It would be safe to say I’m thoroughly running out of superlatives to describe this side; every-single-man has stepped up, as a side we look un-stoppable right now. My last game on the Argyle Life ratings saw us crumble to a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Charlton Athletic in the somewhat-annual drubbing at The Valley. – how times have changed.
The only disappointment now is to concede to such a lacklustre side; the same MK Dons that battered in pursuit of making the play-offs last season. Despite only losing two big hitters in Twine and Darling, MK look a shadow of last season’s side; even with additions of Louie Barry, Bradley Johnson and Josh McEachran.
Someone who could summarise this side perfectly; with his broad West-Country tones, his unwavering wit and charm alongside his love of all things Argyle is the late, great Gordon Sparks. It is the smallest of consolations that he heard this League One topping side run out 4-1 winners against MK; while the 2,600-strong Green Army sang his name.
Rest in Peace, Sir Gordon.
7 – Michael Cooper
I can only remember two real saves of note; both easy collections straight at him. Maybe could have done better with their goal; opting to dive forward with his feet opposed, but due to the season he’s having, I’’m feeling generous to let him off. He’ll likely be tested more away to Bristol Rovers next Saturday.
8 – Bali Mumba
September’s EFL Young Player of the Month provided to be a constant threat and as direct as always and was clearly allowed to run wild against a weak Don’s side. Added another assist for the season after a lovely bit of quick build up from Lonwijk and Azaz, leaving Mumba to put it on a plate inside the 6 yard box for Ennis to roll home. Slight scare after a collision with Harvie just before half-time but bounced back up to add another assist
7 – Matt Butcher
Due to the absence of Scarr, Butcher slotted seamlessly into the back-line and took up the the left-hand role; keeping former MK youth talent Brendan Galloway on the bench in the process. Further showcasing his versatility; Butcher looked more assured at the back than recent performances in the middle, although MK proved no real threat. Kept the previously on-fire Grigg at a simmer in the first half and linked up well with the midfield.
8 – James Wilson
As aforementioned, my last go on the ratings saw Wilson see red away to Charlton; with the centre-back given the boot. Bought back the X-Factor with a solid showing, making Louie Barry look more Louis Walsh. Once he’d settled, his performance grew and we even saw his spraying a few show-stopping big-switch pingers out to Edwards for fun. One blip but more on Lonwijk’s shoulder’s than his.
7 – Nigel Lonwijk
Comparisons to Van Dijk are no joke; beyond the obvious looks, the long-legged Dutchman continues to look assured in possession and a rock at the back. Completed the equal-most tackles in the game, alongside Captain Joe Edwards. Went walk-about for Will Grigg’s goal leaving a gap at the back for the Irish-man to walk through, however the youngsters steady progression is keeping the likes of Galloway at bay, He, alongside Scarr and Wilson, forms the base of a potential promotion winning side, for me. Gillespie, Bolton and Galloway all have a lot of work to displace the Wolves loanee.
8 – Joe Edwards
Edwards has to be one of the best pieces of business done by Argyle in a long time; a consummate professional with unrivalled work-rate, who is consistently reliable and, most importantly, a brilliant player on his day. As mentioned multiple times, MK offered next-to-nothing, which allowed Edwards to control that flank; keeping Nathan Holland quiet. Began lively too, popping off two shots in the first half, both unfortunately blocked. Started life under his newly signed contract well.
8 – Jordan Houghton
Former MK man Houghton became an easy scape-goat in the reverse fixture that saw the central midfielder head for an early bath and pile on the misery in the painful 5-0 defeat – Saturday saw him avenge that horror show with a tidy performance; keeping it simple, getting his foot in, retrieving the ball and letting the creative front three thrive. We all know his talents, here’s hoping he’s back to being as reliable as the majority of last season.
8 – Adam Randell
Quietly going about his business in the middle of the park didn’t stop him from portraying his usual level of calm, quick thinking distribution and all round assertiveness that we’ve already become accustomed to. Randell often found himself in acres of space with time to pick up his head and fizz quick balls through the thirds, bypassing their midfield at every opportunity. He appears to be grasping his opportunities in the starting line-up this season perfectly, with his relentless energy and press at the fore – of which the third goal came from exactly that; winning the ball high outside their 18 from a poor Bradley Johnson pass before bouncing through to Azaz for his second. Maybe could have done better for their goal, but I’m in a good mood. It would come as no shock to me if Randell were soon be faced with offers from clubs higher up the pyramid.
8 – Morgan Whittaker
SkyBet League One Player of the Month for September has well and truly shut me up. I was far too critical of his early performances, namely away to Fleetwood, but boy has he made me look an idiot. Much more of a creator than a finisher, he still managed to put us 1-0 up within 9 minutes after squirming the ball underneath the ‘keeper and somehow poking over the line; the stuff of nightmares for Jamie Cummings. I’d also noticed that he’s began tracking back well too, appearing to have added some defensive nous and awareness to his game.
10 – MOTM: Finn Azaz
Just another day at the office for Azaz, what a player. Nine minutes is all it took for Finn to register yet another assist in green – well, grey – and was back to his creative best providing the most chances created, 5, and managing to extend his goal-tally by another 2. Slotting the first away with calm and precision from around the penalty spot after Randell scuppered their play and the second from outside the 18 after James Wilson, of all people, popped up inside the opposition half to suffocate the play, win the ball back high and leave Azaz with the incredible task of slotting home form 20-odd yards – taken with aplomb. Should have had a hat-trick, if it wasn’t for Hardie’s selfishness infront of goal. He’ll be playing Championship football next season, even if we aren’t.
9 – Niall Ennis
A tidy finish through the legs of Cummings bought Ennis up to 5 for the season – and with that a real step-up in quality from the 23 year-old this season. Adding to his goal last time out against Stanley at Home Park; put on a plate by Azaz, he’d be hard pressed to find an easier finish all season. All three shots on target and all 6 accurate passes completed. Rested in the 60th minute for the introduction of Hardie. Would have been MOTM had Azaz not been faultless.
5 – Ryan Hardie
Just not his day, felt like he couldn’t really find his feet in the game despite having 30 minutes to do so – Ennis’ withdrawal really left a void up-top. One chance of note where, after beating their offside trap so well, the Scotsman decided to smash the ball straight at the on-rushing Cummings, opposed to rolling to Finn Azaz to complete his hat-trick with a tap-in. You could feel he was low on confidence and really needs one to hit the back of the net. I’d imagine he gets minutes on Tuesday against Crystal Palace.
6 – Conor Grant
This game last season saw the 600-odd Green Army incredibly optimistic and joyous despite having just lost Ryan Lowe to Preston and having been 1-0 down, live on Sky, on a cold Tuesday night, up stepped Conor Grant with a rocket to secure a point and kick-start Steven Schumacher’s managerial career. This season hasn’t been as joyful for Grant, but with his injury now seemingly behind him, I can’t wait to see more of him. Came on for Mumba, kept it progressive, kept it tidy. Smashing.
N/A – Will Jenkins Davies
What a talent. Only had 9 minutes on the pitch and could have bagged, if not for a heavy touch. Felt assured on the ball albeit limited. If we can find a way to integrate him into more first-team minutes we have another incredible talent on our hands.
N/A – Sam Cosgrove
You’re indestructible, Always believe in Sam Cosgrove!
N/A – Finley Craske
Always a pleasure to see youth team prospects get first-team minutes, however small.