Date: 16th January 2016 at 6:10pm
Written by:

Three first half goals was enough for Argyle to beat Stevenage 3-2 and remain top of League Two.

Phew, we made hard work of that!

At half-time we were coasting and it was looking like how many would we score in the second half but two subs for Stevenage changed the momentum and an early second half goal gave Stevenage some hope.
However, after riding out the storm we dug in, creating some chances and made sure we won the three points that keep us top of the league.

The first half display, despite the awful pitch, was one of the best 45 minutes seen at home this season, the biggest compliment is that the home fans finally saw an away performance at Home Park because that’s how we play on the road.

A special mention for the referee who was hardly noticed and one of the best this season.

Adams changed the formation for this game and returned to his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation and bringing Wylde and Tanner back into the team was a masterstroke because not only did they score that also played well, especially Wylde.
Brunt was unluckily shunted to the bench along with Threlkeld but both would make a contribution later in the game.

We had the perfect start when scoring after just three minutes. Jervis is now on corner duties from the left side and his delivery is a lot better than Tanner’s and found the head of McHugh who thumped in at the near post.
By going ahead so early Stevenage could not waste time and use the black arts they are well known for.

Just three minutes later Stevenage themselves scored from a corner and it was a sloppy goal to concede.
The flag kick wasn’t cleared and Lee finished off with a close range shot. 1-1.

It was a minor set-back because Argyle were playing the ball around well, creating chances and looking very confident.
The free-flowing football, pass and move and chances created were one of the best seen this season and worthy of champions elect.

Reid had a chance but his shot was well saved by Day and similar for Jervis, who was having a very good game.
It was a cross from Jervis that gave us the deserved lead, his effort found the smallest player on the pitch in Wylde who headed in from close range. 2-1.

We nearly scored a third goal in bizarre fashion. We broke away and Reid tried to play a cross field pass to Jervis except a Stevenage defender cleared the ball against his own player, the ball rebounded off him and hit the crossbar.

We did score the deserved third goal when Tanner twisted and turned and shot into the far corner. 3-1 at half-time and it should have been six.

Stevenage made two changes at half-time but the biggest difference was their change in attitude. Suddenly they were closing down our midfield, hassling and tackling and the momentum changed.
By now every League Two team must know our Achilles Heel is that we can’t cope when teams close us down, Northampton were the latest team to do it to us on Tuesday.

The new tactics from Stevenage allowed them to grab a goal back and it was another sloppy goal to concede. A cross wasn’t cleared and Lee scored his second goal of the game.
There was now panic amongst the Argyle players and in the stands.

We weathered the Stevenage storm, they really didn’t deserve one goal let alone two!

Reid now had his best spell of the game and held the ball up well for his team, he also did so some of his trademark runs when coming in from the wide areas.
Reid and Jervis both had shots saved by Day, the game clinching fourth goal just wouldn’t come.

Substitutes Threlkeld and Brunt added some strength in the closing stages and there was still a feeling of anxiety whenever Stevenage approached our penalty area, surely a draw or even a defeat would be the biggest and most damaging disaster this season?
It was the two subs who combined and nearly scored the fourth goal but firstly Threlkeld had his shot saved and the follow-up from Brunt was cleared.

No worries, we saw out the game and claimed the win but it should have been a lot easier and more relaxing.

Wylde had his best game for a long time, full of energy, his corners from the right side, while not as good as Jervis’, still caused problems and he popped up with a goal.

Jervis had a very good first 45 minutes and provided two assists.
McHugh and Simpson were solid and steady in midfield, although McHugh is more consistent than Simpson, you know what to expect from McHugh for each game.

Mellor played well and his improved performance might have something to do with having Forster on the bench.
Reid improved as the game wore on and will be back to his best with more games under his belt.
Nelson and Hartley struggled with the pace of the Stevenage strikers but again they gave 100% effort.
McCormick had a much better game than he did against Northampton although there is a concern about the sloppy goals he is conceding.

Overall, a superb first half, well played, it was a must win game so it’s job done!

11 points clear of fourth place in League Two and a massive 16 points in front of eighth place, not bad eh!

Man of the match: Wylde.

McCormick 7, Mellor 6, Nelson 6, Hartley 6, Sawyer 6, McHugh 7, Simpson 6, Tanner 6, Wylde 8, Jervis 7, Reid 7. Brunt 6, Threlkeld 6.