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Kick off 15:00 (UK)

01 May 2021 Venue Home Park Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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English Football League - League One

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Match Previews

PREVIEW: Argyle vs Sunderland

30 April 2021

The Pilgrims are back at Home Park for the final time of the 2020/21 season, as they take on Sky Bet League One promotion contenders Sunderland on Saturday afternoon.

Lee Johnson’s men looked set for a late charge for automatic promotion, but a run of seven games without victory has seen that challenge peter out. However, the Black Cats still sit fourth in Sky Bet League One, and look well-placed to achieve a play-off place.

In their last outing, Sunderland fell narrowly short to a 1-0 defeat against fellow high-flyers Blackpool at the Stadium of Light, a scoreline that replicated the two sides’ meeting at Bloomfield Road just ten days earlier.

Following a goalless 45 minutes, with neither team creating any clear-cut chances, the first and only goal came in the 56th minute when Sullay Kaikai pounced on a partially cleared corner to volley home from the edge of the box.

On their last trip away from Wearside, Sunderland let twice at promoted Hull City, only to have to settle for a 2-2 draw.

Jordan Jones gave the Black Cats the lead on 10 minutes, before Josh Magennis levelled with a header midway through the first half. Sunderland went ahead again through a Grant Leadbitter penalty on 34 minutes, but Magennis’ second goal just after the hour was enough to see the points shared.

In our reverse league fixture at the Stadium of Light back in January, the Greens triumphed 2-1 to collect their first away win of the season.

The Pilgrims went ahead on 11 minutes as Liverpool loanee Adam Lewis secured his first goal for Argyle on his full debut, and the Greens kept the advantage at the break.

Aiden O’Brien put the sides level just after the break, heading home a cross from former Pilgrim Callum McFadzean, but skipper Joe Edwards brilliantly curled a left-foot effort into the net to seal the win for the Pilgrims just minutes later.

Like many sides at the end of a congested and truncated league campaign, Sunderland have a number of injury doubts ahead of Saturday’s tie.
Conor McLaughlin has been absent for the Black Cats for five games but could make a return on Saturday. Former Argyle loanee Tom Flanagan has also been absent for around six weeks and is unlikely to be available.

Jordan Willis will not be available as he is expected to be out of action for nine to 12 months with a knee injury, while Wolves loanee defender Dion Sanderson has also been ruled out for the rest of the campaign.

For Argyle, Sam Woods is likely to be sidelined with a hamstring strain, while Lewis and Will Aimson are both battling ankle problems. Midfielder Conor Grant has returned to training, and may be in contention for a return.

The managers said:

Ryan Lowe: “We’re mathematically safe in this division for next season, which was always the aim, [but] I want to finish higher than where we are now.

“It might be an opportunity for one or two of the youngsters to showcase their abilities as well. I want to make sure we can put on a show, we want to go out with a bang. We’ve had two losses on the bounce, we want to pick up straight away and go out with two wins on the bounce if we possibly can.”

Lee Johnson: “We’re still confident that we can end the season successfully. I’m partly anxious and partly very excited about the prospect of the play-offs – any anxiety is because it’s not secured yet, and we have to use Saturday to make sure we do that.

“My short-term concern is high; my long-term concern is zero. I’m very confident that if we secure the play-offs and then have that time to rest and work, we’ll come out of the traps like a greyhound. The big rallying call can come after we’ve secured that place, and I will always fancy us. We have to focus on Plymouth and secure our place in the top six.”


The record: P 13 W 6 D 3 L 4 F 16 A 17

The first time: 24 October 1959. Division Two. Argyle 0 Sunderland 0

The last time: 3 November, 2018. Sky Bet League One. Argyle 0 Sunderland 2

Derek Adams’ third from bottom Argyle held their own in a goalless first half against their third in the table opponents. However, a second half brace from Aiden McGeady, the second from the penalty spot, proved to be the difference between the teams.

Biggest win: Dave Kemp’s spell as Argyle boss kicked off in style with a 3-0 win over Sunderland on Saturday, March 3rd, 1990 in Division 2. Tommy Tynan gave us the lead after 31 minutes and Sean McCarthy doubled our advantage eight minutes later. Tynan grabbed his second and our third on 73 minutes.

Most goals in a single game: Six, in a 4-2 win for Sunderland over Dave Smith’s Greens in October 1986, in Division Two.

Former Blyth Spartans forward Dave Buchanan gave the visitors a 2-0 lead after just 15 minutes. Kevin Hodges (51 minutes) and Tommy Tynan (59) brought us level. Unfortunately, late goals from Gordon Armstrong (79) and Paul Lemon (87) gave Lawrie McMenemy’s men the three points.

Saturday's fixture kicks off at 3pm, and is available to stream live, and worldwide, on iFollow Argyle. Click here to purchase your pass.

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Match Reports

REPORT: Argyle 1 Sunderland 3

1 May 2021

Argyle 1 
Edwards 63 

Sunderland 3 
Stewart 21 
Maguire pen 84 
Hume 90 

Argyle completed their home campaign in the Sky Bet League One season with a 3-1 defeat to Sunderland and a tale of two penalties, one given, one waved away, and both decisions dubious. 

The Greens were denied a strong shout for a foul on Joe Edwards with 20 minutes on the clock and Sunderland were in front seconds later, with Ross Stewart finishing neatly from a tight angle. Edwards restored parity on the hour but the Pilgrim cause was almost instantly damaged by Jerome Opoku seeing red for two bookable offences. 

The Pilgrims stayed resolute until six minutes from time, when Ryan Law committed a foul two yards outside the box and yet, bizarrely, the Black Cats were awarded a penalty, dispatched by substitute Chris Maguire. Denver Hume rubbed late salt in the wound with a third in stoppage time. 

Argyle manager Ryan Lowe made three changes from the loss at Oxford United last weekend, bringing in Kelland Watts, Conor Grant and Ryan Hardie for Byron Moore, Sam Woods and Luke Jephcott. The Pilgrim bench included Academy scholar Finley Craske. 

Sunderland boss Lee Johnson made four changes from the 1-0 defeat to Blackpool, replacing Grant Leadbitter, Aiden McGeady, Aiden O’Brien and Charlie Wyke with Stewart, Jordan Jones, Jack Diamond and Conor McLaughlin. 

Law and Tyrese Fornah both got started with strong tackles to thwart Sunderland in dangerous areas, while a deflected shot from Jones was safely gobbled up by goalkeeper Mike Cooper. Argyle’s attacking instincts began to flow with great feet from Panutche Camara and a teasing Law cross was taken on the bounce by visiting custodian Lee Burge 

Brilliant work from Niall Ennis then conjured room for Hardie, who attempted a quick shot with his left foot but it lacked the venom to trouble Burge. The Greens continued their confident start with clever work between Danny Mayor and Camara allowing Edwards to make a dart in the right channel, a dart stopped by a lunge from Hume and a genuine penalty shout ignored by the referee. 

Moments later, the decision had a double impact, as a hooked ball down the line from McLaughlin found Stewart for a clear run into the box, and he slid a cool finish beyond the advancing Cooper to find the far corner. 

Argyle responded with great strength from Law leading to a clipped cross by Hardie and when the visitors failed to clear, Ennis took a swipe at the ball but was unable to make the proper connection from a good position. 

A strong foot by Opoku repelled a threat from Lynden Gooch and the same Black Cat next unleashed a fierce drive from 22 yards, prompting an excellent save from Cooper to parry clear. Sunderland then attempted a clever corner routine, laying the ball to the edge of the box for Max Power to stroke his side-footer narrowly wide. 

Argyle ended the half with a barrage of crosses and the final delivery from Camara found Mayor for a drilled low half-volley, expertly saved by Burge, followed by a Gooch effort clipping the outside of the post after a swift counter. 

A booking for Lowe at half-time possibly confirmed the manager’s understandable frustration that the penalty claim for Edwards was waved away. Argyle settled into their second-half work with some quality passing across midfield and good play on the fringes of the Sunderland penalty area, without seriously penetrating the visiting defence to create a genuine chance. 

The probing continued down the left and Grant dinked over a lovely cross for the run of newly-named Player of the Season Edwards to nod home a deserved equaliser for the Pilgrims. Klaidi Lolos came on for Hardie in the aftermath but Argyle’s improving mood immediately took a downturn with a red card for Opoku. 

Maguire almost made it worse with a curled effort against the bar from the subsequent free-kick, as the Greens filled an Opoku-shaped hole at the back with youngster Ollie Tomlinson making his league debut. 

Tomlinson slotted in beautifully to head clear a dangerous cross, although it was the bar that saved Argyle when Stewart nodded a fine effort from Jones’s cross, quickly followed by a super save from Cooper denying Maguire.  

The Black Cats naturally tried to make their numerical advantage count but the Greens were standing strong in their protection job, with Camara and Fornah both helping out to quell problems in the box, only for the visitors were then rewarded an extremely soft penalty. 

There was no doubt Law had fouled Gooch but the contact was 100% outside the box, and the decision only made after consultation with an assistant referee, who was surely close enough to have a clear picture of the incident.  

It was very harsh on Law but no arguments with the actual spot-kick, confidently rifled into the top corner by Maguire. Lowe then removed Fornah for Ben Reeves and Cooper was replaced by Luke McCormick to give a Pilgrim legend the final five minutes of Argyle’s home campaign. 

McCormick quickly rolled back the years with a super save and was very unlucky to see the rebound fall perfectly for Hume to steer an easy finish into the empty net. 

It was an unwarranted final outcome for Argyle but we all look forward to a new season, hopefully inside a Home Park packed with our magnificent Green Army.   

Argyle (4-4-2): 1 Mike Cooper (23 Luke McCormick 85); 8 Joe Edwards (capt)24 Jerome Opoku, 2 Kelland Watts, 27 Ryan Law; 28 Panutche Camara (14 Ben Reeves 85)18 Tyrese Fornah, 15 Conor Grant, 10 Danny Mayor; 9 Ryan Hardie (19 Klaidi Lolos 64), 21 Niall Ennis (41 Ollie Tomlinson 68)Substitutes (not used): 17 Byron Moore, 31 Luke Jephcott, 36 Finley Craske. 

Booked: Camara 42, Law 49, Opoku 54 

Sent-off: Opoku 64 

Sunderland (4-4-2): 1 Lee Burge; 2 Conor McLaughlin (26 Carl Winchester H-T), 5 Bailey Wright, 13 Luke O'Nien, 33 Denver Hume; 21 Jack Diamond (7 Chris Maguire 65)6 Max Power (capt), 14 Josh Scowen (23 Grant Leadbitter 88), 27 Jordan Jones; 11 Lynden Gooch, 31 Ross Stewart (10 Aiden O'Brien 88)Substitutes (not used): 20 Remi Matthews (gk), 25 Callum McFadzean, 35 Ollie Younger. 


Referee: James Bell 

Attendance: N/A 

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