After a very ropey week on the road, Plymouth Argyle got back to winning ways with a bang, beating Lincoln City 2-0 to get into the third round of the FA Cup. The scoring was opened by – who else – Luke Jephcott, heading directly in from a perfect George Cooper corner. Ben Reeves scored Argyle’s second goal in spectacular fashion, striking a Frank Nouble miskick into the top corner of the net on the volley. Argyle created chances in the second half. Whilst the first was quieter, we restricted Lincoln to few serious chances due to a very sturdy backline and were well worthy of the win.
Mike Cooper – GK, 8
A game at Fleetwood that could best be described as ‘error prone’ was followed up by a much improved display at Peterborough and then a performance today that was, if anything, even better. Cooper was largely very impressive against a Lincoln side who were increasingly peppering him with shots as the game went on. He saved everything that came at him, holding onto the vast majority of it. There were, perhaps, a couple of question marks over a couple of the shots in the first half that he could perhaps have held and were instead parried back to the striker.
Even those, he dealt with well. He also proved impressive in his command of area that was strong, knowing when to catch and when to punch. His kicking, one stray miskick aside, continued to be very impressive, often starting Argyle attacks. His use of his hands to distribute was also impressive, always looking for the quick route out of defence whenever he got two hands on the ball. Long may his form continue.
Scott Wootton – RCB, 7.
Given a run in the side once again following a couple of Will Aimson mistakes, Wootton continued to show there’s few better than him for on the ground defender. His aerial duel success may be patchy (albeit, it’s better than it was) but there’s few players I’d trust more to position themselves effectively to cut out an incoming attack. Lincoln barely had any serious chances in the game, largely restricted to long range shots. This was surely in part down to Wootton’s astute reading of the game.
Where he could have done better, as he so often can is his passing. Whilst he’s fine at playing the simple balls out of the back three, he too often executes aimless long passes to nobody in particular. This simply results in the ball coming back to us and it’s an area of his game he can still work on.
Niall Canavan – CB, 9. Player of the Match.
What a difference this guy makes. Surely, now, it is beyond doubt? Argyle are quite simply a better team when Canvan plays. No ifs, no buts. It isn’t just that he’s a better defender than the alternatives for the central man in the back three. I mean, I think he is the best defender for that role. He’s a colossus in the air, winning almost everything that comes his way and he knows exactly when to attack the ball with aplomb.
But more than this, and he showed this against Lincoln, is he makes others around him play better. He communicates where other players should be and organises at set pieces. He brings out the best in those around him. The stats speak for themselves: Argyle concede at a goal every 87 minutes when Canavan plays and a goal every 51 minutes when he doesn’t.
Kelland Watts – LCB, 8.
Another fine game was had by the man who is proving to be an absolute revelation on the left hand side of the defence. Whilst (as stated above!) I believe Canavan to be our best all round defender, I believe Watts to be our best attacking-defender. He executed his core duties brilliantly, a couple of slight errors that crept into his game in recent weeks were nowhere to be seen against Lincoln. He also overlaps well, presenting himself as an extra attacking option whilst ostensibly a centre-back.
One scuffed clearance is the only imperfection that I can think of and perhaps he can consider himself unlucky not to get an even higher score.
Tyreese Fornah – DCM, 6.
Fornah had an unexpectedly good game against Peterborough – after being dropped from the side, he had his best game in an Argyle shirt. He fought and scrapped constantly, not getting dribbled past once. We all hoped it was a positive platform he could build on to really cement his place in the side. He did have a quieter first half, often failing to decide when to press and when to hold off. This sometimes led to him doing neither.
However, the second half saw him look much more like the Fornah was saw on Tuesday night. He was much sharper and his decision making more astute and perhaps this lead to Argyle’s improved second half display. He’s done enough to keep his space for another game, at least.
Joe Edwards – RWB, 9.
I’m prepared to eat humble pie here. Edwards is a player who I didn’t think would make the step up to League One level particularly well. Last season, he was perhaps too often Mr 6 out of 10, getting up and down the line well but to no avail when it came to his end product. However, the game against Lincoln was the latest in a long line of very impressive displays for the greens.
He was constantly getting Argyle moving, the primary source of home attacks in the first half and the second. Additionally, he seems to have upskilled himself. His passing, never really a strength last time out, was intricate in this game. He linked very well with Conor Grant and the strikers. Only Canavan’s dominant display prevents him getting man of the match.
Conor Grant – RCM, 7.
He was a bit quiet at times, especially in the first half, but he grew into the game as it went on. After a mediocre couple of games, it was good to see Grant look more like the star man we saw in the early days of the season, even if he wasn’t quite back to his best.
His distribution was tidy and he was part of a good joint defensive effort that largely restricted Lincoln to pot shots.
Ben Reeves- LCM, 8.
Reeves had all the good aspects of Grant’s performance made better. Yes, perhaps he could have been busier going forward but his tenacity was much appreciated by his defenders, who had much less to deal with due to the relentless pressing of Reeves in front of them,
And, of course, we can’t go without pointing out his miraculous goal. It fell to him on the volley and he timed it perfectly to whack the ball into the corner of the net, giving Palmer no chance in goal for the Imps. Contending with Conor Grant’s efforts against Wimbledon and Swindon, it will surely be up there for goal of the season when the campaign ends.
George Cooper – LWB, 7.
It was a funny game for the wing-back. Perhaps a little lucky to have kept his place after a dire display on Tuesday against his old club, Cooper showed he still has some magic in him with a beautifully whipped cross straight onto the head of Luke Jephcott for the opening goal. He was also involved in the second, delivering the free-kick into the box which was cleared out for Reeves’ stunning goal.
That said, his general level of display was perhaps still a little lacking at times. His defending was the weakest of the midfielders and he didn’t show for passes as much as Joe Edwards on the other side. He has encouraging signs to take from his performance but some areas for improvement too.
Frank Nouble – ST, 6.
It was in truth a fairly quiet game for the big striker. Certainly in the first half, he rarely got on the ball. In the second, he was more involved and didn’t do a lot wrong. Perhaps he deserves a higher score as he didn’t exactly make any mistakes, he just didn’t do a lot generally. Credit can be given to his movement, which can be useful in occupying defenders, if nothing else.
He will be fighting for the assist to his name but if he’s honest, I don’t think he can say he meant it. Still, a couple more ‘mistakes’ like that and Argyle will be laughing.
Luke Jephcott – ST , 7.
Just how many millions is this kid gonna end up making Argyle? I hate to think of such a good player leaving us when his Argyle career has only just got going and he’s establishing such a connection with the (albeit distant) fanbase. The fact remains though, that if he keeps up this kind of form, he can make money for the club that could have us set for the next five years.
He was really rather good again today, quite aside from the now expected poacher’s finish for his goal. It’s a myth that all he’s about is goalscoring. He’s relentlessly busy, constantly pressing opposing defenders and forcing them back up the pitch. I envy the 2,000 who will get to see him play in the flesh for Argyle on Saturday. Sadly I’m not sure how many more appearances he has left.
Pantuche Camara – RCM, 8.
Whilst Grant had a solid enough game, he was exceeded by the man who replaced him in the second half. Argyle really needn’t have worried about losing Antoni Sarcevic this summer. Camara does everything that Sarcevic did and he does it better too. He drove Argyle up the pitch at a time where we could so easily have sat back and his use of the ball was immaculate. Ryan Lowe has once again been given a real selection headache for the two CM spots.
Jerome Opoku – LWB, N/A.
Once again tried at left-wing-back after a prolonged spell at CB, he did the job as a more defensive option to see the game out. He did get booked giving away a free-kick, but made no other mistakes of note.
Ryan Hardie – ST, N/A.
Try as he might, it just isn’t happening for him in front of goal, is it? He once again got himself into a good position but couldn’t put it away. We can at least take solastce from the fact that at least he’s getting in the right positions still, even if he’s a mile away from the confidence boost he needs.