Date: 19th March 2016 at 6:23pm
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A must-win game for Argyle against Luton Town at Home Park finished with a damaging 1-0 defeat, dropping the Greens out of the automatic promotion places into fourth place on goal difference.

Jack Marriott grabbed the only goal of the game in the 27th minute.

Where did it all go wrong?

A damaging defeat just when teams around us are digging out wins, even coming from behind to win.
In a perverse sort of way it might do the team some good to have a short spell in the play-off positions, the pressure will be off and pressure switched to the teams in the automatic places. We can then regroup and aim for a five or six match winning run at the end of the season.

Fourth place in League Two is our lowest league position since September.

Luton were a tough and robust team, often defending with every player behind the ball, we found it difficult to break them down, our approach play was good enough but it was the final ball, cross or pass that let us down, typified when Wylde raced away and had the option of three other players to pass to with only one defender to beat, he chose the wrong pass and the chance of a goal was gone.

However, you have to question why we played with just one striker for 83 minutes in a match we were losing?
Loan striker Matt did a good job up front on his own but it would have been good to see a strike partner alongside him, instead Adams subbed him for Reid, keeping the formation the same (4-2-3-1) and more bizarrely moving Carey into a deeper position and putting Tanner into Carey’s position.
It looks like the killer defeat against Accrington last week has not only deflated the players but also affected the decisions made by Adams, just when we need him to make the right choices as he did in the first half of the season.

Once again fans will quite rightly question McCormick, he was easily beaten from a tight angle for the winning goal and dropped a catch in the second half and nearly resulted in a second goal for Luton, although to be fair McCormick claimed he was fouled and he did pull off a good save later in the game.

Adams gave home debuts to loanees Matt and Houghton with Nardiello left out of the squad because of the maxiumum five loanees in a squad rule.
It meant that Argyle’s defensive midfield was a 20-year old and a 19-year old.

We were the better team for much of the first half without really creating clear cut chances. Carey had two long range shots, left and right footed, that were saved by Mitchell in the Luton goal.

Disaster struck in the 27th minute when Luton took the lead against the run of play. McCourt played a great slide rule pass to Marriot who slotted past McCormick from a tight angle. Marriot looked off-side.

Anxiety now crept down from the terraces, moans and groans didn’t help the players who went off the rails and looked a far different team from the team that surged to the top of League Two.

The second half saw no changes in personnel or formation.

We did look a more determined team although the ref started to take centre stage and penalise us for tackles that in the first half he allowed Luton to get away with.
We were not helped by a linesman who missed two obvious corners for us.

Luton were content to sit deep, soak up the pressure, let us have the ball and just wait for the final mis-placed pass or wasted cross.

Adams made his subs by bringing on Reid and Jervis for the unlucky Matt and the anonymous Houghton but didn’t switch to two strikers.

A Luton corner was cleared to Wylde who raced away with Reid, Tanner and Jervis for company and one covering Luton defender, he chose the wrong pass and Jervis ended up shooting over.

In the 83rd minute McHugh came on into a back three and finally we had two strikers when Jervis moved inside to partner Reid.
It was to no avail as Luton counted down the time with ‘Wycombe’ injuries and we ended up losing a must win game.

Nelson and Hartley were very strong and needed to be with a weak midfield, these two have kept us in games for weeks now.
To be fair Purrington did ok in an unfamiliar role but Houghton was totally anonymous, he was out of his depth.

Wylde was again our best attacking threat and once again unlucky to be subbed.

Matt did very well, holding the ball up, laying it off and working hard for the team.

Threlkeld did a good job at right back and was full of energy.

Carey had his best game for a while but it’s him we need for the killer final ball and he didn’t deliver.

It’s the final third of the pitch where it all fell down, either not enough players in the box or a poor or wasted final ball.

Adams’ decisions let us down today. Time to regroup.

Man of the match: Hartley.

McCormick 4, Threlkeld 7, Nelson 7, Hartley 8, Sawyer 7, Houghton 3, Purrington 6, Carey 7, Tanner 5, Wylde 6, Matt 7. Subs Reid 5, Jervis 5, McHugh 6.