted to the bottom of the league, but the tanker was finally starting to turn.

November

A Graham Carey screamer helped Argyle defeat Grimsby in the FA Cup, but it’s the next league game that proved to be particularly memorable. Argyle, bottom of the league, travelled to promotion-challenging Bradford more in hope than expectation, but came away with a marvellous single-goal victory. Jervis scored the winner, but the highlight of the game was a second-half penalty save by Matthews, demonstrating exactly why he was rapidly becoming a fan favourite.

 

Sadly, the good times couldn’t last. After keeping their discipline for well over a month by this stage, Argyle saw Ryan Edwards dismissed after 14 minutes against Oxford, who romped to a 4-0 victory at Home Park. The Greens then experienced contrasting fortunes across the following days, comfortably defeating Northampton before going down 1-0 at Fratton Park against Portsmouth, this time via a Matthews error.

 

Argyle were at least improving on the field, but ended yet another month at the foot of League One.

December

The goalkeeping situation was now beyond parody. Matthews had picked up a knock, so Argyle played with a clearly unfit McCormick for an FA Cup tie away at Bradford. He had a shocker, and his side were dumped out following a 3-1 victory for the Bantams.

It led to Argyle lining up their seventh goalkeeper of the season (Will Mannion played against Yeovil in the Checkatrade Trophy). This time it was Kelle Roos on loan from Derby, who made his Argyle debut against fellow strugglers Gillingham. At the very end of a tense encounter, it was new boy Diagouraga who scored the winning goal to spark wild scenes around Home Park.

 

This time, Argyle were able to take momentum from their victory into the crucial festive period. Despite a gut-wrenching last-minute equaliser denying the Greens all three points against Rotherham, wins against Oldham (4-1) and MK Dons (1-0) certainly made Christmas feel merrier. Then, just before New Year’s Eve, Graham Carey got the party started early with this outrageous goal against Blackpool.

 

Frustratingly, Argyle let a two-goal lead slip in that game, and had to settle for a point. However, they were at least out of the relegation zone as 2018 arrived.

January

Remember when New Year celebrations were not tainted with a sense of terror and dread about what the next 12 months may bring? Me neither. But New Year’s Day in 2018 was at least a good one for Argyle. Ryan Taylor, finally back to full fitness after his injury on opening day, scored the only goal as the Greens saw of Walsall at Home Park to further strengthen their position.

A few days later, Argyle saw off Bury 3-0 at the same ground. A certain Ryan Lowe sent off for the visitors for a horror tackle on Matthews, who had returned for the rest of the season following Roos’ departure at the start of the transfer window. The Green Army would surely never welcome Mr Lowe back to the city.

 

That would prove to be Diagouraga’s final game for Argyle, and just one point followed from the next two games. First, Argyle drew 1-1 against Doncaster, when opposition manager Darren Ferguson called for a massacre of poor referees. It was certainly a novel approach.

Argyle then lost 3-1 at home to eventual title-winners Wigan. Defender Zak Vyner made his debut, but it was tinged with sadness. His introduction was only necessary because of Ryan Edwards’ testicular cancer diagnosis, which was announced in the build-up to the Wigan fixture. It put everything on the field into perspective.

Buoyed by a sense of togetherness following the shocking news, Argyle ended the month strongly. A 2-1 win over Oldham saw them knocking on the door of the top half – who could have predicted that just a couple of months prior?

February

February proved to be Argyle’s best month of the season. It opened up with a commanding victory over high-flying Blackburn, with Lameiras netting the opener, and Taylor finishing off one of the great counter-attacking moves of the campaign.

 

Argyle again faced a promotion-chasing side in their following fixture, visiting Shrewsbury. In a true test of character, the Greens recovered from a goal behind, having missed a penalty, to win the game. Vyner notched the decisive goal in front of a delirious away following. Three days later, Argyle completed a league double over Wimbledon by prevailing 4-2 in one of the best demonstrations of Derek Adams’ 4-3-2-1 system one is likely to find. David Fox, vital to the system, also chipped in with a cracker. The celebration wasn’t bad either.

 

The Wimbledon game was probably the best of the season – it had everything. And, when Argyle followed it up with consecutive 1-0 wins over Oxford and Bradford, Argyle fans were daring to dream of a wholly unexpected promotion challenge. After all, a 100% record across the month of February was always going to bring with it a wave of optimism.

March

Argyle went into March on the brink of the play-off places following six consecutive league wins. A 1-1 draw away at Fleetwood, which would have been seen as a fine result a few months prior, was met with disappointment. Luckily, Argyle followed this up with another win in another one of the games of the season. At home to Bristol Rovers on a snowy (!) St Patrick’s Day afternoon, the Greens fell behind twice and missed a penalty, but prevailed 3-2 following Carey’s winner with five minutes to play.

Disappointment followed, as Argyle were defeated for just the second time since the turn of the year away at Charlton. Lee Bowyer was experiencing his first game in management in the home dugout, and masterminded the Addicks to a 2-0 victory.

But Argyle didn’t let it impact their momentum, and followed up with one of their most dominant performances of the season against Southend on Good Friday. The Green Army were treated to some terrific football, and their side deservedly came away 4-0 winners.

Argyle were in the play-off positions, but there were some big fixtures in the run-in to come.

April

Argyle’s first game in April was a huge encounter with fellow play-off challengers Peterborough, now managed by odious pie enthusiast Steve Evans. Argyle were hit by an injury to Matthews, and Peterborough took the lead as league top-scorer Jack Marriott lobbed stand-in Letheren. Taylor equalised, and two Peterborough red cards followed, for Liam Shepherd and Stephen Taylor. With the game in its dying embers, Carey’s stoppage time winner from the penalty spot sent Home Park into hysterics. Evans approaching the referee in gammon-faced rage after the full-time whistle made the day even sweeter.

 

The news which followed, despite all the success of the recent months, will surely go down as the moment of the season. Shortly after the Peterborough victory, Ryan Edwards announced he had received the all clear from doctors regarding his cancer treatment. It would, of course, be a while before he was able to take to the field once more, but it was just another boost to bring everybody together at a time of great success for the club.

On the pitch, the Greens had propelled themselves to 5th place, but injuries were becoming a major issue. Even Paul Paton had to have the occasional run out. Matthews again sat out Argyle’s next fixture against Portsmouth, and was joined on the treatment table by Taylor, a key cog in the Derek Adams machine. The 0-0 draw spoke volumes of Argyle’s impotent attack on the day.

Matthews did return for Argyle’s game away at Northampton, but the squad was looking more threadbare by the day. Matthews performed well at Sixfields which, given the insipid performances elsewhere, probably stopped Argyle’s hosts scoring four or five.

Now having not scored in two games, Argyle’s play-off hopes were dwindling at the end of the month. Still without many key individuals, they played host to eventual play-off winners Rotherham at Home Park. Hopes, it’s fair to say, were not high, particularly when the Millers took the lead in the first half. But somehow, Argyle hung in there, equalised through Grant, and had the chance to win the game from the spot in stoppage time. Much like against Peterborough, Carey made no mistake.

 

May & end of season

Argyle’s play-off prospects hinged on two games in the final month of the season, both away from home. It did, however, become apparent that the Rotherham victory was papering over the cracks in Argyle’s crumbling squad. The Greens were defeated on both occasions, first by Scunthorpe who did make the play-offs, before being thrashed 5-2 by Gillingham on the final day. It meant Argyle finished seventh, just one place away from the play-offs.

There was no shame in that. Injuries meant that Argyle ran out of steam as the season drew to a close, but the fact they were even in the promotion picture was miraculous. For a first season back in League One, Plymouth Argyle had left their mark, and proved that they had all the tools to be a force in the upper echelons of the football league again.

All the more phenomenally, this came after an appalling start to the campaign where Argyle seemed to be relegation certainties up until Christmas. The turnaround, however, was magnificent. Argyle’s opponents gradually converted from “fellow strugglers” to “fellow challengers”. The Greens just had to consolidate the squad in the summer, and surely another promotion challenge would follow…

Player Ratings: Plymouth Argyle 3 Grimsby 0

Three goals, three points and back in the top three, some night eh? Overall, it was comfortable for Argyle, who could have won 6-0 given the three efforts that hit the woodwork.

Alex Palmer, GK – 7

Rarely tested on a night that Argyle dominated from the moment they took the lead. Made a couple of saves from shots he would have been expected to stop, with his biggest test coming from a close-range header that he was down quickly to parry away. The only question for him tonight was whether he could have pushed rebounds into safer areas, but that is a small query.

Passing out from the back was good too. As confidence grew following the early goals, he and Canavan were more inclined to take a risk or two and play through the lines without causing problems for themselves.

Scott Wootton, CB – 7

It largely went unnoticed, but it was Wootton’s tackle on the edge of the box which set Bakinson away to stroll past Grimsby’s exposed midfield and play an excellent pass right through the middle of their defence to set Hardie away for the second. It wasn’t his only smart intervention, often getting his timing spot on to turnover possession and get Argyle running in the opposite direction. Composed, controlled and effective.

Niall Canavan, CB – 7

A good night for Canavan as he mopped up most of the balls that reached him. Strong in the air to cut off Grimsby’s direct route to goal, good in possession and broke Grimsby’s press with passes under pressure (although his long passes were far more miss than hit).

His biggest question mark was when he tried to play an offside trap, only to allow Green to run through. However, the striker was wide and Canavan recovered well to cut his route to goal off and slow the attack as they saw the danger off.

Callum McFadzean, CB – 5

So, sooo, close to giving away a penalty at 0-0. Taken on, one-versus-one, in his own area, he was beaten and fell over eight yards from goal, but somehow managed to get his body in the way of the ball and not handle it. This was a hugely fortunate moment, as he could have easily made contact and was not in control at that moment. For the second time in a handful of starts at centre-back, he was very fortunate to not give away a penalty inside the opening 15 minutes.

McFadzean didn’t have a bad game, it’s more that I think five justifies the fact he was the weakest link in the defence on a night that was comfortable for his other defenders and was made the most sloppy mistakes in giving the ball away in his own half.

Bryon Moore, RWB – 6

Quiet. Not helped by the change in formation that saw Bakinson and Grant spend most of the game playing together in defensive midfield. That saw Mayor lost in central-attacking midfield and the two wing-backs isolated. George Cooper coped just fine, given he could swing in a cross from his own half and still have a decent change at finding its target, but Moore clearly needed more support, which he didn’t get.

Tyreeq Bakinson, DM – 8

In a three-way race for man of the match with Cooper and Ryan Hardie, he misses out because he went off the boil in the second half and lost possession in his own half on more than two occasions, a habit he really needs to break.

Superb late run into the box for the opening goal – so superb that he almost seemed offside given how dumbfounded Grimsby’s defenders were at how much space he was in. Then, an outstanding, inch-perfect, forty-yard through-pass that bisected Grimsby’s centre-backs and put Hardie away to go around the ‘keeper and double the lead.

Conor Grant, DM – 6

First, the negatives. Grant was suspect defensively for most of the night. At the beginning, he was regularly out of position as Clarke and Whitehouse found the pocked of space behind him and threatened. The night got easier for him as Argyle dominated the end of the first-half and then the pace of the game collapsed in the second, but in a game that was competitive past the 40th minute he would have been under the microscope more and will need to do better.

For the positives, a great driving run on the counter in the first five minutes saw him present Hardie with an early sight of goal, he was oh-so-close to scoring a wonderful goal from 30 yards – great save – and he played a smart cross into the box that Canavan flicked on before the third goal (very hard to tell who actually scored it).

George Cooper, LWB – 8, player of the match

In the end, I chose Cooper as the player of the match because of the sheer volume of chances he created. Why on earth was he dropped in the first place? His assists may have dried up in the four game stretch between Colchester and Macclesfield, but it wasn’t for the lack of crossing. He could have had two assists against Salford and Macclesfield apiece had finishing not been lacking.

Here, he could have had a hattrick of assists. There was the brilliant ball in for the opening goal – a cross that singularly picks out a runner into the box, perfectly matching his stride – is virtually indefensible. In the second he cut back for Hardie to tap in, only for him to mistime his effort and put it into the ‘keeper’s arms, and then you can pick one of three other crosses that found the dangerous area in the box, only for nobody to attack the cross.

Cooper wasn’t as good defensively as he had been before he was dropped, but that was mostly when he pushed up high, meaning that any player who got around him still had to travel fifty-yards to goal. When defending the edge of his box, he continued to show an every growing understanding of where to be, when to stick a foot in, and how to anticipate the path of the ball. It’s becoming a bit of an urban legend that Cooper is a liability defensively (and yes, I know, he’ll commit a defensive howler against Macclesfield).

Danny Mayor, AM – 6

Pushed forward into an attacking-midfield role, but it didn’t work. Argyle play too many of their passes out to the wing-backs and long to the strikers, meaning that he was just never near the ball. He had to drop deep to get possession, but then his only pass was wide, long or backwards, which is not what he wants to do.

He was involved at times, but when Argyle could have won 6-0, you don’t want to hear that the attacking midfielder wasn’t that involved. His best moment came when he very nearly picked an excellent through-ball to set Edwards away in the box, but it was narrowly intercepted. It was also his shot that rebounded to Edwards for his miss-of-the-season contender (not that he has a chance in that competition, Zak Rudden has had the entire top-three locked up since November).

Luke Jephcott, ST – 7

Was it his goal? All the television angles are inconclusive – before anyone says they definitely saw it cross the line, the replays are thus far from angles that prevent you from knowing for certain. Nevertheless, it was given and he now has more non-penalty goals than any other player at the club this season!

Worked but it mostly didn’t come off for him as it did for Hardie. His only other chance came after he was superbly played through by his strike-partner, but his first-time volley crashed against the crossbar from ten-yards.

Ryan Hardie, ST – 9 player of the match

Scratch that, I’ve watched the highlights since I started writing this and have now decided that Hardie was the best player sorry George. I mean, let’s start with his goal. Bakinson gets a lot of credit, but it was Hardie who was alive to the potential and put himself exactly where he needed to be to get away, on the inside shoulder of the defender for the ball through the middle when so many of Argyle’s strikers would have been peeling away for a ball into the channel. From there, he ran it at great speed but also under great control to get away from the defence – which is not as easy as it looks, a foot race is very different when one person is also dribbling a football – and finished it expertly.

Before then, he showed great technique to control a rebound on the angle and crash a half-volley against the post to nearly make it 1-0, as well as finding the back of the net after Bakinson opened the scoring, only for it to be ruled out by an accidental hand-ball as he was controlling it. It should be noted that the ‘keeper might have stopped with the whistle, and so could have saved the shot if he tried.

He put away the third, playing on when others around him stopped, but that has now been given to Jephcott (though it might rightfully be his) then spurned his semi-hattrick chance when Cooper’s cut-back met him perfectly, only for Hardie to be unable to open his boot up more and play it into the far corner. Finally, the key-factor in him overtaking Cooper, was his perfect ball over the top to put Jephcott away. An outstanding pass to render both the centre-backs completely useless.

A hattrick and an assist was not that far away on what was probably his best performance for the club to-date.

Substitutes

Joe Edwards, RWB – 6

What? How did he miss it? Three yards, goalkeeper on the floor, tap in? Aaaaaaand he hit the post. Jeez. Showed good movement to be nearly put clean-through by Mayor, only for a good interception to spoil the fun.

Ryan Taylor, ST – n/a

Back from injury, needed minutes, the game was dead, so how long did he get? About eight of them. Including stoppage time, Argyle were out of sight with 51 minutes to go, so why couldn’t he come on earlier? He literally touched the ball twice, what a wasted opportunity.

Dominic Telford, ST – n/a

See above, except four minutes and one touch. Lowe’s only mistake on the night. Can there be anything more frustrating as a striker to be brought on like that?

Pitch and players contribute to Bradford defeat

This isn’t a game that will live long in the memory for the quality of football on show. But as a spectacle, it’s possibly one of the most fascinating games we’ve been able to witness this season.

Plymouth Argyle travelled to Bradford to play on an absolute bog of a pitch. They went a goal down, had a man sent off, went two goals down, had another man sent off, and somehow scored with nine men on the field. Argyle lost the game, but there are numerous lessons we are able to learn from the encounter.

The only problem? It’s incredibly unlikely we’ll see a game played in similar circumstances again.

Argyle take their time to adapt

Storm Jorge had already put the game in doubt with a deluge the night before, and at 10:30 on the day of the game a pitch inspection looked as though it may force the Green Army to turn back early. Inexplicably, referee Carl Boyeson decided to wait two-and-a-half hours before making a decision, but finally, just before 1, we had confirmation that the game would go ahead.

But that’s not to say conditions were perfect for the game. As we know, quite the opposite was true. Snow hit Valley Parade as the game approached, and the section of the pitch in front of the travelling support barely had any turf on it at all. It did lead to some comedic incidents of officials and coaches slipping over (we all saw you, Jimmy Dickinson), but it hardly gave anybody confidence that conditions were conducive to a good game of football.

And yet, initially at least, that’s exactly what Argyle tried to play. In the first half, it was still the Greens’ intention to play the ball out from the back, usually through some short distribution from Alex Palmer, before either working the ball to Danny Mayor or launching the ball into a channel for the strikers to run onto. Similar indeed to what we’ve seen in recent weeks and months, but on a pitch that just did not allow that to happen.

We saw in the very early stages just how the pitch was making this game a real lottery. A long Bradford ball looked as though it was harmlessly working its way out for an Argyle throw, but got stuck in the mud. Not only did it allow Clayton Donaldson a run at the Argyle goal, it also delivered a sign that winning this particular lottery, or taking the pitch out of the equation, would be the key to winning. Argyle picked that up far too late.

Ryan Lowe changed things at half time. Ryan Taylor and Ryan Hardie became the new strikeforce, and Argyle switched to playing the ball long at the first instance. Not Lowe’s ideal style of play, but needs must. Argyle had some joy with this setup – Taylor was always best placed to bring down those long balls, and Hardie could run onto them if they were played a little further forward. It wasn’t perfect. It was never going to be. But Argyle at least got themselves onto an even keel.

If Lowe had been keener to adapt before the game, who knows how it would have progressed?

Old problems come to the fore

One particularly notable aspect of Saturday’s game was the return of old problems into Argyle’s play. Issues that we thought were one, two, or even three years old came to the fore and plagued Argyle throughout the encounter, and contributed to the highly disappointing defeat.

Take Scott Wootton, for instance. Whilst last season was a horror show for the ex-Manchester United man, this season he’s undoubtedly improved. Granted, the system has helped him, but he’s certainly been ‘alright’ enough as the season has gone on, rather than his former…inadequate self. His aerial ability has always been a worry, however, and it reared its ugly head again on Saturday afternoon.

Defending an early corner that was whipped in to the back post, Wootton was well positioned to challenge and deal with the danger. But he got his technique all wrong. Badly. So much so he still had a foot on the ground as Ben Richards-Everton towered above him to head home. That came after just six minutes, making it a disastrous start with an old issue at source.

And let’s not ignore the discipline. Argyle’s start to life back in League One in 2017 was riddled with indiscipline, with the Greens picking entering October with as many red cards as they had points (5). Things have never been as bad since then, but some indiscipline has been creeping in, and it reached a crescendo on Saturday.

First, Gary Sawyer, just returning from a suspension after receiving his marching orders against Newport a month ago, went in hard on Dylan Connolly. It wasn’t an obvious red card challenge, one you could perhaps describe as ‘one-and-a-half yellow cards’, but Boyeson’s decision was understandable. Then, as the game drew to a close, Antoni Sarcevic was shown a second yellow card for a forceful challenge on the same player, reducing Argyle to nine. That they managed to score and push their opponents right up to the final whistle from that stage was remarkable.

This in itself poses a problem for Argyle going forward. With two games to come this week, they will be without two players whose influence has been key this season in Sawyer and Sarcevic. Both will have their suspensions compounded by the concern that they have both been sent off for the second time this season. Argyle’s indiscipline surely won’t reach 2017/18 levels, but they could do without shooting themselves in the foot.

It’s one of a few old problems in the squad that Lowe will have to carefully consider in the coming weeks.

Player Ratings: Bradford 2 Plymouth Argyle 1

It was a truly bizarre game of two halves for Argyle who found themselves 2-0 down and a man light at half-time before a much improved showing after the interval.

It took going down to 9 men however for Argyle to finally claw their way back into the match with Ryan Hardie slotting the ball through O’Donnell’s legs late on. The second half was a much more spirited showing than the first but Argyle were caught a lot more on the counter and in truth could have lost by more.

Alex Palmer, GK – 7

It’s always going to be difficult to rate a goalkeeper fairly in a game like this. His distribution was nothing short of awful throughout, frequently shanking the ball out of play or straight to opposition players. You can possibly say the atrocious surface can’t have helped that but it’s worth noting O’Donnell was a lot more accurate in this regard.

However, the reason he gets his reasonable mark is due to the very good use of his hands. He collected most high balls very well despite a lot of pressure from tall Bradford attackers. He also made two great one vs one saves to keep Argyle in with a sniff at the start of the second half

Scott Wootton, CB – 4

After a good season generally, this game was straight out of the 2019/20 playbook from the centre back. He lost a header for Bradford’s opener from a corner, something that has almost happened more than once in the last few months already before Argyle’s luck finally expired.

His passing also showed infuriating streaks of aimlessness, often panicking himself into long hoods down the pitch with almost nobody in sight to aim for. He wasn’t helped by the lack of midfield protection after ten men but he was still far from impressive.

Niall Canavan, CB – 6

A stoic performance from the big centre back who wasn’t entirely his most impressive self but he did reasonably well given the fact that Argyle were totally outnumbered for most of the game. He was capable enough in the air and held his position well throughout. He was more flawed in his attacking game, twice squandering the opportunity to get big headers onto set pieces that could have changed the course of the game.

Gary Sawyer, CB – 4

Arrrrggh! Does that about sum it up? It’s becoming a bit of a concern that Sawyer, after never having had a straight red card in his career until this year, has now had two in his last four games. A horrendous tackle, albeit one Connolly made a bit of a meal of.

He was playing largely pretty well until the mistimed and overzealous tackle but he really needs to take a moment of calm whenever he next steps onto the pitch. The rush of blood to the head was probably enough to ensure the three points for the hosts and he’ll now miss the next four games. It’s a shame too because he was largely marking his man well and passing the ball with accuracy before the red mist descended.

Tyreeq Bakinson, DM – 7

Bakinson’s Argyle career began with a bang but soon declined following a string of patchy displays. It was a relief to see the loanee back to something approaching his best today as he was key to Argyle’s offensive action in the second half. He passed and moved with the ball well and was only subbed to allow a more natural striker in the shape of Dom Telford.

You could argue he didn’t guard his back four in the second half but clearly he wasn’t meant to. Argyle played 15 yards higher up across the pitch in a high risk and high reward strategy when defence wasn’t top of the agenda.

Joe Edwards, RWB – 5

Edwards has an unfortunate knack of being a man without a position in Ryan Lowe’s system. He isn’t a good enough crosser of the ball for this role and often he slowed down our play in the first half by being a good five or ten yards deeper than he should have been. He didn’t do anything disastrous but it’s hard to conclude he wasn’t the biggest blockage to our attack and he was rightly hooked at half time. Notably, he was one of four captains for Argyle in the game. Can anyone recall when that last happened?

Antoni Sarcevic, CM – 7

Like Sawyer, it’s hard to rate Sarcevic because he was definitely having a pretty good game up until the sending off. He was probably on an 8 up to that moment and the red card lost him man of the match.

A midfield general, the Mancunian did the heel-snapping, heavy-pressing work that he’s best at to recover possession for Argyle and was perfectly capable with his distribution too. His red card was a little more contentious than Sawyer’s but he still gave the referee a tough decision to make and he’ll now miss two games

Danny Mayor, CM – 6

As has been said with so many players so far, Mayor is a tough player to rate in this game, albeit him for a different reason than most. He was probably one of the better players in Argyle’s compared (if a little flaccid) first half display, building good passing triangles with McFadzean and Sawyer to gain Argyle territory.

In the second half, when moved to left wing back he was very poor. He offered little defensive protection and wasn’t able to do what he does best which is cut onto his right foot and run towards the centre of the back. It would have been wiser to take him off for George Cooper who is wasted on the bench.

Callum McFadzean, LWB – 3

A terrible performance from the left sided utility player which was probably his worst for the club to date. The one good thing that can be said is he made himself available in the first half for passes from Mayor but his end product was virtually non existent. He was slow on the ball and very rarely put in anything approaching a successful cross.

When moved to left-centre-back, he was, if anything, even worse. He was beaten one vs one twice to allow good Bradford chances.

Luke Jephcott, ST – 7

A largely good display from the young striker who, a couple of wayward passes aside was among Argyle’s best performers in the first half. He was unlucky to be subbed and in truth only was because Lowe was clearly going for a more direct partnership. He held up the ball well against much bigger defenders and by and large distributed the ball well.

Byron Moore, ST – 7

One of the few players to perform consistently well in the first half and the second, Moore was unlucky to be on the losing side in the game. In a first half was Argyle were slow and stodgy off the ball, he was one of a few to constantly make himself available. He was a good outlet on the wing in the second half and took men on with much more efficiency than Mayor on the other side. He didn’t quite have the moment of magic he was threatening to but largely, a solid display.

Substitutes

Ryan Taylor, ST – 7

Taylor is surely in the twilight of his Argyle career with his inability to stay fit and his unsuitedness to Lowe’s preferred style but (to mix my metaphors slightly) he showed signs of an Indian Summer in today’s game.

In a second half where Argyle decided to go more direct, he was the perfect outlet in winning balls as well as bringing them down well. He may not have directly created a goal but he did the job he was bought on to do.

Ryan Hardie, ST – 7, player of the match

Hardie was one of a few players who stood out in the second half and the fact that he got a goal with 9 men on the pitch is probably enough of a tiebreak to make him man of the match. He and Taylor is a bit of an archaic partnership but it was an effective one for the circumstances.

Hardie is a joy to watch for his rapid bursts of pace that can often turn defenders into frightened gazelles. He’s not so effective from the start but his electric energy makes him a master of chaos from the bench. He was far from bad with the ball either, dribbling with great aptitude. He was sometimes a little too hesitant with the end product which is why he’s only a 7.

Dominic Telford, ST – n/a

Bought on with Argyle chasing the game, he didn’t have quite enough to nick an unlikely point.

Taylor suffers another setback, Jephcott wins third monthly award

Plymouth Argyle manager Ryan Lowe has confirmed that striker Ryan Taylor has suffered another setback and will miss this weekend match against promotion rivals Crewe Alexandra at Home Park.

Taylor, 31, missed Tuesday’s 2-3 win at Salford City after taking a knock to the same foot that has kept him out for a lot of this season in the second half of last Saturday’s defeat against Colchester United.

It is the latest setback in an injury ravaged last two years for Taylor but Lowe reckons Taylor should return to action soon.

“The scan has come back and he’s fine. We have just let him stay at home for a couple of days to rest up. It’s bone bruising but we made sure it was the right thing to do, we didn’t want to rush him back.”

“He will be back with us next week. Tuesday might be a bit too early but we will certainly have him available for Cambridge I think. He potentially had a chance of starting against Salford because, he came on the pitch against Colchester and did ever so well.”

“Obviously, injuries have set him back but he’s a fantastic lad and a good person.”

Elsewhere, Argyle defender Callum McFadzean, looks set to continue his role at left centre-back, after playing there in the win at Salford on Tuesday.

McFadzean had been a regular fixture in the Argyle side before picking up an injury the FA Cup tie against Bristol Rovers at the start of December.

However, that was in his more favoured left wing-back role, and he made his comeback in the second half against Colchester in that position. Josh Grant has played at left centre-back this season, but to limited success.

“Josh (Grant) has filled in at left-side centre-half a few times for us. Alright, it hasn’t been great for him in that position but what we will say is that he hasn’t shied away from it. He wants to play in either the centre (of defence), the right or the midfield role.”

“So we felt that with Fadz (McFadzean) coming back, he has played there before and gives left-sided balance so, he was going to be fine there.”

Elsewhere, Luke Jephcott has continued his stellar start to life as a first team regular, after picking up his third award in just two weeks.

Jephcott has managed to add the EFL young Player of the Month award to his collection too. He adds the award to the player of the month, and Fans’ player of the month, he managed to win by scoring five goals in four games for the month of January.

Player Ratings: Plymouth Argyle 2 Bradford 1

Plymouth Argyle completed a perfect November with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Bradford City. The Bantams were sitting 3rd in League Two prior to the game, but came up short at Home Park, with the Greens’ first half performance just about enough to secure the victory.

Alex Palmer – 6

It was a nothing game really for the West Bromwich Albion loanee. He didn’t have any major saves to make, and didn’t make any major errors leading to chances like his opposite number. A six feels like it’ll do for him. His kicking was a little off, with a few either going out of play or scuffed towards the opposition. He’s also racking up the bookings like confetti, with another for running down the clock today following his yellow for the same reason against Forest Green last week.

Scott Wootton – 7

It wasn’t necessarily the performance of a colossus from Wootton, like we saw last week against Forest Green, but it didn’t need to be. Wootton did what he had to today; let’s not forget, Argyle were playing against a Bradford side flying high in the league and looking for their tenth win of the season. Wootton did well to limit their chances, and offered a calming influence to the defence as a whole. Who’d have thought we’d be saying that before the season started?

Niall Canavan – 6

Whilst the Irishman wasn’t necessarily perfect today, he certainly did enough of what we’ve become familiar with to impress. Generally, he seemed to be his comfortable self in the air, although some of his headers did make their way back into the danger area, keeping Argyle under the cosh on occasions. A little unlucky to concede an own goal, but luckily it didn’t cost his side in the end.

Gary Sawyer – 7

Argyle’s captain has always been considered a ‘solid 7/10’ player since he made his way back to Home Park back in 2015. Last season, he struggled at left back to live up to that consistency, but this year he’s certainly showing signs of making that left centre back position his own. With three, he made more tackles than any other player in green, and is a solid piece of the defensive jigsaw on current form.

Josh Grant – 6

An interesting one. Sure, Josh has seemed like a player reborn in recent weeks since his switch in position to defensive midfield. And whilst he didn’t do too much wrong there this afternoon, he didn’t quite reach the heights of his performances at Bolton and Forest Green in recent weeks. He seemed to return to his old shaky self in the air on occasions, and whilst he wasn’t totally overpowered, the 21-year-old still needs to work on bits and pieces of his game.

Joe Edwards – 7

Edwards’ performance today was showered with plenty of notable moments, both good and bad. I’d still maintain that he offers more to this side in a defensive midfield role, but with Josh Grant impressing we’ll probably have to wait a while before we see him there again. Edwards took his goal very well, effectively starting and finishing the move himself after pressing Bantams ‘keeper Richard O’Donnell into a poor clearance. That being said, only Palmer and Canavan had lower pass completion rates than Edwards out of the Argyle starting XI. A seven will have to suffice.

Antoni Sarcevic – 8, player of the match

Effervescent would be the word I’d use to describe Sarcevic’s performance today. He was all over the place, regularly troubling the visitors’ defence with his powerful dribbling. In truth, it was a quintessential Sarcevic performance, despite Lowe’s system perhaps not lending itself to that. He was superb in setting up the opening goal, and whilst he did lose possession more than anybody else on the field (7 times), that’s perhaps an indication of just how involved he was.

Danny Mayor – 8

Sometimes with Mayor, I fear we’re reaching the stage where a lot of his positive influence is lost because it’s simply expected, in the similar manner to what we saw with Graham Carey last season. Not to the same level, I should say, but the signs are there. Mayor has still completed more dribbles of anybody in League Two, and his pass completion rate today was a stupendous 93%, wiping the floor with anybody else on the field.

Callum McFadzean – 7

There wasn’t really anything ‘new’ to mention about McFadzean’s performance. Rather, there was plenty on show that we’ve become used to over the last few months. He linked up well with Mayor, of course, and got into a few good positions in behind the defence. His end product was perhaps lacking today, but he was still a vital part of the Argyle attack.

Joel Grant – 7

Plenty of nice touches on show, and whilst the goals may have dried up a little in recent weeks, he’s still been able to demonstrate what a danger he is to opposition defences. He was marvellous in setting up the second goal, combining beautifully with Edwards after Argyle turned over possession in the final third. The only concern may be that he was a little quiet in certain areas; he only managed to get one shot away, which isn’t exactly perfect for a Ryan Lowe striker.

Byron Moore – 7

See above. Byron Moore’s overall performance was very similar to that of his strike partner, with the only difference being that he did manage to find the net with his early effort. It got Argyle off to the perfect start, and whilst Moore too was a little quiet on occasions, it was hardly a bad performance by any means.

Dom Telford – 7

Arrived on the field with twenty minutes to go, and did what he needed to do. He really is surprisingly good at holding up the ball, considering his stature. A run in the team from the start surely beckons as he continues to build his fitness.

Ryan Taylor – 6

Came on very late, and in truth did very little.

Player Ratings: Forest Green 0 Plymouth Argyle 1

A hard fought win for Plymouth Argyle saw the Greens defeat table toppers Forest Green Rovers and climb back into the top-half.

The game was not without an aspect of fortune: the hosts missing a guilt edged chance in the second after Antoni Sarcevic’s deflected opener. By and large though, it was a well managed counter attacking win and a good rearguard effort restricting the hosts to few chances

Alex Palmer, GK – 7

In truth, Palmer wasn’t tested many times in terms of shot stopping. It was an Argyle rear-guard display that led to only one clear shot at goal for the hosts.

Palmer was largely solid with cross collection and distribution albeit there were a couple of shots spilled that could have done with better handling

Scott Wootton, CB – 8, player of the match

A commanding performance from the centre back, who takes the award for his second week in a row. His heading, often a weak area, was dominant and his use of the ball was clever more often than not.

Niall Canavan, CB – 7

Not a flawless performance, with what looked like a couple of lapses in concentration but he did enough to make up for it. He showed his typical composure on the ball and won more headers than he lost.

Gary Sawyer, CB – 7

A testing afternoon for Sawyer as Forest Green looked to play it down their right side a lot, especially in the second half. He was turned on a couple of occasions but generally rose to the challenge well, letting little past him.

Josh Grant, DM – 7

A tale of two halves for Grant. His second half performance wasn’t bad by any means but there were occasions when he sat a bit too deep and invited the hosts onto the defence.

However, his first half performance was sublime. He picked up numerous loose balls and fed the ball through well to our attacking midfielders. He’s made the defensive midfield role his own for now.

Joe Edwards, RWB – 7

Another solid performance from Edwards in the wing-back role. He hardly let anything past his from a defensive standpoint.

He doesn’t offer as much as McFadzean going forward but he did well in a testing situation when he was moved to LWB after an injury to McFadzean

Antoni Sarcevic, CM – 7

Like Josh Grant, an excellent and industrious first half display from the Mancunian who topped it off with a fantastic goal as well as some good runs. He was much less involved in the second half and didn’t take care of the ball as well as he might have done.

Danny Mayor, CM – 6

Mayor started the game like a rocket, often showing for the ball. He was also involved in a good set piece routine with Sarcevic that led to the goal. He did quieten down though after that point and whilst not bad, was a little wasteful with the ball in places.

Callum McFadzean, LWB – 7

He was only on for a half due to an injury which will perhaps concern Argyle fans. His half was good though, make no mistake. He linked up well with Mayor and Moore as well as offering defensive solidity.

Byron Moore, ST – 7

A lot of what he does will resonate well with Argyle fans. He chases and harries defenders and can seemingly do so all day long. As well as his lungs appearing to be made of steel, he also showed good use of the ball in the game and interlinked nicely with Sarcevic,

Joel Grant, ST – 5

A somewhat disappointing display in which lots of effort and energy didn’t really translate to end product. He wasn’t all bad but a lot of passes went awry and he didn’t get in many good scoring positions either. He may be feeling slight pressure for his spot now Telford is fit.

Substitutes

Joe Riley, RWB – 6

He was only on for 23 minutes, replacing McFadzean before seemingly recurring his own injury. He didn’t really get forward much but did the job at the back.

Dominic Telford, ST – 7

Telford did a lot of good in the time he was on. We seem to say this every time he plays but he does a ridiculous amount in the air for someone as short as he is. Good energy and passing too.

Ryan Taylor, ST – NA

He did what we brought him in to do: hold up the ball and see the game out. Box ticked.

Plymouth Argyle Player Rankings 2019/20: Matchday 16

With three months of the season played, we will now be publishing regular updates to our Plymouth Argyle player rankings, scoring each player’s impact throughout the 2019/20 season.

Read how we calculate the score

The state of play

With 16 matches of the league season gone (21 in all competitions), Danny Mayor leads the way as our highest ranked Plymouth Argyle player this season. This should come as no surprise given the rave-reviews he has earned thus far, having also won the Argyle Life player of the month for September. He is followed by August player of the month winner Alex Palmer, whose stellar start to the season saw him top the rankings initially, though he has fallen since then as Argyle started to concede goals more consistently.

Joe Edwards takes up third place having been something of a Mr Consistent thus far. Aside from his two-goal performance against Crawley, he has rarely made headlines but instead gone about his job quietly yet effectively. Hardly David Fox, but far more comfortable in possession than former defensive-midfielders, while he also has an excellent awareness for cutting out attacks. It was hardly too surprising to see Argyle keep three clean sheets in four matches once he was returned to defensive midfield.

Callum McFadzean deservedly takes up a spot in the top five having been one of the key performers this season. Despite failing to get a goal all last season for free-scoring Bury, he is currently the second-top scorer this season with four. He is also one of Argyle’s biggest creative threats and already has three assists. It’s not just his assists though, but the quality of the chances he has created. Indeed, had it not been for some profligate finishing he could be nearing double-figures for assists already.

Gary Sawyer, Antoni Sarcevic, Niall Canavan, Scott Wootton, Joe Riley and Joel Grant make up the rest of the top ten. Grant aside, none have truly hit their best form yet, but they have been important members of the team during the start to the season thus far, accumulating lots of minutes, which propels them higher up the rankings at this early stage.

They are under threat from the likes of George Cooper, whose excellent form in spite of limited minutes leaves him set to jump ahead of some of these players within weeks.

Will Aimson is also climbing the rankings after missing the first six weeks. He currently sits 17th due to a lack of game-time, but – with one of the highest average ratings – he will surely shoot into the top ten once he returns to the team. Other players who have had their game-time limited, such as Jose Baxter, Conor Grant, Byron Moore and Dominic Telford are sure to follow suit and fly up the table once they can rake in significant game-time.

Plymouth Argyle’s player rankings

 

Rank
Player
Score
Movement
1. Danny MAYOR 18.42
2. Alex PALMER 17.90
3. Joe EDWARDS 17.74
4. Callum McFADZEAN 17.41
5. Gary SAWYER 16.56
6. Niall CANAVAN 16.37
7. Antoni SARCEVIC 16.20
8. Scott WOOTTON 15.51
9. Joe RILEY 14.72
10. Joel GRANT 14.33
11. George COOPER 14.19
12. Jose BAXTER 14.15
13. Byron MOORE 13.92
14. Conor GRANT 13.57
15. Josh GRANT 13.43
16. Ryan TAYLOR 12.99
17. Will AIMSON 12.97
18. Dominic TELFORD 12.24
19. Zak RUDDEN 11.84
20. Michael COOPER 10.19
21. Adam RANDELL 9.25
22. Klaidi LOLOS 8.03
23. Tafari MOORE 7.40
23. Billy CLARKE 6.00

How we calculate the score

Each player receives a match rating from 1-10 and one player from each match receives a player 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.

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.
  • confirmation 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.

 

Argyle Life Player of the Month: October