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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Finding The Net

Home Park was a rather grim place to be on Saturday; there was an Arctic wind blowing - though coming from the West, it seemed to penetrate to the bone. And penetration was something that Argyle didn't have a lot of as they ran around, often with little invention or flair, looking for that two posted object at the end of the pitch.

Most of Argyle's strike force struggled to find any rhythm; Reid was trying (very trying) but it just wasn't happening for him as he continually ran up a cul de sac, and he seems to hit the ball too softly when passing. Banton was nowhere near the terrifier of defences that he was last year and he too became derailed far too easily (but he should get better).

The first groans from the frost bitten crowd had come even before the game had kicked off, when it was announced that this was the ref's first league game. As it turned out though, he was actually quite effective. But the whinging was a portent of things to come and you just knew that, the longer we went without a goal, the grandstand brigade would gradually revert to negativity, poor attempts at witty humour and abuse hurled at our players - and they did. They were at their best. Why do I sit in that section? - my belated NY resolution: sit somewhere else!

Back to the football and a positive note; Alessandra. He had a really good game, apart from one unforced error five yards out from goal. Our most potent player, he ran his socks off and deserved to get the winning goal which was probably missed by half the crowd, it being scored in the 96th minute.
I would say 'serves them right' but they might be reading this, so I won't say it.

But the team were getting nowhere fast and, given that Mansfield were very average (more like does than stags), that's not a good omen for the rest of Argyle's season. Frustration reigned at Home Park and I couldn't stop shivering.

Half time is currently somewhat of a non event at Home Park - something just to get through really. Surely the club could do better? But it was good to see Dave Smith who ranks high in the managerial history of PAFC, and it was interesting to hear his comments about the current set up. Far more entertaining than half time was when two Mansfield supporters were ejected. Highly amusing.

I was hoping for the classic game of two halves, but what we got was more of the same and it was no surprise when we went 1-0 down. Then came a rather questionable substitution - Blizzard was taken off yet was the second most effective attacking player. Anyway, we now had Thomas and Harvey on the pitch and the former was instrumental in the goal with a very nice piece of jinking.
You can't help wondering whether Argyle's problems can be summed up in two sentences: first, we miss Lavery as much as Romeo missed Juliet (answer: get someone else in like Caolan?); secondly, are some of our players not in their best positions? A minor adjustment for Banton (plus a bit more fitness) might help, for example. Young is a good footballer but couldn't re- create on Saturday the free kick heaven from the Cheltenham game. He took three free kicks on Saturday but each one flopped like a lettuce leaf. Why not vary the free kicks? - they were too predictable surely. Hourihane worked hard to keep the team going until the winner was scored - a good captain's performance.

The match got to 96 minutes due to a minor tiff between Trotman and McCormick and an injury to the latter which delayed the game. Too much is being made of this and I don't blame John Sheridan for playing it down. Some quarters are saying that it epitomised a poor team spirit but the evidence, ie the team fought to equalise right to the end, suggests otherwise. Anyway, Luke had to go off and on came Jake Cole.

It was all pointing to a home defeat until Lewis's smash and grab at the end. Twenty pounds or so to get in and half of them missed it. Football supporters are weird. Eleven points from the play offs and eighteen matches left - forget it! But they need to keep fighting because a nine point descent to the relegation places can easily be made. Already, we're looking to next season but one thing is for sure - if Argyle are to be promotion candidates then, there's a lot of work to do in creating a team to be reckoned with.

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The Journalist

Writer: Mike G Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday February 2 2014

Time: 4:34PM

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Lavery has been a big miss, we need to either get him back or sign a striker very similar to him.

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