It is a sign of the times when at half-time of Plymouth Argyle’s home game against AFC Wimbledon two fans of different opinions got into such a heated debate they seem destined to settle it with the use of fists.
After a dismal first-half performance, Argyle were booed by sections of the crowd as the whistle went. A man just to the left of me a few rows turned around and shouted at the fans that had vocally shown their displeasure. “You’re not supporters! How is that helping?!” He questioned the group. It was inevitable he would get a reply from someone and when he did he turned his attention solely onto that one fan in a verbal attack, although he got as good as he gave straight back. While I could see both their points it is worrying that this is what the Green Army have been reduced to. We stood together as the side slipped down the football league, we got behind the team when all seemed lost and we fought against the administrators that nearly killed our club, but just one year on and cracks are starting to appear in a fan-base that has recently been praised all over the country for its loyalty.
Carl Fletcher has not really had the whole of the fan-base on his side since the start of pre-season. There were moans and groans about the teams performances and signings even back when we were playing friendlies, and it seems since then that week by week more supporters are turning to the ‘Fletcher Out’ persuasion.
Recent performances have been positive; before this game a run of four games unbeaten included three draws that for the most part, could have been victories had we taken our chances. So in brief our performances have been pleasing those who still back Fletcher, but not the results. Both, against a poor AFC Wimbledon side, were unacceptable however.
We had barely had a decent spell in possession of the ball before Byron Harrison ghosted in at the back post to give the managerless Dons a 13 minute lead. The slick, passing football that we had been treated to in the last few games was absent as we reverted to route one football that we simply do not have the players with the physical presence to pull off. We struggled against Wimbledon’s big back line whilst the visitors looked dangerous when they ventured into our half.
The grim half-time argument that I talked about was only stopped by our resident drummer starting a chant to drown out the volley of abuse being traded back and forth.
The second half was better from Argyle, but not by any great leap of the imagination. Chances came at a premium and when Conor Hourihane’s top-corner-bound effort was fantastically saved by the Dons keeper Seb Brown, it seemed we were heading for defeat before the referee – who had a terrible afternoon – decided to hand Argyle a woeful penalty decision that even the most Green Tinted of Argyle fans would say was never a spot kick.
If the decision to award the penalty was terrible, Rhys Griffiths attempt at putting it away was borderline abysmal. Low, weak and at the perfect height for the keeper, he was lucky that Brown fumbled it back into his path to tuck away the rebound.
The ground erupted more in relief than joy at the last gasp equaliser, but it was cruelly to be Wimbledon who went home with all three points as Rashid Yussuff scored a freak goal to give the Dons the victory. Quite frankly it was a win they deserved, Argyle had done nowhere near enough to warrant a point.
Now only three points separate us from the relegation zone, and after the Barnet game next Saturday – which has turned into a must win game – we face 10 of the current top 12 teams in the table in our next dozen games. With tension rising in the stands, and victories not coming on the pitch, this season could yet become enough one of pain for Argyle.
All we wanted was mid-table.
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