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Match Report


Posted Sat 15 Aug 09 at 17:33 PM


Argyle 1
Gorkss (og) 90

Helguson 43

IN football, you can discuss players, managers, signing and formations all you like. Sometimes, you need a little bit of luck.

Argyle certainly got that against a dogged QPR side who took a deserved lead through Heidar Helguson just before half time and kept it until deep into injury time, when Argyle scrambled home a desperate equaliser.

Both these teams opened their seasons with 1-1 draws and repeated the dose today, but you would think that the visiting manager will be the more frustrated of the two with not picking up all three points.

Rangers were clearly the better side during the opening half, and deservedly went in front when Helguson reacted well to a deflected shot to nod in past a helpless Romain Larrieu.

Argyle bucked their ideas up in the second period, and although Larrieu was responsible for keeping them in it, the home side had the bulk of the pressure. It took a long time to break down a stubborn Hoops resistance, though.

When the goal did come, it may have been off of Rory Fallon, Jamie Mackie or a host of panicked R's defenders. What mattered was it came at all, and it preserved Argyle's unbeaten run to the season. It may seem a flimsy claim, but it is nonetheless true.

Argyle's starting line-up contained just one change from the previous week's creditable draw at Crystal Palace, with Republic of Ireland U-21 international Alan Judge replacing midweek goalscorer Luke Summerfield, who dropped to substitute.

Joining him on the bench (a bench situated about twenty yards nearer the Barn Park end than in previous years) was one of Judge's international cohorts and new arrival Cillian Sheridan.

The most notable name on the visitors' teamsheet was Hungarian International Akos Buzsaky, erstwhile of PL2 but now plying his trade in Shephards Bush.

The R's drew 1-1 against the new outfit of former Pilgrim and Ranger Ian Holloway last Saturday, and made just two changes for their trip to Home Park. Angelo Balanta and injured talisman Martin Rowlands made way for Buzsaky and Michele Leigertwood, both of whom played ninety minutes in midweek in a visit to Exeter. We won't mention the score but it resembled a TV Cop show set in Hawaii.

The Pilgrims appeared to be going with their new 4-2-3-1 formation, and it was Jamie Mackie, starting the game wide on the left of this setup, who had the first shy at goal. After Fallon nodded a high cross against a Rangers defender, the former Exeter man shot tamely over.

Shortly after this, Argyle had the ball in the net, after Fallon looped a header wide of R's keeper Radek Cerny, but he was rightly flagged offside.

The early pressure continued. Fallon nodded on into space behind the Rangers backline, but the diminutive Judge was unable to meet the high bounce off of the Home Park surface.

The first real QPR threat came after ten minutes. The second of two successive corners ended with Peter Ramage finding the Devonport End as opposed to the goal or its environs.

First fears of Buzsaky returning to haunt his old club surfaced around the quarter hour. A Carl Fletcher challenge which would have hailed twenty years ago but nowadays gets punished meant the Hungarian had a chance to try his hand a curling free kick which had Romain Larrieu scrambling to his right.

After a Wayne Routledge sighter which may have looked close in the Mayflower but wild to the Lyndhurst, Argyle forced a corner which Radek Cerny, decidedly edgily, punched away. QPR was inching back into the game.

Another Buzsaky dead ball effort went harmlessly over on twenty five minutes, but shortly after it was a corner kick from which Argyle got a scared. The centre was cleared only as far as Routledge, scorer of a hat-trick in midweek, hit a twenty-yarder low and hard. Fortunately Larrieu was up to the task getting down well to prevent the former Tottenham and Palace man opening the scoring.

Argyle for their opening promise, were firmly on the back foot. Le Keeper had to be alert once more soon after. After Argyle indecision in the middle of the park, summer signing Abel Taarabt created his own opening, played a wall pass with Buzsaky, and attempted, unsuccessfully, to chip the onrushing Larrieu.

Shortly before half time, though, even Romain could do nothing as QPR took a lead they indisputably deserved.

Rangers took a quick free-kick - given for a dubious handball against Rory Fallon - and neatly worked the ball down the left. Taarabt engineered space to hit a curling effort which deflected away from Larrieu and the goal - but into the path of Heider Helguson, who reacted sharply to nod home. It was a body blow to the Greens and their Army, but it was hard to begrudge Jim Magilton's side their lead.

Half time came and Luggy clearly sensed Argyle's lack of first half momentum, choosing to replace Steve MacLean with Cillian Sheridan. The change facilitated a change of formation, with the new man - no stranger to playing in green and white and plotting the downfall of those in white and blue - lining up to the left of Rory Fallon in a 4-3-3 arrangement. Jamie Mackie switched to occupy the position on Rory's right hand.

The switch showed an initial change of spirit as well as shape. Sheridan had a snapshot blocked, a corner ended with a dubious foul given for a Mackie jump at Cerny, although evidence pointed to Cerny simply flapping, and a Judge free-kick went harmlessly over.

Cerny once more looked ill-at-ease as a harmless ball over the top suddenly saw the Czech stopper a yard outside his area and Fallon bearing down. He improvised with a header which cannoned off Kaspar Gorkss, and the ball eventually being shepherded to safety.

It was Rangers, though, that came a whisker from doubling their winning margin. Routledge cut inside and found Taarabt, who spun to crash a first-time shot which looked to most in the ground like it had found the top corner. Fortunately for Argyle fans who covered their eyes in fear, when they removed them the ball had dropped down on the outside of the goal. Supporters in the away end could be seen intensely inspecting the net for football-sized gaps.

Argyle responded brightly, forcing three quick corners, delivered well by Judge and then Paterson, all of which found the six yard box, but were manoeuvred to safety in a variety of ways, not all of them comfortably.

Sheridan was next to get in on the action. On first glance the Celtic loanee, as Luggy might say, 'looks a player', and he nearly marked his Home Park debut with a goal within twenty minutes of his introduction. From the tightest of angles and from a difficult height, he flashed a left-footed effort wide of the far post, but not by much.

Referee Roger East had had a quiet game, but had the spotlight shone briefly upon him midway through the second half. QPR felt they deserved a free kick when McNamee stopped Taarabt, but none was forthcoming. Argyle broke swiftly, and after good work by Paterson and Mackie, the former picked out Rory Fallon. The big Kiwi, unmarked, saw his header drift wide. The official saw a deflection and gave a corner, but Argyle players were incensed. They felt the deflection came from a hand. Mr East did not.

QPR withdraw Buzsaky and the very impressive Taarab to allow Ephraim and Vine to try their luck, and it was Vine who got quickly involved. He teed up Routledge, but the winger's volley was poorly timed.

Argyle were creating a lot of pressure without forcing clear cut chances. Two blocked shots, a penalty shout and a scramble all came in the space of twenty seconds, but a goal did not. The six yard box in front of the Devonport was leading a charmed life.

The Pilgrims made two personnel changes. Noone for the tiring Judge and Duguid for Paterson, leading to another shift in formation. Noone and Mackie now functioned as orthodox wingers outside Fallon and Sheridan as a front two.

However, it was a Hoops sub who impacted next. Rowan Vine, sent clear of all challengers, bore down on Larrieu, but the French custodian saved brilliantly again, with Timar stopping Routledge from following up.

After the fourth official signalled a puzzling five minutes of injury time, Timar of all people played an incisive through ball, but an under-pressure Duguid's shot was saved.

The big Hungarian, last week's goalscorer at Palace, tried desperately to repeat the dose this week. From another corner into the heart of QPR's box he stabbed at goal twice, only to be denied by first Hogan Ephraim and then Gavin Mahon on the line. It was looking like it wouldn't happen.

But then, finally, a ball bobbling around the R's six yard area bounced in Argyle's favour. Here's what we know: Gary Sawyer launched a ball into the danger zone, where Rory Fallon and Jamie Mackie made nuisances of themselves.

Some may say that Fallon got the final touch, some that it was a QPR defender, probably Kaspar Gorkss.

But frankly - to paraphrase commentator Barry Davies at the 1988 Olympics - who cares?ims' comebvack after they had gone behindrims'

Rob McNichol

Argyle (4-5-1) Romain Larrieu; 16 David McNamee, 18 Gary Sawyer, 19 Marcel Seip, 5 Krisztian Timar; 3 Jim Paterson (2 Karl Duguid, 85), 4 Carl Fletcher (Capt), 8 Jamie Mackie, 25 Alan Judge (17 Craig Noone, 82), 9 Steve MacLean (21 Cillian Sheridan, HT); 14 Rory Fallon. Substitutes (not used) 11 Kari Arnason, 20 Luke Summerfield, 22 Reda Johnson, 23 Kyle Letheren (gk).

Booked: Fletcher 90.

QPR (4-4-2) 24 Radek Cerny; 2 Peter Ramage, 5 Fitz Hall, 13 Kaspar Gorkss, 29 Gary Borrowdale; 7 Wayne Routledge, 4 Gavin Mahon (Capt), 6 Michele Leigertwood, 10 Akos Buzsaky (25 Hogan Ephraim, 75); 39 Adel Taarabt (8 Rowan Vine, 71), 9 Heidar Helguson (11 Patrick Agyemang, 60). Substitutes (not used) 3 Damion Stewart, 12 Alessandro Pellicori, 16 Matt Connolly, 22 Tom Heaton (gk)

Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire).

Attendance: 11,558 (998 away).

Today's match sponsors were SITA UK

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