Argyle Flat As A Pancake In Notts Defeat
It was a Shrove Tuesday horror show at Home Park as Argyle lost 1-0 to Notts County.
The winning goal came in the 21st minute when Jorge Grant slotted in after a huge mistake by Argyle skipper and keeper Luke McCormick.
Argyle were lacklustre for most of the game with their performance as a flat as a pancake!
The result continued the curse of the Tuesday night home games.
Since Argyle dropped into League Two in 2011 we've played 18 league games at Home Park on a Tuesday night and have won just three, drawn eight and lost seven, including this game against Notts County.
We were good and bad tonight. We passed the ball well during the first half and supplied several good crosses, especially from Graham Carey, but there was no-one in the box to convert.
We gifted Notts County the winner with a howler from McCormick, he struggled to control a back pass and didn't put his foot through the ball, he was closed down and managed to get the ball away to Sonny Bradley on the edge of the area, he was also guilty of not getting rid of the ball, he lost it and Grant slotted into an empty net. Comical and schoolboy defending.
We should have had a penalty in the closing stages of the game, substitute Jordan Slew was twisting and turning in the box and was about to shoot but was brought down, the ref blew his whistle and everyone thought he would point to the penalty spot but amazingly upon amazingly he ruled that Slew had dived and awarded a free-kick to Notts and booked Slew!
Why would Slew dive when he's about to shoot?
The most disappointing thing for me was Carey, he was our best player in the first half but disappeared for the second half. Just when a team and fans needs its best player to pull them out of the mire he downs tools and became invisible for the second half.
The saving grace is that other results went our way and this defeat and lacklustre performance will hopefully not damage us too much.
Midfielder David Fox missed the game because of being physically assaulted at Luton over the weekend, the police are still investigating, and boy did we miss his calm influence.
Sokolik was brought into defence and Yann Songo'o moved into midfield.
We started well, Matty Kennedy, Gary Sawyer and Carey were combining well on the left and several crosses were supplied into the Notts area but there was no player in the vicinity to finish them off.
After a quiet start Tanner started to get into the game which meant we were able to attack down the right side instead of just the left side.
We looked suspect at the back whenever Notts attacked and sure enough we gifted Notts a goal straight from the playground.
McCormick didn't control a backpass, he was closed down and lost the ball, Bradley was on hand on the edge of the area but he also lost the ball and Grant easily scored what proved to be the winner.
Argyle collectively dropped their heads once that goal went in.
Soon after Forte was booked for a foul on McCormick, it was a loose ball that McCormick was slow to react to and I felt Forte had every right to challenge for the ball. Most fans were calling for a red card but a yellow card was the right decision.
We ran out of steam, ideas and momentum and half time couldn't arrive quickly enough.
For the second half Argyle manager Derek Adams replaced Craig Tanner with Jimmy Spencer and changed to a 3-4-1-2 formation with Songo'o moving into defence, Sawyer and Oscar Threlked as wing-backs and Kennedy operating behind Spencer and Ryan Taylor.
The move gave us some energy and attack-minded and got the crowd behind the players.
We didn't create clear cut chances but now instead of turning and playing the safe ball backwards the players were now looking to play forward - except it didn't work. We once again ran out of steam and ideas, nothing was working for us.
Jake Jervis replaced Sokolik and played as a wing-back with Threlkeld moving into Sokolik's position in defence.
We were now playing long high balls up to Spencer and Taylor, sometimes it worked but most times it didn't with any knock downs going to a black and white shirt.
Carey had a 20-yard shot just fly wide, while Slew came on for Kennedy and his first touch was a shot, something we had not seen for a while.
Slew was causing problems and another shot just rested on top of the net and then came that 'penalty' decision. We shouldn't blame referees but just lately several decisions have gone against us and Gavin Ward decided Slew had dived just as he was about to score the equalising goal. Bizarre.
To compound our desperation we finished the game with Bradley upfront but it was game over.
The pressure is now on to win against Carlisle on Saturday, we won't beat Blackpool next week because that's a Tuesday night home game so three points this Saturday is a must.
This was probably our worst defensive display of the season, however the whole team were way off the pace and lacked any urgency. Is Adams still organising double training sessions?
McCormick's handling is excellent, except he is poor with the ball at his feet.
Sarvevic had his worst game since singing and coupled with Carey's second half no show it meant we had no midfield.
Songo'o tried hard and his blocks and covering tackles will go unnoticed because he loses the ball when a simple pass is all that he has to do.
Taylor was our best player, he battled and held up the ball well. Kennedy is fast becoming a one-trick pony that any club with a scouting network will have soon worked out. If he's not a match-winner he becomes a passenger in games like this but he'll come good again.
On this display Slew deserves a starting place again.
Credit to Notts County, they did a job on us and looked like a team in second place in the league and not near the bottom. A deserved win for them but with a better referee it could have been a draw.
Two points from a possible 12, including successive home defeats means we are officially in a slump.
Man of the Match: Taylor.
McCormick 4, Threlkeld 5, Sokolik 4, Bradley 5, Sawyer 5, Songo'o 5, Carey 5, Sarcevic 5, Tanner 5, Kennedy 5, Taylor 7. Subs: Spencer 5, Jervis 5, Slew 7.