Plymouth Argyle succumbed to a poor 1-0 defeat to Cambridge United, which was probably deserved after performance that lacked creativity and control.
Alex Palmer, GK – 7, Player of the Match
Palmer gets the award for best player due to a process of elimination, mostly because nobody else stood out. He plucked dangerous set pieces out of the air comfortably and made one good save to deny Cambridge a second shortly after their opener, getting across his goal well.
Make no mistake, this was far from his best performance, but he didn’t do much wrong and the rest of the team was poor.
Scott Wootton, CB – 6
A high 6/low 7 for Wootton, who didn’t do much wrong but didn’t have much to deal with. The defensive trio was pretty strong throughout the game despite being tested quite regularly – the midfield was the true problem area today – and Wootton played his part in that. However, this was just a quiet performance, very average.
Niall Canavan, CB – 7
The most involved defender of the three, the Irishman was solid in the air, winning eight of nine headers and closed out a few attacks well. Cambridge played a good, incisive style, which saw their attacking players run at the back-three on a series of occasions, but Canavan was on hand to stop them more often than not.
Gary Sawyer, CB – 6
Sawyer was certainly more active than Wootton on the right, but he also struggled to contain the threat posed at times. He wasn’t as strong in the air as he has been in recent games and was slightly caught out of position for the opening goal. Cambridge’s Sam Smith often took him on for speed down his side of the defence and managed to win the foot race. This was hardly a bad game, just a bit average.
Josh Grant, DM – 5
One of three Grants to play today, Josh was unable to properly protect the defence as Cambridge largely overran Argyle in midfield. The side in Amber were slicker in possession and carved their way through the middle time and time again. Grant was just one of the perpetrators in this regard.
Meanwhile, he offered no threat in possession as Cambridge defended their lead quite comfortably at the end.
Joe Edwards, RWB – 5
Yet another member of the midfield who failed to shine today. No dribbles completed, no key passes, no big chances created, no successful crosses, no threat. Still no assists for him at wing-back, which demonstrates his lack of creativity in a more advanced position. Surely a new player to fill that position must be a target in January.
Antoni Sarcevic, CM – 5
Sarcevic’s crossing was about the only threat Argyle provided all day. They were driven, flat, and directed into dangerous positions. No chances came of them, but they were at least consistent and one of the few moments that looked like they could lead to goals.
However, he was well below par otherwise. Cambridge continually found ways to dribble past him in midfield – he was beaten more than the rest of Argyle’s team combined – and lost possession more than any other player in white and green. It was just far too easy for Cambridge to exert control in midfield.
Danny Mayor, CM – 4
Mayor was off today, as he would probably admit. Far too hesitant in the final third of the pitch, he also lost the ball more often than he usually would. Clearly struggling to exert anywhere near as much in the territorial style of play, though he was not helped by the absence of his partner in crime Callum McFadzean, as Conor Grant did not compliment his talent.
One of Mayor’s biggest problems is that he is far too selfless. He needs to stop trying to create something for his teammates all the time and just start shooting for himself. For a player who has more touches in the final third of the pitch than any of his teammates, he only averages a shot a game. He needs to increase this.
Conor Grant, LWB – 5
Conor Grant’s biggest problem is that he isn’t McFadzean. One of the best features of his combination play with Mayor is the runs off the ball that have lead to big chances created against Walsall, Northampton, Oldham and others. Grant was lacking this movements today. It was painful to watch Mayor travel with the ball into his favoured position, at the corner of the box, draw the man, but then see no run to exploit the space he had created.
Grant was tidy in possession for the most part, but carried little threat and failed to provide many good crosses. He might struggle to keep his place against Morecambe next week, particularly is McFadzean is back to fitness.
Byron Moore, ST – 7
A rare bright spot, though mostly once he was moved to wing-back. For the first hour, he toiled with little support or end product as Argyle continually slammed long balls forward for him to chase – which didn’t work. After Conor Grant was pulled from the field, he moved to left wing-back and began to have a greater influence.
His speed caused problems on the counter and he began to make the runs that Grant was not, leading to a couple of shots from himself and his teammates.
Dominic Telford, ST – 6
Like his strike partner, he worked hard up-front to feed off the scraps but it didn’t work for him. A poor midfield display meant that he instead spent his time fighting impressively to win aerial duels (reminder, he is 5″6). Not the impact he will have wanted to make, and might be dropped back to the bench against Morecambe.
Joel Grant, ST – 5
Did he touch the ball? On the pitch for 35 minutes but made next to no difference to the team performance, even as Argyle started to get the ball down more and carry it further up the pitch. Almost anonymous.
George Cooper, LWB – 6
Came on and made a bit of an impact down the right. Ran at his full-back more as Cambridge looked to shut up shop and see out the win, but created nothing until a late run in from the wing led to a free-kick a yard outside the box. Cooper took the resulting effort, but sent it narrowly wide. Provided far more of a threat than Edwards.
Must be wondering what he did to deserve being dropped for Mayor, after hitting top form for three games in a row back in October. Surely he should be under consideration to return to the team soon.
Billy Clarke, ST – 5
Argyle were chasing an equaliser, but Clarke didn’t even touch the ball in the box. That says a lot about his impact, though it is worth noting that the striking struggles today were far more down to the lack service than the four individuals to lead the line.