Argyle’s mauling by Tigers highlights areas to improve
Argyle boss Ryan Lowe
14th April 2021
I’d have loved this first column in your brand-new Saltash Voice to be all about another excellent Plymouth Argyle victory. Alas, we do not live in a perfect world.
Yes, Argyle were on the losing side again at the weekend as Ryan Lowe’s charges succumbed to a 3-0 humbling at home to League One leaders Hull City, all but ending even the most green tinted of Pilgrims’ hopes of making a late break for the play-offs.
Argyle are still mathematically in with a shout of booking their spot in the end-of-season extravaganza - they sit 11 points off sixth-placed Lincoln with five games to play - but mathematically does not necessarily mean realistically, and realistically that particular ship sailed some time ago.
While defeat to the in-form league leaders is hardly a yardstick for summing up a team’s season, defensive frailties in Saturday’s loss did highlight just why Argyle will not be play-off contenders.
All three goals came off the back of defensive errors, some more glaring than others.
The Tigers’ 11th-minute opener came as livewire midfielder George Honeyman hit the turf under Tyrese Fornah’s heavy challenge. The Pilgrims were half-asleep as Honeyman’s quickly-taken free-kick made its way to Keane Lewis-Potter inside the box, who stroked the ball past Michael Cooper.
No further goals arrived before the break, and a bright start to the second half was undone on 55 minutes when Jerome Opoku was robbed of the ball deep in his own half by Honeyman, who quickly laid it off for Josh Magennis to calmly slot into the net under little pressure.
Argyle never looked like threatening a comeback, but defeat was confirmed with 15 minutes to go when a wayward pass from Kelland Watts was snaffled by Greg Docherty, who marched into Argyle territory before laying it off to Lewis-Potter on the left, who played it back inside for Docherty to fire past Cooper with aplomb.
With that, Hull had clinched another three points to aid their bid for an instant return to the Championship, and Argyle had edged another 90 minutes closer to the end of a campaign that will conclude on May 8.
That’s not to say that this season has been a failure - Argyle are still a newly-promoted side after all - but the absence of a reliable defence to complement a promising forward line is sure to leave Argyle fans wondering what might have been.
The dire defensive situation can be summed up with this telling statistic: Argyle’s 66 goals conceded in the league this season is the fourth highest in the division - the top three are all in the relegation zone - and joint sixth highest out of the 114 sides in England’s top five divisions.
It’s not hard to see what needs to be worked on in the summer.