Sunday, May 31, 2009

Reserves v Swansea 21/04/09

Argyle (4-4-2):1 Lloyd Saxton; 2 Ryan Leonard, 5 Ben Gerring, 6 Mathias Doumbe, 3 Damien McCrory; 7 Chris Clark, 4 Brian McCaul, 8 Luke Summerfield, 11 Craig Noone (16 Liam Head 81); 9 Rory Fallon (13 George Donnelly 62), 10 Roudolphe Douala (15 Joe Mason 73).

Substitutes (not used): 12 Oliver Chenoweth, 14 Ryan Brett.

Swansea (4-4-2): 1 David Cornell; 2 Matthew Collins, 5 Jamie Grimes, 6 Kieran Howard (16 Adam Orme 84), 3 Daniel Sheehan (12 Matthew Wright 66); 7 Chris Jones, 4 Kyle Graves, 8 Dion Chambers, 11 Kerry Morgan; 9 Joe Harris, 10 Jazz Richards.

Substitutes (not used): 13 Rhys Wilson, 14 Steven Berry, 15 Anthony Finselbach.

Referee: Andy Bennett (Devon).


What better way to fritter away a beautifully warm sunny Tuesday afternoon?

The game got off to a cracking start. Lots of pace, verve and purpose to both teams ~ so much so in fact you might have mistaken it for an FA cup tie. No shots on goal though or chances of any kind until an overly ambitious crossfield ball was intercepted by McCaul who slipped the ball to Noone. Noone went down the right flank and crossed when he approached the penalty area. The cross was inch perfect and evaded the rather small 'keeper Cornell and there was Fallon ghosting in at the back stick to side-foot a volley sweetly into the net from close range. He couldn't've missed really.

It was at this point that I noticed that Doumbé, listed as #6 on the teamsheet but wearing #4, and McCaul seemed to have the wrong shirts on. Never mind. So engrossed was I by this that I wasn't paying enough attention to be sure what happened next but looked up to see the ball arrowing towards the Swansea net's postage stamp, possibly from a Noone shot, and their goalie getting a hand to the ball whilst airborne and horizontal. Great save and just about the only one I recall from the entire afternoon. Moments later P&C arrived.
Noonie scuffed the corner to the near post and then got a second go. Again he scuffed the corner (it's odd how a badly struck corner so often causes confusion) allowing Swansea to clear the ball back to him. Noonie cut inside and fired in a shot which was saved easily by the goalie. OK... so there was 2 saves.

Swansea then had an attack down their left wing and Ryan Leonard at RB rather clumsily bundled the troublesome Kerry Morgan over for a clear penalty. Chris Jones (#7) took the pen and sent Saxton the wrong way but the penalty was coolly slotted and I don't think he'd have had an earthly had he gone the right way.

Douala and Noone then combined a couple of times. Douala looked quick as he belted down the right wing and got a cross over towards Noone but a defender cleared. Shortly afterwards Noone played the ball of the match with a raking pass hammered low and hard from a deep defensive position. It was perfect for Douala, beyond the last man, to run onto but Douala's first touch was shocking. Noone's pass deserved far better ~ Hoddle could have played it no more brilliantly.

Clark then set up our second goal with a cross that Fallon rose powerfully and majestically to power into the net with a fantastic header that gave Cornell no chance whatsoever. Two great goals for Fallon.

Swansea's Fellaini lookylikey Dion Chambers then turned up in our box and helped Kerry Morgan to show good close control and no little skill as he turned and fired in a powerful shot for an equaliser. 2-2. 3 great goals in the 4 scored so far.
There was still time for Doumbé to exhibit hitherto unsuspected skill and ambition as he made a Beckenbaueresque run through the centre. He was clearly looking for a teammate to make a run off him but they did not so he let fly left-footed with as sweet a strike as you could wish for but sadly saw his shot charged down.

The second half started and there was again plenty of competitveness and endeavour but precious little action until a simply brilliant little back-heeled flick from Douala set Noonie through with the defence flatfooted. Noonie shot low past Cornell. 3-2.

The highlight of the game followed soon after. Noone picked the ball up on the left and dinked a ball towards Fallon's noggin. Fallon, with back to goal, took the pace off the ball with a beautiful cushioned header which went around the corner to Douala who ran onto the ball and thrashed a volley into the net from 20 yards or so. If it is on AW watch it. 4-2. 6 goals and 5 of them brilliantly taken.

The result was now in no doubt and Fallon went off and George Donnelly came on. A channel ball, one of few played all afternoon, caught Swansea asleep. Donnelly, who had no marker and was well clear, ran onto the ball and slotted the ball away with his first touch of the ball. He must have been on the pitch for about 5 seconds when he scored.

The impressive Morgan then broke in from the left wing leaving Leonard in his wake despite having a couple of tugs at his shirt. Doumbé stopped him at the clear expense of a free kick on the edge of the box. RB Matthew Collins stepped forward to take it and curled a beautiful shot onto the crossbar with Saxton well beaten not that anybody would have stopped it had it been a tad lower.

Summerfield then showed a lovely bit of skill in midfield (think Gazza v Scotland doing Hendry ~ sort of) before releasing Noone. Noone played in to Douala, Douala laid it back to Summerfield who had intelligently followed play but his shot was nowhere near as clinical as the build up.
Collins then rattled the crossbar again with another free-kick that deflected off the wall but which had been struck with real power. He was desperately unlucky both times. Saxton again had no chance at all.

Douala went off and Mason came on. Mason looked OK but didn't really have much fall his way except when he missed when he should have done better after being set up by Clark who delayed a pass for an eternity before sending Leonard on the overlap, Leonard's cross was great and Mason will be disappointed with his effort. Maybe it was blocked because Mason wanted a corner but I think he was the only person there who thought it was.

Fellaini, sorry, Chambers then made amends for his good work when he had scored and lost a ball carelessly in midfield. It fell perfectly to Donnelly and George wasted no time in making it 6-2. An easy goal but a good finish.

That was pretty much it except for a rather blatant elbow that crocked Noone from #7 Chris Jones. Noone went off soon after allowing the beanpole that is Liam Head to come on and show us the two slowest step-overs you could ever see. I don't think he will ever be a crowd fave somehow and looks exactly the sort of player that will attract much criticism.

That was that. 6-2 and wonderful entertainment for the ecstatic throng that had gathered to watch.

Who did well? Everybody really. Saxton had very little to do. Leonard had a tough time that I do not think he would have enjoyed much (apparently he was sent off for punching his man in the away game and funnily enough had a hand heavily strapped during this one. McCrory was steady and competent. McCaul looked to get involved and struck me as extremely mature for his years ~ I think we might have a gem there. Gerring was untroubled and did well. Doumbé always looks more than comfortable at this level and must be pleased to be playing CB for once; that comment about Beckenbauer earlier was not a dig at him at all. Clark tucked in nicely but I have seen him be more influential but his pass to Leonard was bettered only by Noone's to Douala. Fallon scored twice and set up another. Douala scored a blinder and looked threatening every time the ball went near him. Noone would have been my MotM and was constantly involved. Mason and Head weren't on for long enough to say much about them and Donnelly scored 2 coming off the bench and got a couple of hopeful headers in too ~ what more could he have done?

How good were Swansea? Their team was on the young side but seemed more mature than recent reserve opponents. The muscular Joe Harris looked like a good shout for the future as a target man; Kerry Morgan was always a threat; Collins obviously takes a wicked free kick. Argyle were relatively callow this time too with Leonard, McCrory, McCaul, Gerring, Summerfield, Noone, Donnelly, Mason and Head all being youngsters too. If we can keep them and bring them on then the future looks to have plenty of promise.


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