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Cheltenham match report
03 September 2016 17:53 Post ID: #71827
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Argyle nicked a 1-0 win against Cheltenham courtesy of a 92nd minute header from Sonny Bradley at a very wet Home Park.

It was a battle. Both teams had to battle each other, the heavy rain, the swirling wind and a poor referee and in the end we just edged it thanks to a late goal from Bradley.

Argyle were not at their best but it's testament to the team that they dug in, showed some grit and determination and ground out the win. We struggled against a Cheltenham team who played with three centre-backs and two wing-backs tucking into midfield to outnumber us, number 7 for Cheltenham Pell was particularly good in midfield and pulled the strings.

The first half was ponderous with the terrible conditions playing a part, we played too many passes backwards and had no momentum but the introduction of David Fox and especially Arnold Garita in the second half gave the team more options to go forward.

It's now four league wins in succession and we move into the top three in the league, a position we occupied for most of last season.

Argyle boss Derek Adams started with the team that beat Blackpool last week except Ben Purrington came in at left back for the injured Gary Sawyer and stuck with the 4-2-1-3 formation.

There was an early substitution when Jimmy Spencer pulled up with a leg injury and was replaced by dAVID Goodwillie in the seventh minute. I thought at the time that Goodwillie would struggle against the big Cheltenham centre-backs and so it proved, although when the ball was played to his feet he fared better.

The heavy rain continued to pour down and the new pitch handled it with no concerns.

We were very slow in our play, the two centre-backs and keeper Luke McCormick McCormick must have had the most touches of the ball during the whole game and play went either backwards or sideways as we struggled to break down a robust Cheltenham team.

Bradley had a header go wide and Jake Jervis shot wide when he should have done better.
At the other end McCormick made a great save to keep the game at 0-0, that was about it for the first half apart from the rain easing from very heavy rain to just plain old heavy rain.

Adams kept the same formation and players for the start of the second half but became increasingly frustrated on the touchline as yet again the team showed no urgency.
After just eight minutes he had enough and replaced Jervis and the anonymous Ryan Donaldson for Fox and Garita and switched to a 4-4-2 formation - Graham Carey went to the left, Connor Smith to the right, Fox partnered Yann Songo'o in midfield and Garita went up front alongside Goodwillie.

The move gave the team a targatman up front and suddenly Garita started to cause the Cheltenham centre-backs all sorts of problems.
The referee wanted to take centre-stage and instead of letting the game flow he pulled up every little incident without allowing for the wet conditions.

Goodwillie had two excellent chances, his first was well saved by Griffiths the Cheltenham keeper and his second shot was blocked but at least we were knocking on the door.

We ran out of steam after the initial enthusiasm of the subs and Cheltenham came back into the game with Pell again orchestrated the play, the long throws were cauing us problems but Bully and Bradley got their heads on the ball to clear it.
Cheltenham nearly took the lead when they hit the post.

Adams was again frustrated and after kicking the brand new dug-outs he changed formation again and put Carey in behind the two strikers and played a narrow three man midfield.

With three minutes of injury time announced the Son finally shined on Home Park. A deep cross from Oscar Threlkeld found Bradley at the far post and just like he does in defence and lept the highest and thumped in a towering header. 1-0 and what a great late goal!

The game was won and it's time to dry off!

The first half was one to forget, scrappy and slow and a reluctance to take the game to Cheltenham, for instance Threlkeld had a free-kick just inside the Argyle half and chose to pass backwards to Nauris Bulvitis when he should have gone forwards. There were too many backpasses to McCormick and we were just slow in everything we did although credit to Cheltenham who marked Carey out of the game and closed us down in midfield.

The second half was better, Garita was a willing runner and always looked to get away a shot, we might finally have a striker who has pace, height and strength to play the lone striker role, although today he had Goodwillie alongside him for help. It was disappointing that for 53 minutes we played one striker against three centre-backs in a home game.

Donaldson can play shape but needs to do more, Jervis is a confidence type of play and didn't look confident today.
Purrington gave away the ball several times but his tackling and covering was excellent. He and Threlkeld rarely crossed the halfway line in the first half.
The two centre-backs were our rock, Bradley was my Man of the Match even before he scored the winner.
Goodwillie was neat and tidy but is always going to struggle when asked to play as a lone striker.

Overall, a scrappy game but formation changes and determination won us the game.

Man of the match: Bradley.

McCormick 7, Threlkeld 6, Bulvitis 7, Bradley 8, Purrington 8, Songo'o 6, Smith 6, Carey 6, Donaldson 5, Jervis 5, Spencer n/a. Subs - Goodwillie 6, Garita 7, Fox 7.
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