Poor Argyle Back In the Drop Zone
Argyle 0 - 1 Gillingham - Martin 23.
Cole 6, Bignot 6 (Berry 6), Purse 7, Blanchard 7, Williams 7, Young 5, Wotton 6 (Walton 6), Hourihane 4, Hemmings 5 (Tsoumou 5), MacDonald 7, Chadwick 5.
Subs not used: Larrieu, Daley.
Six months and 25 games since Carl Fletcher took charge and nothing has changed - Argyle are still deep in the relegation zone!
A woeful home display against a Gillingham team that was reduced to 10 ten men after 30 minutes leaves the Pilgrims' looking for a lifeline.
With other results going against Argyle it's now looking very worrying.
Our situation isn't helped when the team is sent out to play a vital home game with a 4-5-1 formation with just Nick Chadwick as the lone striker. The plan may have been to play 4-3-3 but that just didn't happen and the players never recovered from that early defensive mindset and the damage was done.
With the players we now have the team really should be doing a lot better than this. The tactics and simple basics are just not right, too many times a free-kick in a promising position was over-hit or a simple pass to a team mate 10 yards away was misplaced. Basics, basics, basics!
The team has the fight and determination, there's no doubt about that, but the right tactics and game plan are missing.
Why not attack a team like Gillingham from the first whistle?
Gillingham had the early initiative and should have been two goals up before they eventually scored.
Joe Martin (pictured above), who had just been booked, had acres of room in midfield and from 30 yards out he hit a screamer past Jake Cole to give Gillingham a deserved lead.
Just seconds before the goal Fletcher changed the defence-minded formation to a more attacking 4-4-2 line-up.
Gillingham then slowed the game down with gamesmanship that annoyed most fans in Home Park.
A broken finger nail to a Gillingham player would result with that poor player lying down as though he was shot. On came the physio and any momentum that Argyle had was lost. The black arts at its worst (or best?).
This routine was a feature of the first half.
A stronger ref would have put a stop to all this but Mr Brown did help Argyle by sending off Martin for a second bookable offence in the 30th minute. Argyle now had an hour to come back and win the game.
However, with Chadwick and Hemmings out of form and Hourihane not creating anything it was left to MacDonald to provide the skill and guile to break down a resolute Gillingham defence but the Burnley loanee was shunted around into three different positions and his influence faded as the game progressed.
The question has to be asked: Why are out of form players getting the shirt when there are suitable replacements within the squad? The team cannot afford to carry any passengers at this stage of the season.
Gillingham nearly doubled their lead in the second half when Jo Kuffour hit the post with an angled shot and MacDonald repeated the feat for Argyle when his 25-yard shot bounced off the woodwork.
Chances fell to Chadwick and Tsoumou but were wasted and the feeling was the team could spend a few days out on the pitch and still not score.
As expected the 10 men of Gillingham won.
If only skill and guile could be added to the fight, character and effort of the team.
The squad is crying out for a creative midfielder to open up a tight defence.
The players are giving everything but it's not enough to beat teams.
Something needs to change.
Man of the match: Purse.