Crawley Town 2
Tubbs 5, 61
by RICK COWDERY
NEW Town; new manager; new opponents; new hope; new ground. Same old rollercoaster.
Two poacher's goals from Matt Tubbs, early in each half, ensured that Carl Fletcher's honeymoon period as Argyle caretaker-manager will probably not last as long as his playing suspension.
For that, Fletcher will be thankful - he can now settle down properly to the considerable task that he has inherited unencumbered by unrealistic expectation.
What he will be less grateful for is the contribution made to his first defeat in charge of the Pilgrims by a former Bournemouth team-mate, who he bigged up in the build-up to the match. With friends like that...
It was difficult to remember Tubbs contributing much else to the game than his two goals. His performance was positively Tynanesque. There can be no greater compliment.
Fletcher had made precisely no changes to the Argyle starting line-up that had completed all but two minutes of the previous week's 2-0 win over Macclesfield Town.
This departure from what had become the tweaking norm of the previous regime was down, in part, to the recovery of midfielder Ladjie Soukouna from a slight ankle problem. It was not broken and did not need fixing, and much the same could be said of the entire line-up.
Crawley manager Steve Evans had also received good news on the injury front concerning on-loan midfielder Andy Drury and six-goal leading scorer Tyrone Barnett and limited himself to one change from the side that had won 1-0 at Aldershot last tiome out.
That came in the Red Devils' three-man engine-room, where Kyle McFadzean bumped Scott Davies to the bench.
McFadzean appeared to have been brought in to perform a man-to-man marking job on Soukouna but was soon in the thick of things in the Argyle penalty area as the Pilgrims' familiar failings from set-pieces returned.
It was Barnett's partner in goal, the nearly equally prolific Tubbs, who seized on McFadzean's goalwards slash following a poorly dealt with long-throw to tuck home the ball from three yards.
The first goal conceded under Fletcher's management was, obviously, a watershed moment,and the question was how Argyle would react to the early blow.
The initial indications were promising, as Curtis Nelson leapt prodigiously to head Conor Hourihane's free-kick just wide, before Robbie Williams nearly provided a million dollar lay-off for Warren Feeney.
Crawley soaked it up before a free header by Tubbs from Drury's cross sparked a home revival that saw Jake Cole tip Barnett's shot around his post, and McFadzean fire over when threateningly positioned at the far post.
Crawley's heat on Argyle receded but, given the conditions, referee Gary Sutton ensured no-one would become too hot and bothered by signalling a cricket-type drinks break after half-an-hour's play. I am sure football has been played in hotter temperatures, even in this country, even in autumn.
Having said that, the unseasonable weather probably played a part in limiting the high-tariff pressing game that had so marked the Pilgrims' first win of the season seven days earlier.Crawley, playing the long-ball percentages, were seemingly less affected.
Tired or not, the same 22 players emerged after the break with argyle attacking the terrace containing a majority of the 868 Pilgrims who comprised well over a quarter of the entire crowd.
The early action was at the other end of the pitch as Cole, who has barely put a foot - or, more accurately and importantly, a hand - wrong recently, tipped a header from Barnett over his crossbar.
Cole then kept out Drury's drive with his knees before watching the Sergio Torres fire the rebound over the target. Over about 10 targets, actually. Must be something to do with the name.
A run by Torres then initiated a bustling move down the middle which ended with Cole completing a hat-trick of impressive second-half stops by beating out another drive from Drury.
Inevitably, the damn could not stand the pressure, and equally inevitably, it was Tubbs who eventually breached it.
Barnett provided the assist, finding Tubbs, unmarked, a few yards from goal for another simple finish. Will Atkinson was so incensed about the goal's legality that he was booked for a lengthy protest.
Tubbs had few cares - if he scored another ten similar goals, the combined yardage would still be short of the distance of Fletcher's Argyle equaliser at Shrewsbury on the first day of the season, but remember the Striker's Creed: it is not how, it is how many.
Fletcher made a switch, bringing on Tom Hitchcock to help out Feeney, and withdrawing Hourihane, and it may not have been mere co-incidence that Argyle immediately enjoyed their most dominant spell of the game with Williams asking goalkeeper Scott Shearer to make a save and Feeney firing across the goal.
Argyle continued to work hard in the lessening heat (although Sutton saw fit for another break for liquid intake) and finished the match in going-for- it mode with Matt Lecointe having come on for Simon King.
Commendable spirit. Lamentable result. Same old rollercoaster.
Crawley Town (4-4-2): 25 Scott Shearer; 13 David Hunt, 26 Tom Eastman, 28 Claude Davis, 19 Scott Griffiths; 8 Sergio Torres, 5 Kyle McFadzean, 15 Dannie Bulman (capt), 27 Andy Drury (2 Scott Davies 73); 9 Matt Tubbs (21 Michael Doughty 88), 23 Tyrone Barnett (17 John Akinde 81). Substitutes (not used): 1 Michel Kuipers (gk), 29 Jon-Paul Pittman.
Booked: Eastman 44, McFadzean 64.
Argyle (4-1-4-1): 23 Jake Cole; 2 Durrell Berry, 6 Curtis Nelson, 5 Simon King (27 Matt Lecointe 85), 3 Robbie Williams; 8 Simon Walton (capt); 7 Luke Daley, 13 Ladjie Soukouna, 20 Conor Hourihane (10 Tom Hitchcock 65), 21 Will Atkinson (22 Jamie Griffiths 80); 11 Warren Feeney. Substitutes (not used): 1 Romain Larrieu (gk), 15 Luke Young.
Booked: Berry 60, Atkinson 61, Walton 79.
Referee: Gary Sutton.
Attendance: 3,175 (868 away).