Cod Almighty | Match Report
by Rich Mills
5 November 2017
Plymouth 0 Town 0
It was a bright, fresh Devon day and a thinnish crowd at both ends of Home Park shielded their eyes as Town aimed to repeat the performance of a year ago and turn over the Green Army to make some progress in a proper cup competition.
After some impressive displays in midweek, Russ decided to make changes and give some of the fringe players a start. Nah, of course he didn't, he stuck with the same starting XI which has stuttered and misfired so often this season.
Still, let's see how it goes. No point being negative is there?
As modern football dictates, we wore our blue change kit even though our famous black-and-white stripes would clearly not clash with Argyle's green. I sound like a grumpy old man sometimes. I'm not, you know, it's just that some elements of modern life really boil my piss. I really hate how singers bob up and down and gesticulate like they're trying to flag down a taxi. And just sing the fucking tune! If I wanted to hear someone yodelling I'd go on holiday to Switzerland.
Anyway, the football.
Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows McKeown, Davies, Clarke, Collins, Dixon, Dembele, Berrett, Summerfield, Woolford, Vernon and Jones. The substitutes were Killip, Mills, K Osborne, DJ, Cardwell, Matt and Hooper.
Town started brightly enough, moving the ball well with Berrett even forcing a save (well, a catch) from Matthews. And then Argyle, specifically Graham Carey, discovered Town’s Achilles' heel and we crumbled. We haven't replaced Danny Andrew and it doesn't take teams long to work that out. I'm surprised that it's not such common knowledge that they don't attack at pace down our left from the kick off.
Carey skinned Dixon so easily that he might as well have not been there. Carey could have gone back and done it again a couple of times and he still would have pulled it off, so unaware was our hapless left back. Collins couldn't get across quickly enough and Carey curled the ball over McKeown into the top corner. Nicely done.
Now, Slade or Wilko must see this; they must see Dixon struggling with the pace of the game, mustn't they? Does he need to go out on loan and build his confidence at a lower level? Why do we persist with him when it's clearly not working? It's unbalancing the side and affecting our centre backs as well as the left of midfield. Play Mills on the left or even Karleigh; maybe play a back three and five across the midfield but don't stick with this. Twist, man!
Worse than the goal was the Home Park goal celebration music. You're raving, Argyle if you think we want to be raving at the football.
The Green Army piled on the pressure but to no avail. Clarke saved Dixon's blushes with some alert covering. McKeown made a string of ace saves to deny Carey from a free kick and Jervis at close range.
On 25 minutes, Town made inroads into Argyle territory but a Woolford corner came to naught. A couple of minutes later, Sulky Jones volleyed one over the bar before a Berrett cross caused panic in the box and the Mariners queued up to have a poke at it without managing to nudge it in.
A good ten minutes of pressure showed that Town can create chances but it always seemed as though the wrong player was in the wrong place at the wrong time. If Vernon is winning the ball to play in Jones on the wing then who will be in the box for the resulting cross? Don't bother answering.
The half ended with Plymouth pressure. Clarke denied Jervis when he looked nailed on to score, then McKeown saved from Fox before Carey looked to replicate his goal, skinning Dixon but curling the ball slightly wide.
1-0 at half time seemed fair so we had a pint.
Have I mentioned Home Park’s floodlights? No? They're rubbish. Your local DIY superstore has better floodlights in their car park.
Town started the second half brightly, with Dembele shooting wide after linking with Vernon. Summerfield made the midfield tick and Argyle were forced into fouls to keep him in check. Dembele was again the playmaker as he linked with Jones to gift Woolford a glorious chance; an absolute sitter which he managed to scuff when one-on-one. Until then I'd not noticed him doing much.
Dembele was Town's standout performer in the second half, if not for consistency, then sheer skill as he tricked his way around four green-shirted players. If only he was a bit bigger, right? I know shorter players can succeed but sometimes young Siriki can be knocked off the ball a little easily. Buy the lad a pie and a pint and let's bulk him up. For the other lot, Carey was having a great game, much to the despair of Dixon.
Slade twisted on 68 minutes, bringing off Vernon and Woolford and introducing DJ and former Argyle man Matt to the proceedings. Within minutes Matt had a penalty shout turned down by referee Busby after tussling with Argyle's Songo'o but to be fair to the ref, he did hit the deck far too easily. Dixon then received a yellow shortly for taking out Carey as Argyle looked to counter.
A free-kick for Argyle from 25 yards came to nothing before Slade swapped Dembele for Cardwell. Why introduce another striker but take off the player most likely to create a chance for said striker? I dunno.
Town introduced some urgency for the final five minutes and woke up the support. Matthews saved from a Jones cross, Cardwell was brought down in the box and Berrett shot wide but it was too little too late and we can once again, ahem, concentrate on the League.
Not the worst game - we didn't just hoof it aimlessly - but it's so frustrating, knowing that probably we do have the players to do well, or at least better than we are doing. Put Dixon out of his misery; give Karleigh a chance; start DJ and get Osborne back as soon as he's fit and let's try and win games.