Beaten & Bruised - Argyle Lose Against Orient
Argyle lose a 2-1 lead to finish the game beaten 3-2 by a robust and cynical Leyton Orient team.
It was Dagenham and Redbridge part 2. Second from top of League Two lose against second from bottom.
From a sickening blow in the 88th minute as Leyton Orient equalised to a killer blow in the 94th minute as the thugs from the East scored the winner.
From starting the game with chants of 'ole' as we passed the ball around in attack to finishing the game with 'boos' for some poor defending.
Argyle were not helped by a weak referee. Chris Sarginson failed to get a grip on the rough tactics used by Leyton, one really nasty tackle took out Antoni Sarcevic and more followed, especially after the ball had gone.
But the referee is not entirely to blame, we just couldn't handle the robust style of football Leyton used and we couldn't cope with pace running at our defence, especially number 11 Gavin Massey who was the best player on the pitch.
The first 45 minutes was a game of two halves (two quarters?), we ran the show, full of confidence and looked to score with every attack.
But the early injury to defensive talisman Sonny Bradley seemed to disrupt us and Leyton and their strong arm brand of football took control.
Towards the end of the game we were hanging on for the 2-1 win which ended in a 3-2 defeat.
Argyle manager Derek Adams kept the same starting line-up that destroyed Exeter just a few days ago and we started the game on the front foot. Matty Kennedy and Ryan Taylor were very prominent up front, the style of football and the passing moves were the best seen at home this season, we looked a promotion chasing team.
The first goal came from a great move ending with Gary Sawyer crossing to the far post to Taylor, he headed down and there was Sarcevic to half-volley in from close range.
1-0 and just how many would we score?
Bradley went down injured, he wasn't physically assaulted by the Leyton players - probably the only Argyle player who wasn't - and had to be replaced by the right-footed Naurius Bulvitis playing at left centre-back.
We still had some momentum and Taylor was a handful up front while Kennedy caused panic in the Leyton defence by cutting inside.
David Fox had a long range shot just skip past the post and Yann Songo'o somehow managed to clear the crossbar from five yards out, it was easier to score.
Leyton then started to foul and foul and foul and once they realised the referee was weak they continued to leave a foot in or go through the back of Taylor.
Sarcevic was on the end of a really bad tackle and had to leave the pitch, job done as far as Leyton were concerned. Ryan Donaldson replaced him and played in the same position but the goal threat was not the same.
With the crowd now getting frustrated with Leyton's tactics and the referee's failure to take stronger action Leyton equalised. Massey strode through the Argyle defence and planted a 20-yard shot into the far corner. 1-1 at half-time.
We started the second half as we started the first half.
A jinking run from Kennedy saw him cut inside and just as Massey did minutes earlier he found the far corner of the net with a great solo goal.
2-1 and surely we should now wrap this game up?
Luke McCormick had to be alert to make a save from a rare Leyton attack.
It was nearly 3-1 when Kennedy hit the post with another superb shot and a rebound off Donaldson after a Leyton defender attempted to clear the ball hit the post and rolled along the goal line.
With the police in the stadium now looking more interested in the physical assaults on the Argyle players than the referee we started to hit the panic button.
Jervis replaced the ineffective Graham Carey.
Leyton found a new lease of life and safe in the knowledge that they wouldn't be sent off they started to take control of the game.
We were hanging on and only some last ditch defending kept us in front.
We didn't help ourselves by giving the ball away.
It looked like we weathered the storm from the 12 men of Leyton but poor defending left Massey unmarked at the far post and he equalised in the 88th minute. Unbelievable!
We surged forward to try and grab the winner, this left the back door open and Leyton forced a counter-attack, McCormick made a good save from a low shot but the ball fell to Somedo who slotted into an empty net and secure a crazy 3-2 win for Leyton.
In this game a watershed for the rest of the season? Do we feel sorry for ourselves after losing a game so late and losing two key players for what could be long term injuries?
Either way, how can we go from playing like a team heading for promotion and playing classy attacking football to a nervous team who can't defend against players running at our back line just an hour or so later?
Leyton are another team who knew we can't handle robust tactics but a different referee might have seen one or two red cards and a different result?
Taylor, Kennedy and Sarcevic again had good games. The hold up play from Taylor, despite no protection from the ref, was fantastic. He was able to bring others into play and set-up the attacks.
Kennedy carried a goal threat whenever he attacked and Sarcevic caused problems with his late runs until he was cruelly hacked down.
Carey had a quiet game and didn't step up when we needed him.
Bulvitis did ok but he's no Sonny Bradley and his poor distribution sometimes caused problems.
Songo'o played more as a third centre-back during the later stages of the game but he, Jakub Sokolik and Bulvitis were rabbits caught in the headlights when Massey and his mates started running at them.
Donaldson is a good utility player but he was the wrong choice to replace Sarcevic, a better attacking option would have been Tanner with Carey moving into Sarcevic's position.
Adams continued with the zonal system when defending set-pieces and it worked for most of the game until we left Massey unmarked at the far post after clearing a corner.
We should blame the ref but also take some of the blame for poor defending during that panic manic last 20 minutes.
A win against Hartlepool on Saturday is now a must.
Man of the Match: Kennedy.
McCormick 6, Threlkeld 6, Sokolik 5, Bradley 6, Sawyer 7, Songo'o 6, Fox 7, Carey 6, Kennedy 8, Sarcevic 7, Taylor 7. Subs: Donaldson 5, Bulvitis 5, Jervis n/a.
Can we sign Gavin Massey for next season? Credit to the Orient fans for travelling so far on a Tuesday to watch a struggling team.