Plymouth Argyle just have a week to go until they step back onto the pitch for their first competitive match since March. In the final warm-up before then, Ryan Lowe’s men managed to overcome League Two opponents Forest Green Rovers in a well contested 2-1 win.
For the first time in five and half months, here are your Argyle Life player ratings:
Michael Cooper, GK – 6
A relatively assured performance from the young custodian, who marshaled his posts well for the most part – an overall theme for the defence this afternoon.
He did have one shaky moment towards the end of the first half when a long ball found Aaron Collins behind the defence. Cooper’s hesitation in committing, as well as his misjudgment in the bounce of the ball, allowed Collins to poke the ball over his head but fortunately it landed just past the post. This is a mistake that can be accepted in pre-season, but will be something that Cooper will have to improve on as the season goes along.
Apart from that minor lapse in concentration Cooper was solid for the rest of the afternoon, claiming crosses and making blocks when necessary, and he could do very little about the strike which brought Forest Green level five minutes after half time from 20 yards out. His distribution was also a big plus: always looking for the short option but knowing when to put his foot through the ball.
Will Aimson – 6
It was like watching a new signing. Despite being at the club for over a year, Aimson hardly featured at all last season. For me, it was the first time i’d seen him since a 2-2 draw with Scunthorpe United, in which he impressively scored both goals.
He impressed for the most part, contributing well to the defensive unit that limited Forest Green to very few clear cut opportunities, despite having much of the ball in the first half.
There is a slight question mark over his role in the goal. He and MacLeod should have communicated clearly to Grant that he needed to press the ball rather than block the passing lane. Defending is about playing as a unit and communication is vital to that. That being said, Grant was the more obviously player at fault, caught in two minds over whether to sit or press.
Scott Wootton, CB – 7
Good performance from the Liverpudlian, who started the day as captain and looked very comfortable at receiving the ball short from Michael Cooper, before bringing the ball into midfield and laying it off.
After seeing the team sheet, I was initially surprised to see Wootton start over fellow centre back Niall Canavan, particularly in the centre of the back three, a position the Canavan seemed to make his own after last season in League Two.
After starting over Canavan in the friendly against Championship opponents Middlesbrough, Wootton might just start to fancy his chances of being one of the first names on the teamsheet come September 12 against Blackpool. He certainly didn’t put a foot wrong this afternoon.
Kelland Watts, CB – 7
A good first impression from the young man who seemed to be the aggressor in defence, often stepping into midfield trying to win the ball. On occasion Watts tried to offer himself as the overlapping centre-back attributed to a Ryan Lowe system, but he did not receive the ball. Yet, he showed good recovery speed when tracking back, putting in a superb block to deny a Forest Green opener after a ball was cut back into the area.
It is also worth noting that Watts was unfazed on the ball, something very valuable to Argyle’s set up, though he saw less of it than his other defensive colleagues.
Lewis MacLeod, DM – 7
MacLeod is an exciting new addition to the Argyle squad ahead of this season, taking over from the duties of Tyreeq Bakinson, Joe Edwards and Josh Grant from defensive midfield last season.
Despite starting off the game relatively slowly, losing possession to allow a Forest Green counter, MacLeod played the ball around neatly and put in some good challenges to win the ball back off his opponents. His best moment came when he broke up a Forest Green attack, launching the counter which led to the first goal scored by Ryan Hardie.
Byron Moore, RWB – 4
4 might be harsh here, but Moore was one of the poorer performers this afternoon. He looked a yard behind the pace of his usual self, not getting into many promising positions and when he did, the final ball lacked its usual quality.
Probably a result of pre-season rust given Moore missed last week’s game against Middlesborough and will need to get up to usual speed before the first league game of the season. His effort and application off the ball was up to his usual high standards however.
Conor Grant, CM – 4
It was a disappointing performance from Grant who struggled to get involved in the game and was wasteful with the ball when he did receive. Add to this the aforementioned hesitancy for the Forest Green goal, and it was not the display of a man desperate to start the season first choice. The pace of the game improved once Panutche Camara took his place in central midfield just after the hour mark.
Danny Mayor, CM – 6
As usual Mayor caused some problems for the opposition in midfield, linking up well with the likes of Frank Nouble to create some good openings, but as has had happened a few times in his Argyle career his decision making let him down.
His biggest fault in this game was once again turning down the chance to shoot when he was the best placed player to fire at goal. Instead, he tried to lay the ball off the Ryan Hardie who was in a worse position. Someone needs to stop Mayor and tell him he is a top quality player and is allowed to score as well!
Calvin Miller, LWB – 5
Granted, this was my first time seeing Miller perform so it’s hard to be too harsh, but today he failed to give support to Mayor on the wing. Mayor needs an overlapping runner to best utilise the space he creates on the wing, but too often Miller was to slow to see the opportunity or get in position.
Once the second half started, Miller was seen getting forward a lot more but, much like his fellow wing back, his final ball let him down and it remains to be seen whether Miller will be offered a contract to stay in Devon with the opportunity to sign George Cooper presented to the club.
Ryan Hardie, ST – 8, player of the match
Hardie was his usual lively self, willing to press the defence relentlessly and causing problems for FGR’s back line. This is exactly what he did after being played in behind by Frank Nouble just before half-time. He teased his opponent, before cutting inside onto his weaker left-foot and unleashing an unstoppable shot into the corner, a quality of finish we have come to expect from him in a green shirt. One shot, one goal, one excellent performance.
Frank Nouble, ST – 6
Nouble’s performance was more mediocre than his strike partner. He linked up well with his team mates, sending Hardie away down the wing before the striker cut inside to finish as well as flicking Mayor into a shooting position. His footwork was impressive too. However, he was much more reluctant to press than his striking counterpart.
Niall Canavan, CB – 6
Replaced Scott Wotton in the 64th minute and took the captain’s armband from the Liverpudlian. Played some calm but risky passing but otherwise did not make any contributions of note.
Panutche Camara, CM – 8
A stellar performance from the bench, injecting some much needed energy into the Argyle midfield. He took Grant’s place as he moved into the deeper role, with MacLeod getting a rest.
Camara was immediately seen pressing the ball carriers and made himself a nuisance for the Forest Green players and this was exactly how he created the winning goal. With Argyle losing possession, he launched a superbly timed counter-press to win the ball back in midfield and set Jephcott away instantly to lob the goalkeeper and net the winner
Dom Telford, ST – 4
Although he was on for as long as Camara, Telford struggled to affect the game, he couldn’t get hold of the ball and didn’t do very much to put himself in contention for the game’s ahead. Touch was off when he got close to goal. Needs a goal, any goal, just to get going again after an injury plagued first season.
Luke Jephcott, ST – 8
Jephcott put in the type of performance we saw from him at end of last season. After being called up to Wales’ under 21 side for the first time, he capped off his week with an instinctive finish, catching our Rovers ‘keeper Luke McGee – stuck in no-mans land – from near the half-way line to win the game for Argyle.
Ben Reeves, CM – 6
The trialist who played for Argyle this afternoon was confirmed after the match by manager Ryan Lowe to be former MK Dons and Charlton midfielder Ben Reeves, who came on in the 72nd minute for Danny Mayor.
Reeves looked assured in midfield and didn’t make any mistakes, whilst drawing a good save out of McGee after some good combination play from a corner. Reeves didn’t spend enough time on the pitch for me to give him a higher mark, but the early signs were promising to say the least.
Ryan Law – n/a
Although Law wasn’t on the pitch long enough to give him a fair rating, he did make some useful forays into the attacking third and putting in a good challenge to win the ball back for Argyle. The young man a good impression in his limited time on the pitch, and maybe gave himself a chance of starting against QPR next week.
Gary Sawyer – n/a
Late substitute, barely touched the ball.
Adam Randell – n/a