Argyle 1 – Leicester 1
Noone 39. Arnason og 32.
A spirited performance from Argyle, including 13 attempts on-goal, deserved all three points but in the end a draw still leaves the Greens five points away from relegation safety.
Argyle’s season-long tale of defensive mistakes and individual errors struck again today when Kari Arnason scored a spectacular own goal but superb displays from the two Johnson’s (Reda and Damien) and goal scorer Craig Noone rescued the match for the Pilgrims.
Argyle Head Coach Paul Mariner made one change from the midweek game against Swansea City by dropping Luke Summerfield to the bench and recalling Craig Noone to the starting line-up and what a difference the winger made! Striker Bradley Wright-Phillips was MIA again.
Paul Gallagher returned to Home Park for the first time since his loan move to Argyle last season and was used a right-midfielder for Leicester City.
Argyle were pinned in their own half for the first five minutes of the contest and were struggling to even get a touch of the ball as Leicester controlled the possession.
Time and time again the Foxes were caught off-side as the Argyle defence pushed up whenever a ball was played through.
The pitch looked in a really poor state, even just from the players warming up before the game, will it last the match?
Reda Johnson, the six-foot four-inch tall centre-back, had Argyle’s first chance of the game when he advanced forward; he played a neat one-two off Rory Fallon’s head and suddenly found himself at the edge of the Leicester penalty area – nose bleed time. He pulled the trigger but his shot flew well wide of Chris Weale’s post.
The referee Roger East then gives a strange yellow card to Kari Arnason for using a towel to dry the ball before taking a throw-on. Bizarre, against Swansea on Tuesday Arnason used the towel throughout the match! Warning- jobsworth alert!
Argyle were now getting into the game with Noone causing all sorts of problems for the Leicester defence, no-one could stop Noone!
A 25-yard free-kick from Carl Fletcher was blocked but the ball fell kindly to Noone who put in a low cross across the six-yard box and there was Rory Fallon at the far post, he took aim but mis-fired and Wayne Brown cleared the weak shot off the line to keep the Foxes in the game. Fallon really should have scored from that distance.
Lloyd Dyer, Leicester’s greyhound upfront, chased a hopeful punt upfield and found himself clear and through on-goal, his shot beat David Stockdale but luckily for Argyle it hit the post and the excellent Karl Duguid was on hand to clear the danger.
A close call for both sides at each end.
Then followed a blatent foul on Noone, I say foul, it was more like Grevious Bodily Harm, was ignored by referee Mr Jobsworth who waved play on, the ball was cleared by Leicester down Argyle’s left-side and there was Arnason to tidy up, you’d think, except he didn’t look up to see where Stockdale was and his back pass from the corner of the penalty area flew past the stranded Argyle keeper and into the net to give the Foxes a gift of a 1-0 lead.
A disaster for Argyle, just when they looked the better side.
For the next few minutes Arnason looked like a midfielder playing as a centre-back as nerves and lack of confidence got the better of him.
However, it is to Argyle’s credit and determination that they levelled the game soon after gifting Leicester the lead. Jamie Mackie chased a long ball down the channel as he always does, he laid the ball back to Chris Clark and his excellent cross to the far post was met by the smallest player on the pitch in Craig Noone who thumped in a header from eight yards out. A great goal, that’s how you do it Rory!
The pitch now looked a shambles and you felt sorry for the two sets of players.
There was just enough time before the break for another now traditional mistake in the Argyle defence, this time it was Reda Johnson, he gave the ball away to Gallagher but his shot sailed wide.
Honours deservedly even at the break.
It was Leicester who started brighter when the second half began, a cross from Gallagher was met by Leicester’s 4-foot tall, 6-foot wide striker Martyn Waghorn but his close range shot went wide of Stockdale’s post.
It was Waghorn again for Leicester soon after but his 18-yard shot suffered the same fate as his earlier effort.
The lively Noone supplied a deep cross for Fallon but the Big Kiwi couldn’t stretch his neck muscles enough to divert the ball on target.
Surprisingly it was Joe Mason, and not Kenny Cooper, who replaced Fallon in attack.
It was now Argyle who looked the better of the two sides with Noone Argyle’s main attacking weapon. From a Arnason long throw Reda Johnson headed the ball towards goal and there was Mason but his header went inches past the post.
Leicester still felt they could win the game and nearly did when a Gallagher cross found Bruno Berner but thankfully he headed wide when he really should have scored.
Cooper then finally came on for Clark with Mason switching to the right side of midfield.
Argyle were now increasing the pressure in what was one of their best attacking displays this season, a Noone free-kick dropped to Mason who shot from 18-yards out, his effort was tipped onto the crossbar by Weale and was cleared for a corner, Argyle were so unlucky.
It was now all Argyle as they desperately searched for the win. A Fletcher shot was cleared by Jack Hobbs and then came the last chance of the game. A long throw from the towel-less Arnason found Cooper, he tried to head the ball over Weale who managed to get a finger tip on it, the ball fell to Fletcher but his goal-bound shot was blocked.
An exciting end to an entertaining game. Argyle didn’t play that well against Swansea but put in a great performance against Leicester and yet ended up with the same result, a point from each game.
To remain unbeaten against two of the teams aiming for promotion is all well and good, however, we are desperate for points and we really needed to beat Leicester and deserved the three points.
Craig Noone made all the difference and it’s no coincidence that Argyle’s goal threat and shots on-target increased with him in the team. Not only did Noone torment the Leicester defenders he also popped up with a superb headed goal.
Reda Johnson seems to be playing centre-back on his own, it’s worrying that Arnason is making a lot of mistakes during matches, his error today cost Argyle a goal and the three points.
Damien Johnson had a good match, he’s a terrier in midfield and looks to be an excellent signing.
The front two of Mackie and Fallon were way off the pace; Fallon should have buried one chance while he rarely won and headers against the Leicester defenders. It’s time for a rethink on Argyle’s strike force.
The two full-backs, Chris Barker and Karl Duguid, rarely offered anything going forward, there were several instances where Noone or Clark needed an over lapping full-back but had to take on two defenders on their own. Barker and Duguid are obviously playing to instructions and their first job is to defend and Duguid in particular did this very well.
It’s the third game in a row that Argyle have come-back to grab a point or three, that would have been impossible earlier in the season. Five points from nine and a nice little unbeaten run developing but we really need to get some home wins on the board.
Well played, keep it going, keep believing!
Stockdale 7, Duguid 8, Arnason 5, R. Johnson 8, Barker 7, Clark 6 (Cooper 6), Fletcher 7, D. Johnson 8, Noone 9, Mackie 5, Fallon 4 (Mason 7).
Subs not used: Larrieu, Sawyer, Judge, Summerfield, Bolasie.
Unlucky Argyle Settle For Point
Argyle 1 – Leicester 1