Fireman Rhys Comes to Argyle’s Rescue
After searching through various Argyle websites and rifting through my own memory I found out for myself. The 23rd November 2010. That was the last time Argyle won a game at Home Park after being behind, it was an npower League One fixture against Dagenham & Redbridge. That record stood, until Saturday.
Despite his return on loan from Burnley being greeted with excitement by most Argyle fans, Alex MacDonald found himself on the bench for this game, alongside 32-year-old Rhys Griffiths who was making his first competitive appearance of any kind for Argyle after turning professional to sign for us in the Summer.
The game kicked-off at a very slow pace with neither side really taking the initiative. Onismor Bhasera and Paris Cowan-Hall both had pop shots that went wide and were saved respectively, before Bhasera nearly headed in at the back post off a Durrell Berry cross.
The visitors, who understandably looked more than happy to soak up the little Argyle pressure after only playing Wolves in the Capital One Cup on Thursday night, then scored with their first attempt on goal.
Quite how Alex Nicholls was allowed the time and space to turn and shoot with his back to goal with three green shirts around him baffles me. The 24-year-old took advantage of the lax marking to swivel and poke home the opener in front of the Devonport end.
Conor Hourihane almost found instant parity for the home side, but his shot from just inside the area flashed just wide of the post. In all honestly he should have buried it. Shortly afterwards Paris Cowan-Hall, who was making good progress down the right flank, had to go off due to injury. On came Alex MacDonald, receiving a warm applause from the Home Park faithful who hoped he could recreate some of the magic they had seen from him last season.
The substitute did not immediately turn the tide though, as Northampton spurned two or three good chances to increase the lead as half time approached.
Standing there at half-time, I could see nothing but a loss for us. We looked short of ideas and I could see the Cobblers scoring again. One point after now four league games seemed to be beckoning.
As the teams re-emerged for the second half, we could clearly see that Fletcher had gone for a change of personal and tactics. Paul Wotton made way for league debutant Rhys Griffiths as Argyle changed from 4-5-1 (never understand why we play this at home anyway) to 4-4-2.
The change, and what was probably said in the changing room, ignited the sleeping Pilgrims.
First Bhasera got on the end of a Griffiths knock down before hammering his shot at Lee Nicholls in the Cobblers goal before the equaliser arrived through the same route. Bhasera again benefited from a Griffiths touch before running towards the box and delivering an inch perfect cross for Warren Feeney to glance across Nicholls and into the far corner. 1-1, and with only two minutes of the second half played and Forza Verde now in full voice it was game on.
Argyle started to pour forward in numbers, and before long they had the lead. Bhasera – who was having the half of his life – played the ball to Feeney who layed it off to Griffiths. The Welshman then found MacDonald in acres of space on the right. He drove towards the box and crossed a ball that always looked like it would cause trouble for the Cobblers. A combination of Warren Feeney and a Northampton defender resulted in the ball rolling loose towards the edge of the box, right into the path of a perfectly placed Griffiths who stroked home.
Sadly though, Griffiths outstanding league bow was to last only 22 minutes as he trudged off with a small injury.
The Pilgrims kept pressing though, and made it three not long after Rhys had departed. Robbie Williams crossed a perfectly flighted ball for stand-in striker Curtis Nelson to nod home. The Cobblers did score again, but Artell’s header deep into injury time was little more than consolation.
None of us saw that second half performance coming. Hopefully we can continue in that vein on Saturday, with a Devon Derby against rivals Torquay United. The 32-year-old Rhys Griffiths was working as a fireman just a few months ago and playing for Llanelli in the Welsh Premier League. He scored 182 goals in 182 appearances for them. On the 22 minute showing we saw on Saturday, what a signing Fletcher could have made here.
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