Writer: Ian De-Lar
Date:Saturday September 29 2012
Argyle 1-1 Southend United
MacDonald 50. Assombalonga 54.
Cole 7, Berry 7, Purse 6, Blanchard 7, Williams 7, MacDonald 7 (Chadwick), Young 7, Hourihane 7, Bhasera 8, Feeney 7 (Cowan-Hall 7), Madjo 8 (Griffiths 5).
Subs not used: Chenoweth, Nelson, Gurrieri, Lecointe.
Argyle secured a point against an in-form Southend side who had won five of their last seven games but it could and should have been so much better.
It's another home game where Argyle look unbeatable for 20-30 minutes of a half, playing good attacking and attractive football but fail to punish the opposition and are left holding on at the end.
A pattern is emerging for home games so far this season where we can't put a full 90 minute performance together; however, a nice little run is developing where we have lost just one game from the last six.
There was surprise and frustration before the game when on-loan midfielder Ross Jenkins was missing through injury and there was concern that young midfielders Luke Young and Conor Hourihane would struggle against Paul Sturrock's robust biters and scratchers. We needn't have worried.
It was a welcome return to Home Park for Chris Barker (#bigoldunit) at left-back and Alex MacDonald must have fancied his chances against the veteran defender.
The game started slowly as both sides started to feel themselves into the contest, although it was Argyle who sprang to life first with MacDonald and Onismor Bhasera taking the game to Southend on each flank.
It was Bhasera who had the first chance but his right-foot shot was easily saved by Daniel Bentley.
Bhasera then headed wide after a good move involving Guy Madjo and MacDonald; Argyle were now hitting their stride and playing good attractive football with Madjo and Warren Feeney running the channels and causing problems.
However, despite Argyle's domination it was Southend who had the best chances with Jake Cole saving well from Eliot Benyon and Assombalonga. In short, Southend worked Cole while Argyle, despite looking the better team, only forced one save from Bentley.
Nonetheless, it was a good half from Argyle, if only we could have scored while on top. The crowd appreciated the football by applauding the team off at half-time.
Argyle started the second half in perfect style when Madjo did well to set-up MacDonald who slotted in from close range, his little legs going faster than a drugged-up, paranoid, internet keyboard warrior typing his latest rant/comedy piece.
The goal lifted Southend rather than Argyle and as in previous home games we retreated into our shell and defended deeper and deeper.
A long ball to Assombalonga looked to be no danger to the Argyle defence but the striker turned well and beat Purse and gave Cole no chance.
1-1, a sucker punch and a 'kick in the teeth'.
Carl Fletcher replaced Feeney and Madjo with Rhys Griffiths and Paris Cowan-Hall but the move had a negative effect and both subs failed to match the efforts of Feeney and Madjo.
Southend bombarded Argyle with crosses and long throws but we held on, helped by Barry Corr needlessly kicking out at Purse and receiving the red card from the excellent ref.
Argyle did rally late in the game and created a half-chance but the game should have been won in that 30 minute spell of domination in the first half.
Every point is a prisoner and this could prove to be a valuable point against a top on form.
Argyle just need a break to grab a goal or two while dominating the game. The final ball just needs to be that little bit better and we will punish teams.
I wouldn't mind signing Madjo, he's a team player, offering himself as a target, running the channels and encouraging other players. It's a big pity he was replaced.
Berry and Williams had good games yet again, although the booking for Berry will mean he misses the game against Wycombe on Tuesday.
It's clear Purse is trying to play through an injury and taking one for the team.
Bhasera's performances mirror the team performances, when he plays well the team does likewise, when he's anonymous the team struggles.
A fair result in the end and well played Argyle.
Man of the match: Madjo.
Date:Saturday September 29 2012
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