Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Live Blog: Ipswich Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 2 - Full time

Argyle have done it! The Greens secure a fine victory, scoring two good goals and keeping a clean sheet. "The great escape is still on" says Nigel. Yes it is Nige, yes it is.

Man of the Match - David Stockdale - made a string of brilliant saves at 1-0 to set the platform for the victory.

Plaudits should also go to BWP, Mackie, Bolasie, N'Gala and, well, the whole ruddy lot of them!

Blackpool have beaten Swansea 5-1. Bring 'em on!

Live Blog: Ipswich Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 2 - 92 mins

Argyle are going for a third here, with Joe Mason twice going close. Bolasie almost set him up on the second occasion - that man just keeps on running.

One minute of injury time left. Palace are two down against Forest.

Live Blog: Ipswich Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 2 - 89 mins

Every Argyle player is putting 100% in at Portman Road, with Judge and Bolasie making great sliding challenges. John Walters attempts, but fails, with an overhead kick. He's no Wright-Phillips, as Drew points out.

Ipswich have a free kick 30 yards from goal. Garvan smashes the ball into the wall, before Chris Clark dispossesses Healy to make the clearance.

One minute plus injury time left. Four or five minutes of stoppage time?

Live Blog: Ipswich Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 2 - 85 mins

Ipswich are winning a succession of throw-ins deep in Argyle territory, but the Pilgrims are holding strong at the back. Nigel loves the Greens' workrate.

David Healy has a chance at the back post, but the Northern Ireland striker is denied by yet another outstanding Stockdale stop. Moments later the loanee 'keeper is down injured, having hurt his knee whilst plucking a cross out of the air. The home fans aren't too impressed, the away fans just keep singing.

Stockdale looks okay to continue. Five plus stoppage time left to go.

Live Blog: Ipswich Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 2 - Goal - 78 mins

Argyle have a second!

Brilliant work from Mackie, setting up Mason to roll the ball past Murphy's despairing dive! Raucous celebrations from the players on the pitch and the fans in the away end.

Eleven minutes left. The next five are vital...

Live Blog: Ipswich Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 1 - 70 mins

More changes - Joe Mason on for Wright-Phillips for Argyle, David Healy replaces Pablo Counago for the home side. Another impressive showing from BWP, if only he hadn't got injured in pre-season.

No, Nigel, no! He thinks Argyle are looking pretty comfortable at the back. Don't say it Nige!

Ipswich win a free kick in an attacking position, which Leadbitter lines up. It's a fine strike, and Stockdale makes another brilliant diving save.

Nigel likes Mackie's workrate, which has again been outstanding. I think he might be a Wolves fan, he keeps mentioning that they're beating West Ham.

Alan Judge dribbles round four players before losing control and watching the ball roll out for a goalkick.

Live Blog: Ipswich Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 1 - 70 mins

Bad news - Scunny are four up and Argyle are starting to drop deep. The Greens still look good on the counter though, with Mackie and Bolasie causing plenty of headaches for the Tractor Boys defence. A brilliant cross from Chris Clark finds Bolasie, whose bullet header is stopped by Brian Murphy.

Oh dear - Barks is injured. Mariner hauls him straight off, with Judge coming on in his place. Clark (the footballing swiss army knife, according to Drew) drops back to left full-back. Still, Judgey will be another one for the Ipswich defence to think about.

Nigel reckons Sawyer is out for the season, so lets hope Bhasera gets his paper work sorted pronto.

Live Blog: Ipswich Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 1 - 63 mins

Argyle win a free kick, but Murphy makes a good catch at the back post.

Palace are a goal and man down at Forest.

Yala Bolasie drifts past two Ipswich challenge before firing a shot into the side-netting. The ref saw a deflection and awards the visitors a corner, which comes to nothing. Drew likes Bolasie - he's gone straight into his all-time top-five PAFC players to watch.

Roy Keane makes a double change, Garvan and Leadbitter are on for Carlos Edwards and David Norris. Cheers Chuck.

Nigel is pleased to see Argyle maintaining a high defensive line. You and me both Nigel, you and me both. A high line won't solve the defensive weakness on the left though - a ball from that flank finds Daryl Murphy, who is denied by another great save from Stockdale.

Live Blog: Ipswich Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 1 - 55 mins

After a relatively quiet first half, Jamie Mackie is starting to come into this game. The former Exeter man fires a shot just wide of the post from the edge of the penalty area. Mariner gives him the thumbs up for that one.

Moments later Ipswich are on the attack, Stockdale fumbling a long-range effort from Pablo Counago. The Fulham 'keeper more than makes amends a couple of minutes later, however, stopping what looks a certain equaliser from McCauley with a great save.

The game is so wide open that there must be a second goal. It's vital that Argyle get it.

Live Blog: Ipswich Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 1 - 50 mins

"You can go swimming" - That's one of the good things about Devon, listed on the Radio Devon trail. I mean...really...

Anywho, we're back underway at Portman Road. The home side take the aerial route from the kick off, but Bondz N'Gala makes a couple of headed clearances. A long throw is then allowed to Bounce in the Pilgrims' box, but David Stockdale gathers the ball.

It's not all Ipswich, however. Bolasie tries his luck from 35-yards, but his effort is so far off-target that Paul Mariner checks his glasses. Jamie Mackie then chases down a long ball and forces a corner, which Brian Murphy claims.

Live Blog: Ipswich Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 1 - 45 mins

Ipswich have the ball in the net, but the flag's up. N'Gala's error allowed a ball straight through the centre of the Greens defence - Paul Mariner doesn't look too chuffed on the halfway line.

Still, Argyle continue to look dangerous going forwards, as a hacked Ipswich clearance flies behind for a corner. Brian Murphy flaps at Bolasie's delivery, but his defenders scramble the ball clear. The home fans are less than chuffed.

Scunthorpe are 3-0 ahead now. The Greens need to win this one.

Gosh, is that the time? The ref blows to end the half and Argyle take a 1-0 lead into the break. Well done BWP, well done Yala, well done everybody else.

Live Blog: Ipswich Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 1 - 40 mins

BWP's goal was timed at 35 minutes.

Now, the big question - can Argyle hold onto this lead for more than five minutes?

The big answer - yes. In fact, the Greens continue to threaten in attack, with Yala Bolasie causing plenty of mayhem down on the wing. Sign that contract, Yala.

Duguid appears to concede a corner, but the ref awards Argyle a goalkick. Super.

Live Blog: Ipswich Town 0 Plymouth Argyle 1 - Goal!

Argyle lead at Portman Road!

David Norris, of all people, gives the ball away to Bolasie. The Argyle winger finds Wright-Phillips, who rifles his header past Brian Murphy to send the travelling Greens wild. A deserved goal for the striker, who has been the visitors' stand-out player, and his side who have matched Ipswich in the first half an hour.

That's the first goal that Ipswich have conceded at Portman Road in 2010.

Live Blog: Ipswich Town vs Plymouth Argyle - 30 mins

Bondz N'Gala is a "powerfully-thighed individual" according to Drew. Nigel is impressed with the West Ham loanee. Stockdale provides some amusement for the crowd with a wayward goalkick - Nigel points out that one of the reasons the Fulham man is picked ahead of Romain is his supposedly superior kicking. Drew sounds more keen on Stockdale than Sparksy.

Moments later the Ipswich fans are on their feet, as Gareth McCauley heads narrowly off-target. A close shave, that one. Argyle respond in the right fashion, however, winning a corner and a free kick in an attacking position. Both are cleared.

Live Blog: Ipswich Town vs Plymouth Argyle - 25 mins

Argyle break out of defence after a sustained period of Ipswich pressure, BWP forcing Brian Murphy into a fine save. Bolasie takes the first Plymouth corner of the game, which is easily cleared by Ipswich. Perhaps someone else should take those...Johnson? Clark?

Drew is concerned that it sounds like it's just Nigel and himself at Portman Road. The FX microphone is working - the home fans are just a bit quiet.

Pablo Counago turns Reda Johnson and blasts a shot over the bar. N'Gala gives his new partner a ticking off for that one.

Ipswich win another corner, which the Greens clear. Scunthorpe are now two up at Peterborough - oh dear.

Live Blog: Ipswich Town vs Plymouth Argyle - 18 mins

Damien Johnson and David Norris - two names we've barely heard so far.

The home side are growing in confidence and starting to pile the pressure on the Pilgrims' creaky defence. A sweeping move on the Argyle right cuts through the Greens defence - luckily Murphy fires his shot into the side-netting.

Scunthorpe are beating Peterborough.

Carlos Edwards and Jack Colback are beginning to pull the strings in midfield for the Tractor Boys, who win another corner. Wright-Phillips clears for the visitors. Nigel is impressed with Colback, who apparently looks like a combination of Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt. If only we knew his hair colour...

Live Blog: Ipswich Town vs Plymouth Argyle - 12 mins

A fine tackle by the patched-up Barker on Murphy gives Ipswich the first corner of the evening, which Argyle clear. Encouragingly for the Greens, Wright-Phillips and Yala Bolasie have resumed their promising relationship on the right side of the pitch. BWP fires off a shot which whistles just wide of the post. Best effort of the night so far.

Argyle's next chance comes from a Chris Barker long-throw; Reda Johnson flicks the ball across the face of goal, but no white shirts are on the spot to muster an effort on goal. Ipswich are also looking dangerous, however, as Murphy smashes an effort just clear of David Stockdale's crossbar.

Live Blog: Ipswich Town vs Plymouth Argyle - 5 mins

Plenty of aerial stuff in the opening exchanges. Ipswich hurl a long-throw into the box, causing some confusion in the Argyle backline - fortunately the ball bounces safely behind off an Ipswich head.

Chris Barker then has to leave the pitch after taking a whack in the mouth. Whilst the veteran left-footer is receiving treatment Plymouth mount their first attack of the evening, as Jamie Mackie is flagged offside from BWP's lofted through-ball. A marginal decision, according to Nigel.

Live Blog: Ipswich Town vs Plymouth Argyle - kick off

Paul Mariner emerges from the tunnel to a great ovation from the home fans, which he acknowledges with a wave.

Drew Savage and Nigel Walrond are our commentary team on Radio Devon. Nigel is worried about Darryl Murphy and the Pilgrim's suspect defence. He also has a pair of binoculars.

Argyle get us underway.

Live Blog: Ipswich Town vs Plymouth Argyle

Let's see how this works...

Two changes for Argyle, N'Gala and Barker replacing the injured Arnason and Eckersley. David Norris starts for Ipswich.

Kick off in a couple of minutes.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Coventry City 1, Plymouth Argyle 1

Saturday March 13th, 3pm

Scorers - Kari Arnason (45+1), Michael McIndoe (49)

The Ricoh Arena - soulless, half-empty and attached to a casino - represents, to me, the very worst of modern football stadia (let's hope phase II, when/if it gets built does not turn Home Park into something similar). Perhaps my dislike of the Ricoh stems from the fact that it was also the site of one of my most depressing afternoons as an Argyle fan, as the Greens' slim play-off hopes withered and died in a miserable fashion one Saturday in March 2008. That experience, in combination with the offer of work on a Saturday and the £10 parking charge in the Ricoh car parks (£10!!), led to my decision not to attend this fixture last season. Inevitably, Argyle won 1-0, with Craig Noone scoring a wonderful late winner. This season, a lesson learned, I checked my wallet for a crisp ten pound note and embarked upon the 45 minute drive to the outskirts of Coventry.

In truth, I had few hopes of seeing a performance any better than the 2008 debacle, after Argyle had slumped to a 2-0 defeat at Loftus Road in midweek. Happily, Paul Mariner's men put in a very creditable performance, full of fight and endeavour, but fell just short of taking the three points so desperately needed.

The first surprise of the afternoon appeared on the teamsheet, with two players making their first starts for the club. Bradley Wright-Phillips finally made his full debut for the side he joined seven months ago, while Yala Bolasie was handed a first start on the right of the Pilgrims midfield. Captain Carl Fletcher was returned to his natural home in the centre of midfield, with Duguid moving to right-back and Chris Barker coming in at centre-back.

Coventry may have come into the game on the back of an impressive run of form, but it was Argyle who made the brighter start to the game, with Mackie, BWP and Bolasie all getting early touches. A great pass by Wright-Phillips played Mackie clean through on goal, but Jamie air-kicked and missed the ball completely. This was at the far end, so there could have been a bobble off the (awful) pitch, but this sort of thing happens far too often when Mackie's one-on-one with the keeper.

Coventry bossed the middle-section of the half, without creating much in the way of clear cut chances. Argyle defended fairly well individually, but there was a lack of communication throughout the backline - Barks headed one behind for a corner because he didn't get a shout in the first half, while Duguid left one with a Blue shirt right behind him in the second. These sort of things are inevitable with the amount of chopping and changing we've had at the back, and two more new faces are unlikely to improve that situation. We picked up again as half time approached and grabbed the lead right on the break, Arnie looping a header over the stranded Westwood from Damien Johnson's free kick.

Arnie's long-throw (which had mixed results) almost gave us a second right after the break, as Barker nodded over the bar. However, within two minutes Coventry were level, a cross from the right going straight through the box for McIndoe to covert at the back post. To be fair, it was a very good delivery - if Arnason or Barker had stuck a leg out they could well have turned the ball into their own net. From that moment on Argyle were the better team and looked the more likely to find a winner. Fletch and Johnson scrapped and harried in the middle, whilst Bolasie caused no end of problems and consistently got the better of his full-back. The Greens' weakness was on the left, where Clark had one of his more difficult afternoons. Things only worsened when Eckersley limped off for Sawyer, who had an absolute 'mare going forward.

Both sides had chances as the game came to a close. Fletch had a goalbound shot blocked from a Bolasie corner, whilst Coventry shot across the face of goal.Things went into overdrive in injury time, with Stockdale making a good save and Bolasie's shot (which was going right into the corner) hitting Mackie square on the back.

It was a decent performance, and a point which at least maintains Argyle's slim hopes of survival. The big plus was Bolasie, who was tremendous throughout and, should the worst happen, will tear up League One next season. Mariner ushered him over to the Green Army at full time where the majority were singing his name. Add that to the chants of 'One Joe Mason' that were heard at Bramall Lane a couple of weeks ago and you get the feeling that after a really tough couple of years we're just starting to find some new heroes.

(This is an amended version of a post that appeared in the 'Brief Synopsis' thread on PASOTI).