ANDY Kellett made his Argyle debut against AFC Wimbledon, so we took a closer look at the Bolton Wanderers loanee as he took the Kingsmeadow turf.Kellett was an unused substitute for Argyle’s 1-0 victory over Carlisle United, but was the beneficiary of a slight reshuffle on Tuesday evening. Due to Lee Cox’s injury. Anthony O’Connor – deployed at right wing-back in recent weeks – moved into a holding midfield role, allowing Kelvin Mellor to move over to his more natural right side. Kellett, in turn, got his chance to come in on the left flank.
The Pilgrims’ recent good run of form using the 3-5-2 system would have encouraged John Sheridan to stick with it, and it also lends an opportunity for the Wanderers loanee to show what he can do in a position very comfortable to him. O’Connor’s defensive capabilities in the heart of the pitch provided further scope for Andy – and Kelvin – to forge forward. In arguably the Greens’ best performance of last season, a 4-0 win away at Fleetwood Town, it had been as a similar story; Paul Wotton occupied a very deep central midfield role, giving license to wing-backs Durrell Berry and Matt Parsons to stretch their legs and wreak havoc to the hosts.
So, would it be more of the same at Kingsmeadow?
The left-back’s touches in opening exchanges were mostly restricted to taking throw-ins, but he certainly spent more time in the opposition’s half than his own. After twenty minutes, though, Kellett created a decent opportunity for his team. Hugging the touchline, his agility caused three Wimbledon players to be sucked in towards the ball. Clever interplay with Reuben Reid culminated in the ball reaching Mellor on the opposite flank, who laid off O’Connor to drill a shot wide. Kellett also played a clever through ball later on that would’ve sent Reid through on goal, but the striker’s tussle with his marker prevented the chance.
He was comfortable with the ball at feet, not afraid to turn back and pick out other options than the most obvious one, finding teammates with a good range of passing. When Argyle would be working down the right-hand side, Kellett stayed aware and was always an open player if the ball was able to be switched to his flank quickly. This would also allow him to, at times, come into a more central position. With five minutes to go until the break Kellett dropped into the middle whilst a throw in was being taken on the right. As the ball fell to him, he immediately looked to make a killer pass, and set through Bobby Reid. Whilst the chance came to nothing, Argyle continued to press, and Kellett’s surging run into the box was disrupted by a questionable challenge, but referee Mr Horwood waved away the penalty claims.
The youngster didn’t forget about his defensive duties, either. Towards the end of the first half, a Wimbledon attack was quelled by Kellett, as he dispossessed George Francomb, took on and beat another player, and earned a free-kick to kill the pressure his side were under. As the Pilgrims grew in to the match throughout the first half, so did Kellett, getting into progressively better positions and clocking up the mileage in physically demanding position.
The Greens’ first attack of the second half went through the debutant, as both wing-backs once again got involved. Mellor cleverly switched the ball to Kellett who cut inside and beat two defenders, but a lack of faith in his right foot forced him to try and work an intricate through ball, which did not quite come off.
Kellett often found himself further forward than all three central midfielders when his side were in possession, with left-sided centre back Peter Hartley coming out very wide to fill in the gap. Link-up play with Lewis Alessandra and Dominic Blizzard was frequent, and when the three of them could create those triangles of passes, the hosts struggled to keep Argyle at bay. He was also one of the two designated to stay back when Argyle would win a corner, meaning all three centre backs could make themselves a nuisance in the penalty area.
Despite making his first ever professional start at the Cherry Red Records stadium, Kellett certainly didn’t lack confidence. He regularly took on and beat the likes of Francomb and Andy Frampton down the sideline, floating in a number of crosses or going himself. With five minutes left in the game, the loanee latched on to a short pass from Blizzard and turned it into a major opportunity, jinking into the box past many men in blue, but could only toe-poke the ball over.