Welcome back to One Team In Devon – after a pulsating draw against in-form Middlesbrough.
I was at the game and felt both sets of fans probably left the ground reasonably happy with the result, which was played out in a decent atmosphere and a great spirit, both between players and supporters.
“It’s all gone quiet over there” bounced sarcastically back and forth between ends as both teams made comebacks in a six-goal thriller.
Let’s pick the bones out of it.
On Ben Waine
Waine’s inclusion and performance didn’t really answer any questions or provide much reassurance to my mind.
We clearly need Hardie and Bundu back ASAP, and the news from midweek was positive. Both suffered grade two hamstring strains, which aren’t considered overly serious. Hardie is in more pain, so Bundu could be back first, after the international break. That means that, with luck, it’s just Leeds away to navigate before one returns.
I’ve seen two ideas around Waine, and think they can be true at the same time. I felt he was isolated up front on his own, and wasn’t given service to affect the game or play to his strengths.
But he doesn’t possess the strength or pace to make an impression up front, and offered little danger.
He touched the ball 9 times in his 70 minutes, and generously interpreting, two were in the final third. Coburn touched the ball 25 times, for context.
Mumba answers critics
It’s incredible that Mumba even had to answer critics, but after last week, he probably did owe us a goal. And he delivered, both with his finish and his performance throughout the game.
The cupped ear celebration is something we should be a little embarrassed about as a fan base. He’s clearly heard grumblings, and that’s not the love that he claimed brought him back to Argyle as a signing.
He turned his man inside out, time and time again made space, dragged defenders, and was on his hand to finish a delightful nutmeg pass from Azaz, who seems to be exceeding his pre-injury ceiling to look a real talent at this level.
See some stats from @notatroll (above) and Tweet (below) shows his value in an Argyle shirt:
Bali Mumba creates the most chances of the front 3 (the others are scoring) and =2nd xA. Scoring at pretty much xG. AND he’s doing a job defensively (including starting in defence several times). He’s class.
3-3: the ultimate Argyle scoreline?
Doesn’t 3-3 perfectly sum up Argyle? Great in attack, haphazard in defence. I certainly think this will be the theme of the whole season – and I’ve said before – I prefer it to being a stodgy, negative team playing anti-football for a lower-midtable finish. And we’ve already seen that can be effective in this league.
I saw an incredible stat that we’ve scored three goals (or more) in 5 of our 8 home league games this season.
But if Schuey can mastermind even a slight decrease in the GA column, without affecting our attacking threat, we could start getting what we deserve.
Scarr had another nightmare for the second goal – I think it’s probably time to give Pleggy a run in that spot.
Mumba and Miller were bypassed like training cones for the third goal, which was far too easy from an Argyle perspective, and came from Boro stretching us in all directions. We need to figure this out.
The switch to a back three was being prepared as Middlesbrough piled on the pressure after the penalty, and Pleggy was waiting on the touchline as the third went in. It could, and possibly should, have been made more quickly. But we were still opened up at will after.
The luck swings back
We’ve been owed a fair dose of luck after rattling the post several times, poor referring decisions, and in-game injuries. And we may have cashed in a few of those during the Boro game.
The Argyle equaliser was fortunate to evade everyone to tuck inside the post, even if the delivery was inch-perfect by Whittaker, who as we know, only scores worldies.
Carrick was incensed by the lack of a red card for Miller in the 70th minute (who now serves a one-game ban for the yellow that resulted). It was adjudged a foul and he was the last man, so it is technically hard to disagree. Perhaps the fact that Miller doesn’t seem to make a challenge or put a hand on his opponent saved him, but it’s a huge moment of rebalancing after Ipswich.
I also can’t get my head around the Scarr situation in the last minute of injury time, when he fails to clear a ball in the wet and is adjudged to have been fouled. Very lucky again.