Argyle 1 – 2 AFC Wimbledon
Griffiths 89. Harrison 13, Yussuff 90.
Cole 6, Berry 6 (Lennox 6), Purse 5, Nelson 5, Williams 5, MacDonald 7, Young 4, Hourihane 4 (Chadwick 6), Bhasera 5 (Madjo 7), Cowan-Hall 5, Griffiths 5.
Subs not used: Gilmartin, Richards, Gurrieri, Lecointe.
Lacklustre, desperate, frustrating and worrying are the words to describe yet another home defeat, the third in a season that is barely into October.
The record at ‘sand castle’ Home Park now stands at three defeats, two draws and just one win.
Carl Fletcher wasn’t helped when the injury jinx struck again with Maxime Blanchard, Warren Feeney and Ross Jenkins all missing but it was a huge disappointment to see Guy Madjo on the bench. That can only mean two things – either he is not extending his loan or he is carrying an injury. It surely can’t be a tactical move?
The absentees meant the team had a lightweight midfield and an inexperienced strike partnership of Rhys Griffiths and Paris Cowan-Hall who are both in their first season of professional football.
AFC Wimbledon arrived at Home Park without a manager and collecting just four points from the last nine games – surely a home banker for Argyle?
Referee Keith Stroud issued a yellow card to Dons defender Mambo in the first minute and this set the tone for the rest of the game. The ref got his card out damn quick; Stroud was the ref who dismissed Nick Chadwick in the pre-season game against Yeovil.
The Dons were allowed the freedom of Home Park with Young and Hourihane failing to challenge, close down or tackle. This meant the Dons midfielder could sit in the centre-circle and dictate play and were easily the better team in the early stages.
Sure enough the Wimbledon goal arrived and it was well worked goal down Argyle’s left that was finished by Byron Harrison just two yards out. A soft goal to concede.
Robbie Williams had Argyle’s best chance but his free-kick was well saved by Seb Brown.
At the 30-minute mark Fletcher recognised the danger and moved Alex Macdonald from a wide position into the middle to help close down the space and Cowan-Hall left his striker duties and filled in for MacDonald on the right.
This tactical move stemmed the Wimbledon attacks but left Argyle with just one striker for a home game, yet again.
With Griffiths now isolated the passing game disappeared and long and hopeful kicks were aimed in his general direction.
It was a surprise to see no changes at half-time, surely Madjo deserved to come on and shake things up. The only change was the officials changing from the red shirts to yellow so they didn’t clash with the red of Wimbledon.
MacDonald remained in centre midfield and Argyle did start the half well but it was all too brief and the team returned to their huff and puff style.
Finally Madjo entered the game at the expense of the anonymous Bhasera and suddenly the team had different options and a striker willing to run the channels.
The Dons defence weathered the Madjo storm and looked to test the hesitant Argyle defence.
Fletch made two more substitutions with Durrell Berry and Hourihane making way for Chadwick and Joe Lennox. We then had the bizarre line-up of MacDonald at right-back, just Young in midfield, three burly strikers and two wingers!
With time running out Madjo was fouled in the penalty area by Mambo and Griffiths grabbed the ball but his weak penalty was saved by Brown; don’t worry because Griffiths had the awareness to follow in and he tapped in the rebound to draw his team level.
Argyle kept the gung-ho formation and went for the winner, however, with most players playing as attackers Wimbledon waltzed through and the effort from Rashi Yussuff took a deflection and gave his team the winner right at the death.
A sickening blow for Argyle but did we really deserve a point let alone three from this game? Should Fletch have shut up shop after getting the equaliser, pull his players back to defend and settle for a point?
A frustrating game when we know the players can play so much better than this. The passing game disappeared and the tactic was to lump it long to Griffiths who really struggled against the excellent Mambo.
Bhasera is so often Argyle’s best attacking threat but he was anonymous today.
The team started with an inexperienced front two, a lightweight midfield and two centre-backs who struggled, although to be fair to Nelson it’s his first start of the season in that position.
Poor old MacDonald must be dizzy after playing in three different positions.
The bizarre formation at the end of the game had MacDonald at right-back, Young as the only centre midfielder, two wingers and three big strikers. #kitchensink. Desperate times.
Worrying and frustrating but let’s forget this one and move on.
Man of the match: MacDonald.
Argyle Fail Again At Home
Argyle 1 – 2 AFC Wimbledon