Plymouth Argyle’s perfect start to the season continued into the cup as well as the league, with a comfortable victory over Leyton Orient. The possession based play was as good as we’ve seen so far under Ryan Lowe and the scoreline flatters the visitors a little.
Michael Cooper, GK – 7
Many fans eagerly anticipated the young keeper being given his chance to shine against the Os, and the question was whether he’d sink or swim under pressure. In truth, Argyle were so dominant and Orient so poor (more on that later) that the goalkeeper was barely tested throughout the game.
He made a few routine saves and cross collections, while some of his distribution was smart under pressure. He did also have a couple of slightly below-par kicks. which is why he is only a 7, and Alex Palmer for now remains the first choice. Still, a first full clean sheet for the promising youngster which cannot be sniffed at.
Josh Grant, CB – 7
Argyle’s latest Grant probably didn’t do quite enough to dislodge Scott Wootton from the teamsheet heading into the game at Newport on Saturday, but there’s no denying this was a very encouraging debut display from the Chelsea youngster. He was a little reminiscent, actually, of Zak Vyner.
Even when he wasn’t doing anything especially fantastic, he had such an air of composure and confidence on the ball that you felt he was capable of a lot more if tested. A couple of lapses in concentration towards the end of the game restrict him to a 7 but it’s a promising start.
Niall Canavan, CB – 8
Canavan showed his usual defensive reliability in this game, winning almost everything in the air and sticking to his man like glue. Where he excelled more than he has in the first two games was in his passing out of defence. He found more time on the ball and often threaded good balls into space out of the defence, helping to start Argyle attacks.
He’s currently looking one of the safest names on Argyle’s teamsheet as we made it three clean sheets from three games.
Gary Sawyer, CB – 8
Like Canavan, Sawyer used the relatively slower tempo of the League Cup fixture to bring out more in his game than that which we’ve seen so far in the opening two league fixtures. He stuck to his man well and rarely was caught out of position, hence Orient barely had anything resembling a serious goalscoring attempt.
What was notably different was the fact he advanced forward more to join the attacking side of the game, demonstrating some good link-up play with McFadzean down the left hand side. Against sides who, like Orient, sat deep to try and soak up the pressure, Sawyer demonstrated he can help his teammates break them down.
Joe Edwards, CDM – 7
As on Saturday, we didn’t quite see the imperious, dominating Edwards that we witnessed in the first game of the season up at Crewe but, in a game where the opposition sat incredibly deep for most of it, the ex-Walsall man was really handy in just keeping the game ticking over and recycling possession of the ball. He’s one of those players who perhaps won’t be the most noticed during the match by many, but would certainly be noticed if absent.
Joe Riley, RWB – 7
Riley’s performance was one that very much improved as the game went on. In the first half, whilst he wasn’t bad by any stretch and did get involved in our attacking play, he too often made the wrong call in the final third and the quality of the final ball was a little lacking.
He improved hugely in his general play in the second half, stretching the Orient defence as well as going back to fulfill his defensive duties more than adequately.
Conor Grant, CM – 8, player of the match
One of the many topics of debate on this platform and others going into the season was whether Grant or Sarcevic would be preferred to partner Mayor in attacking central midfield. Whilst Sarcevic will probably be back in the side for Newport after his winning goal on Saturday, the Liverpudlian midfielder only intensified Ryan Lowe’s selection headache.
Grant was fairly good in the first half and stepped it up further in the second with some beautifully slick pass and move play that broke open Orient’s defence. He’ll be perhaps a little disappointed not to score after a few speculative shots. He also created openings for Sawyer and McFadzean.
Danny Mayor, CM – 8
After a first two displays in which, despite impressive goal involvements, Mayor could not be said to have been enormously involved in the game, he was dominant here. He wasn’t deeply involved in either goal but his general level of performance was consistently good for the duration of the game.
His passing and dribbling both seemed to have a much higher rate of success and, whilst he still didn’t quite hit top gear, he seemed to put the fear into Orient’s defenders in a way we’ve not yet quite seen. He put them on the back-foot and generated the dominance that allowed Argyle to create chances while the visitors were penned in and sat deep.
Callum McFadzean, LWB – 7
The man who barely scored for Bury can’t stop scoring for Argyle! At half-time, McFadzean was one of the weaker links in the display, with his final ball falling a little short and perhaps not showing for the ball quite as much as in previous games.
He came out a different beast for the second half though, roasting the Orient full-back with his pace and coming inside to score another goal that broke the deadlock for Argyle. If he can continue to score, and create as he did last season, Argyle could have a sublime player.
Ryan Taylor, ST – 7
Taylor had a pretty solid game, with some very calm and well-executed link-up play, such as when he laid the ball to Callum McFadzean for Argyle’s opener. He came short often to receive the ball and won a few good flick-ons in the first half as Argyle began to build pressure.
Where he lacked a little was in his likelihood to score: he rarely made killer runs to get onto the end of passes and he missed a free header from eight-yards that would have put us into the lead early in the game. He’s probably more likely to be used as a substitute over the course of the season unless he can find that killer instinct.
Dominic Telford, ST – 8
He wasn’t the most involved in the first-half but in a bizarre way, that’s not something Ryan Lowe will criticise him for – if anything he might be quite happy. Lowe has often spoke to the press about how he prefers his strikers to get into goal-scoring positions rather than come short too often and Telford certainly did that, as well as doing the selfless work by bringing the ball down deftly and bringing others into play when he had to.
His game was topped off by a fantastic run and lovely finish for the second after picking up a loose ball. Off and running for the season after his first start, he’ll be looking to force his way into Lowe’s team at Newport and start building towards a high goal-return for the season.
Jose Baxter, CDM/CM – 6
He’s a bit of an enigma of a player, this one. He clearly has the potential to be absolutely fantastic, as shown by some of his classy passes in tight spaces to move the ball forward for Argyle. However, as against Colchester, there were a few too many occasions where a lapse in concentration or passing had the potential to break down a move.
He also didn’t quite keep up with the pace of the game so well when he moved into the more advanced role. Still playing catch-up after his shortened pre-season and yet to re-emerge as the same player who starred for Sheffield United years ago. Still, there have been good enough signs from his three sub appearances, so give him time.
Byron Moore, ST – 6
Moore did his usual thing of pressing, sprinting and making a general nuisance of himself to opposition defenders. He may not get a great many goals over the season but how many goals will the team get as a result of defenders being pulled out of their position by the ex-Bury man?
Adam Randell, CDM – n/a
The youngster did seem to suffer with a little bit of stage-fright at times. There was a misplaced pass and an undercut header in our own half that nearly set Orient away. He did show some good passing though and there’s certainly a promising young player there to build on. Hopefully the first of many appearances to come.