Sunday, 23 September 2007

Not Good Enough

Stoke City 3 (Seip (og) 9, Lawrence 65, Fuler 73) - 2 Plymouth Argyle (Seip 50, Fallon 58)

stoke city crest"The lads worked 'arrrrrd" is something that Tony Pulis would normally trot out after a defeat, however this time it was Ian Holloway who borrowed that infamous quote. Once again Argyle went up north and lost 3-2. Holloway was reported he would field the same team as that against QPR, however he made several changes, not least relegating Barry Hayles and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to the bench. Overall Argyle probably deserved to win, but the game once again was marred by the same mistakes and weaknesses.

The first goal came about through the changes by which players should no longer take it upon themselves to stop play but let the referee deal with injured players, subsequently McCormick received the ball and cleared it up field, however the referee then awarded two successive free kicks to Stoke and on trying to defend them, Seip put the ball into his own net. The first half continued with Argyle missing chances and free kicks and went into the break with the deficit.

The second half got off to a flyer with Argyle going 2-1 up. The equaliser thanks to Seip, eager to avenge his mistake, followed by Fallon. And there it should have ended, Argyle were playing the better football and making all the moves. But it wasn't to be - the defensive problem reared its ugly head yet again, coupled with McCormick continued stupid mistakes. Stoke equalised when McCormick came for a long ball and missed, leaving Lawrence to put the ball away. This put Stoke on the up and Argyle lost control. Holloway made some later changes and eventually brought on Blake and Hayles, but the defence left large holes for Fuller to walk through and score - however it is questionable if this was an offside goal, but the officials disagreed. Argyle then lost all wind in their sails and Stoke strolled home with the 3 points.

Historically Stoke is very bad hunting ground, however QPR proves that is immaterial. We have gone on so long with the same problems in defence and learnt nothing. Additionally Holloway's 'pledge' to replace the keeper when he makes more than 2 mistakes is worthless with Romain's loan. Where do we go from here? Nowhere probably - it's clear that we are not good enough for promotion and (hopefully) not bad enough for relegation, so yet another season of mid table obscurity if things continue. And that will prove one season too many or some.

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