Date: 30th March 2017 at 9:07am
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Argyle’s recent switch to a zonal marking system when defending corners has been a complete success!

The Greens are yet to concede a goal from an opposition corner since changing to the zonal system in early February when Exeter City visited Home Park.

Since arriving at Home Park in the summer of 2015 manager Derek Adams has always used a man-marking system when defending corners, however midway through this season the man-marking system was identified as Argyle’s Achilles heel with the team regularly conceding goals at corners.

In seven games at the start of 2017 Argyle conceded five goals from opposition corners when using the man-marking system – Barnet, Cheltenham, Liverpool and Yeovil (twice) all scored from a corner when playing Argyle.

Adams used the mid-season warm weather training camp in Spain in the week leading up to the Exeter game to change tactics and try the zonal system when defending corners and since then it has worked perfectly.
In the 11 games since using the zonal system the Pilgrims’ have faced 60 opposition corners and are yet to concede a goal.

The new zonal tactic when defending corners, which has largely gone unnoticed, involves the back four standing in a line on the edge of the six yard box with no opposition player near them, sometimes Ryan Taylor or Yann Songo’o, if they are in the team, will replace one or two of the defenders in the zonal system but the principle remains the same.
Three players will be on duty on the edge of the penalty area, two will be stationed on each goal post and the final outfield player will be at the near post in anticipation of a near post corner.
The object of the zonal system is to protect the space and not be impeded by opposition players when attacking the ball, which so often happens on flag kicks.

It’s a credit to Adams and defensive coach Paul Wotton that they were prepared to change tactics two-thirds through a successful season and further highlights the importance of the work done at the mid-season training camp because it would have taken many hours on the training pitch, firstly in Spain and then in Plymouth, to fine tune the zonal system.

Some Argyle supporters have shown concern that the team do not leave an attacking player up the pitch when defending corners but equally the same concern was shown when Argyle were regularly conceding goals from corners at an alarming rate so something had to change and since no goals have been conceded in the last 11 games when defending corners it proves Adams was right to switch to a zonal system and use all 11 players to defend.