Super Chopra Sinks Sad Argyle
18/08/09 @ 1945
Michael Chopra scored a superb hattrick to sink Argyle at Home Park. Argyle were once again poor, the only consolation being a penalty goal for debutant, Alan Gow.
Cardiff scored in the 4th minute and seemed to play much of the game in 2nd gear. Argyle had periods of pressure, but (as in the QPR game) created little from open play. Argyle had numerous set pieces but the delivery and movement was continually sub standard.
The Cardiff side passed and moved well. They mixed their play and used the strong target man, Boothroyd to hold the ball up. In contrast Argyle struggled to maintain forward passing moves, too often players looked to pass sideway or backwards. Mackie made the odd threatening run, but the end product was sadly lacking.
I'm hoping Sturrock took note over how Cardiff used Boothroyd. When the ball was played towards him, Cardiff players moved into space around him, so his flicks were often picked up. When Argyle hoofed the ball to Fallon, he was isolated and lost the ball instantly. This does not excuse Fallon's play as quite often his headers were wayward or he'd make a half hearted attempt to go for the ball.
Visiting scouts would have made an easy assessment of how to play Argyle at Home Park, just pressurise the man on the ball. Argyle would build an attack, then go sideways, then backwards, then pass back to Larrieu, who would then hit a hurried ball towards Fallon. When Argyle did attack down the wing, in the Cardiff half, no player would run into space near the person with the ball, most ran to the far post and the ball would once again go backwards or would be lost.
Argyle selected 10 of the 11 who started against QPR. MacLean was dropped from the squad in favour of Sheridan. Once again Sturrock went for the 4-3-3 formation which seemed to fail against QPR. Sheridan played on the left and Mackie on the right.
Argyle started fairly well and Fallon had a flicked header saved by Marshall. On 4 minutes, Cardiff scored their first. A poor kick by Larrieu resulted in Cardiff attacking down their left. Boothroyd easily beat Sawyer and crossed to Chopra who had an easy finish from 8 yards.
Argyle tried to force an equaliser a minute later when Sheridan forced a good save from Marshall with a header that was deflected for a corner. From Judge's dangerous corner on the right, Marshall, punched the ball for another corner with Fallon just missing a connection at the far post.
On 7 minutes, former Rangers player, Chris Burke, easily beat Gary Sawyer and crossed into the box. Boothroyd connected with a goalbound header, that Timar did well to head over for a corner, on his own goal-line.
Sheridan tested Marshall again with a mis-hit drive from 20 yards, that the Scottish keeper struggled to tip wide for a corner. Boothroyd had a strong run stopped by Timar, but the forward laid the ball to Chopra, whose shot hit Seip and went wide.
On 18 minutes, Cardiff defender, Gerrard, started a spell of poor, dirty fouls by the Welsh side. As Sheridan broke through, Gerrard kicked the young Irishman's leg with a high tackle. Sheridan needed minutes of treatment and was substituted 5 minutes later for Gow (Argyle changed to 4-4-2 also). Gerrard was booked for the foul.
On 23 minutes Sawyer was beaten by Burke, again, but the winger was scythed down by the Argyle left back, for a deserved yellow card. On 27 minutes, former Argyle player, Capaldi, committed an awful tackle from behind on Mackie (some refs may have given a straight red) and he too received a yellow.
It is important to take chances at any level, but Mackie missed an easy chance on 34 minutes which probably had a bearing on the game. Fletcher hit a shot from 20 yards which deflected into Mackie's path. Goalkeeper Marshall had already committed to the dive, and Mackie had a virtually open goal from 8 yards. Mackie rolled the ball just wide of goal, when he should have scored. A minute later, the Cardiff right back, Matthews, received a booking for a late tackle on Alan Judge.
On 38 minutes, another Sawyer mistake almost cost another goal. Cardiff had a long throw on their left and the ball was crossed to the far post. Sawyer jumped to head the ball, but completely missed and the ball fell to Burke, 8 yards from goal. His shot was well saved by Larrieu for a corner.
Argyle had a couple of chances before half time, with a good Judge low cross and a poor Fallon one, and then half time arrived.
Argyle started the second half well and had 10 minutes of pressure. Fallon headed against the top of the bar after a deep Patterson cross and Gow had a weak shot saved easily,after good work from David McNamee.
On 55 minutes, McNamee crossed to no Argyle player in the box, and the ball was cleared to Jim Patterson on the 18 yard line. He hit a lofted shot, which was comfortablty saved by Marshall.
Argyle started to struggle once again, and Cardiff almost scored their second on 63 minutes. After a Cardiff free-kick was cleared, the Argyle defence ran forward, but the ball was lofted back over their heads. Chopra, who looked offside, raced onto the ball and was clean through. Larrieu quickly reacted and narrowed the angle well, resulting in Chopra shooting wide (n.b. this move was repeated later in the game leading to the second goal).
On 71 minutes Gow fired a rising drive over and Cardiff appealed for a penalty when the ball hit Sawyer after a Chopra shot (looked ball to hand) a minute later.
Onm 73 minutes Gow and McNamee combined well on the right and set up Judge whose shot deflected wide for a corner. Fallon met Judge's corner and his header hit the top corner of the bar and deflected over for a goal kick.
Judge was substitiuted soon after, for Craig Noone. The decision was met by a chorus of boos and chants of 'You don't know what you're doing!' aimed at Sturrock.
On 79 minutes it was game over. Chopra had a shot that hit the bar, from 20 yards, and the rebound appeared to hit Seip on the arm. Argyle cleared the ball and ran forward, and once again the ball was played over their heads to Chopra. Chopra jinked past the onrushing Larrieu and dribbled the ball into the net.
5 minutes later and it was a hattrick for Chopra. Burke beat Sawyer, once again, and raced into the box. Seip was adjudged to have fouled the winger, and Chopra cooly rolled the resultant penalty into Larrieu's bottom left hand corner.
But 4 minutes later, Argyle had some consolation (not much though). A deep Sawyer cross was handled in the Cardiff box as Fallon tried to head the ball, and Argyle were awarded a penalty. Capaldi received a second yellow card and was given the 'Cheerio' treatment by the crowd. Gow then fired the ball into Marshall's bottom left to score a goal on his debut.
3 minutes of injury time came and went and Argyle were easily beaten. Cardiff fans chanted 'You're getting sacked in the morning' (at Sturrock), some Argyle fans must be hoping for the same.
Argyle have now won 5 games in 32 which is clearly not good enough. The side looks as poor as it did last season and Sturrock and his coaches clearly do not know how to play at Home Park.
Sturrock and his coaching staff need to look at Argyle's style and tactics. Cardiff showed how to pass and move, whereas Argyle employed the pass and move backwards tactic. The long hoof to Fallon is not successful because he is too isolated.
I wonder if heads will roll or some other lame excuse is used (again). Only 21 League games (of pain) to go!