No Spark at the Park

DEREK Adams was left to rue his side’s lack of firepower after Argyle were held to a goal-less draw by Newport County in Saturday’s second-round Emirates FA Cup tie at Home Park.

Despite having the bulk of possession against opposition reduced to ten men after 20 minutes when Sean Rigg was sent off, Argyle were unable to find a way through the Exiles’ defence and now face a replay in South Wales on Tuesday, December 13.

“It wasn’t easy, with Newport going down to ten players and defending very well,” Derek told the BBC after the stalemate. “We didn’t work their goalkeeper enough because they negated the space.

“For the first 15-20 minutes, we did really well. I thought it was going to be a good performance. Then the sending-off probably helps them – they become two banks of four and one up front, and close the space down. We had a lot of the ball but were just unable to find the opportunity to get the goals.

“I thought we probably played better when it was 11 against 11, than when it was against 10 against 11. They stopped the space. We didn't play as free-flowing as we did when we had 11 against 11.

“We didn’t pass the ball quick enough and we became very direct at times, and haven’t been able to get the finish.”

Argyle’s best opportunity to break the deadlock came in first-half-stoppage time, when man-of-the-match Oscar Threlkeld headed Jake Jervis’s deep cross into the path of Connor Smith.

“He should have scored,” said Derek. “The ball came into the box from a cross and it went through somebody’s legs and came to him very quickly. But it was about two yards out and he should have put it in the back of the net.”

In search of the breakthrough, Derek sent on second-year professional Louis Rooney and 17-year-old Academy striker Alex Fletcher.

Derek said: “The two of them have done well in the youth team over previous years and Alex is still an apprentice, so it was good for him to get his debut.”

Rigg was sent off when he lunged at Jake, and Derek had no doubt it was a deserved dismissal. “It was a straight red,” he said. “It was out of control and he’s gone at speed, a clear sending-off.”

Argyle face a home match against new Sky Bet League Two leaders Doncaster Rovers next Saturday before journeying across the Severn Bridge to see who will continue in the cup.

Derek knows more is required from his Pilgrims if they are to progress. “We’ll have to do a lot better than we did today,” he said.