After Tuesday’s convincing victory over Portsmouth in the Capital One Cup Argyle manager Carl Fletcher named an unchanged starting line-up and bench as he went searching for back-to-back wins for the first time since taking up the managerial reigns of the Pilgrims. It was not to be though as the Shots turned up with a clear game plan that worked to perfection.
The visitors took the lead on the five minute mark as Onismor Bhasera gave away a soft free kick on the edge of the Pilgrims area. Up stepped Anthony Tonkin who guided the ball to the back post where it was met by Shots centre-back Troy Brown. It wasn’t the greatest way to begin the league season, that’s for sure.
Argyle picked themselves up and went looking for an immediate equaliser, Nick Chadwick and Andres Gurrieri tried their luck from distance but failed to test Jamie Young in the Aldershot goal. The keeper had to be more alert five minutes later, as he momentarily let slip of another Gurrieri effort. Luckily for him and Aldershot he recovered just in time to pounce on the ball at the feet of the onrushing Matt Lecointe.
Paul Wotton went closest for the Pilgrims from a free kick after Chadwick was fouled on the edge of the box. The club legend’s effort looked to be heading into the bottom corner but agonizingly bounced off the foot of the post and away before Young saved the follow up effort from Johnny Gorman.
Argyle went in at half-time one nil down, but could take confidence from how they played after going behind. Sadly any hope of a comeback was all but extinguished within 10 minutes of the restart.
A challenge made by a combination of Maxime Blanchard and Onismor Bhasera on Michael Rankine was adjudged by referee Simon Hooper to be a penalty offence, despite the fact Rankine was marginally outside the box when the challenge was made and it was a very soft penalty – one of those six of one, half a dozen of another incidents. Up stepped Josh Payne who cooly slotted the penalty home before wheeling away to celebrate in front of the Devonport End, something that seems to be becoming a regular occurrence at Home Park of late.
With the crowd already frustrated at the referee’s lack of control on the game, Aldershot proceeded to waste time at every possible opportunity. I don’t blame them for doing it as the referee allowed them to get away with it rather than stamp down on it straight away.
With the game going flat and long periods of open play few and far between, Fletcher bought on Paris Cowan-Hall and Warren Feeney for Matt Lecointe and Andres Gurrieri to try and find a way back into the match. Cowan-Hall looked very lively when he came on as he teased the Aldershot defence before supplying some good crosses, typically there were no Green shirts in the area to get on the end of them. I would like to see him start against Dagenham on Tuesday as he has seemed really up for it in his two appearances from the bench to date.
The score of 2-0 stayed the same until the final when Simon Hooper finally put us all out of our misery. It was a harsh bump down to earth after the Pompey result and far from the performance we all hoped for on opening day. However it was only the first game and there is a long way to go. We have a good chance to right the wrongs of Saturday at Victoria Road, Dagenham on Tuesday, a ground we have a 100% win record at.
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