FINE margins seem to be costing Argyle right now, and manager Derek Adams believes their 1-0 defeat to Coventry City could have been different story if some key moments went their way.
The Pilgrims find themselves with just one point to their name from their opening three Sky Bet League One games of the season, despite not conceding from open play and leading on two occasions. At the Ricoh Arena, things once again looked positive as the half time interval loomed, but that all changed when a penalty was given for Graham Carey’s challenge on Brandon Mason.
Amadou Bakayoko slotted home the spot-kick, and just as the Greens had regained composure and control of the match, Jamie Ness received a second booking and headed to the dressing room. Whether it is being on the wrong end of decisions or committing individual errors, it is moments like those that are holding Derek’s side back right now.
“It was a difficult afternoon for us,” said Adams. “Obviously we’ve conceded another penalty kick, and we get a sending off.
“I didn’t see Coventry troubling us this afternoon. I thought that defensively we looked sound. Coventry huffed and puffed [but were] never going to play through us.
“Second half, we were better – down to 10 players than probably when we were with 11 players. But I didn’t think that Coventry were going to do much today.
“Not really much in the game today, between both sides. It was quite a slow pace to the match; I didn’t think there was much tempo to it. From that point of view, [if] we go in at 0-0, we’re quite happy.”
The Pilgrims were unable to take that draw into the break, but still threatened heavily in the second half, pushing back the home side and creating opportunities. Even with the disadvantage in numbers, Adams shuffled the pack to squeeze more creativity from his depleted team.
“We changed formation. We went from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1,” said Derek, “with Ruben playing off the front. We just wanted to get a bit more support to Freddie, and that did happen to a certain extent.
“We took Joel off and put Freddie out wide. We put him and Ryan Taylor together, just to give us an opportunity in the game. There was some good play at times.
“We put balls forward. They looked nervous; they were dropping deeper and deeper. Did they trouble us? I don’t know when they troubled us; probably in the last stages of the game, when we were going forward.
“I think that the shape of the team has been good in stages of the game. Today, it was probably later on in the game that we became creative and caused them problems.”
The boss opted to stick with the same side that defeated Bristol City in the Carabao cup four days previous, trusting the form book and leaving himself with eye-catching options on the bench. Adams thought the side handled themselves well, until the sending off left them punching from underneath.
“I’m in a lose-lose situation here,” said Derek. “If I had made changes in the team today and lost, it’s: ‘Why did you change him? Why did you change him?’
“It’s difficult for me, because they played really well the other night, and played with a great discipline. We did that in spells in today’s game, but we’re a squad, and we’ve got ones who can come off the bench as well, and we had that today.
“It’s very difficult for them, after going down to ten players for so long. They’ve done really well on Tuesday night, and today, another team don’t score from open play.
“Did our goalkeeper have many saves? Did their goalkeeper have many saves? The answer’s no. A draw would’ve been fair, and we’ve given away a penalty kick today – that’s our third in three league games. We’re down to 10 players, and in any league that’s difficult.”