Match report for Fleetwood Town vs Plymouth Argyle on 10 Mar 18
MOSES Makasi's goal on his full EFL debut was not enough to continue Argyle's six-match winning run at Fleetwood.
Despite Argyle's phenomenal start, in which Moses' goal was the one Argyle's commandment of the game deserved, the home side rallied, and had plenty of chances to equalise before Paddy Madden did so early in the second period.
Each side then had periods of pressure in seeking a winner, but no clear chance emerged, and the points were shared.
Former Argyle manager John Sheridan, in only his second game in charge, did not play former Pilgrim Toumani Diagouraga, but did start ex-Home Park loanee Gethin Jones at left-back.
Argyle were without former Fleetwood man Antoni Sarcevic with a groin injury and Sonny Bradley because of illness, so giving Makasi a chance to start for the first time, while Yann Songo'o slotted into the back four.
After eight-and-a-half minutes of almost constant, relentless Argyle pressure, Fleetwood broke away, and really ought to have opened the scoring. Paddy Madden got to a ball before Songo'o on the halfway line, flicked it past the Argyle defender and set off. As Zak Vyner came across to cover - he had no other option - he left two Fleetwood players unmarked and through on goal. Ashley Hunter picked up the ball, dawdled just enough to let Graham Carey get back to close him down, then scuffed his shot. The ball ricocheted around the area, was blocked by Vyner, then cleared.
Until then, Argyle had looked every inch was Fleetwood were probably worried they would be. A two-week break seemed not to have taken the edge off of one of the division's two form teams, with the Pilgrims threatening several times in the opening exchanges to translate February's 100% record into an early lead at Highbury.
As it was, Argyle were reduced to a couple of balls into the box that Fleetwood cleared, and a pair of David Fox efforts that were hardly the cultured midfielder's Sunday best.
Fleetwood's big chance gave them confidence, with Kyle Dempsey shooting wide, and Hunter dragging another wide. Their early jitters seemed to have gone, and they looked more set to make Argyle work.
And then Argyle scored.
The goal was Fleetwood-based, in origin. After stopping an initial Argyle attack, the home side casually gave the ball away, to Ryan Taylor. Taylor fed Ruben Lameiras, who turned quickly to find the driving run of Moses Makasi.
Makasi, his EFL career at this stage a shade over half-an-hour old, showed exceptional composure to take the ball in, then open his body up to curl, left-footed, past Alex Cairns. It was a slick, well-taken goal that epitomised Argyle performance to that point, and was fully deserved.
Both teams were playing their preset roles to this stage. Argyle looked confident and fluent, befitting a team on such a run. Lameiras might have done better from a low Threlkeld cross quickly after the goal, then a gorgeous move down the left involving Gary Sawyer, Fox, Lameiras and Jamie Ness led to Graham Carey hitting one straight at Cairns.
Fleetwood, with as poor a recent record as anyone in the division, would show glimpses of promise going forward, two or three times finding Argyle dreadfully exposed for numbers at the back, but poor decision making or finishing usually let them down, as their disgruntled fanbase seemed quick to point out.
For all their fluent attacking play, Argyle looked oddly vulnerable at times, and Conor McAleny became the latest Fleetwood culprit to be profligate in front of goal. Lewis Coyle, who had earlier been penalised for one of those 'either a great tackle or a red card' incidents (and got booked), laid a cross on a plate for the arriving McAleny, but his cross was high over Remi Matthews' crossbar.
When McAleny did get it right, a few minutes later, and curled a shot on target from about 10 yards, Matthews' made a superb diving save away to his left to deny the equaliser that was looking increasingly likely.
The opening 90 seconds of the second half was a microcosm of the entire first period. Argyle created a chance following a staggering number of short, instant passes that bamboozled Fleetwood, and ended with a sweet exchange between Carey and Taylor that the former just could not quite steer past Cairns.
However, with Argyle pushed up, the Fleetwood goalkeeper launched an outstanding throw that caught Argyle on the hop, but the attack petered out despite a numerical advantage.
Fleetwood did find an equaliser, though, ten minutes into the second half, as Hunter cut in on his right foot down the left flank, and crossed to the far post. It looked as though Songo'o would have the cross covered, but he seemed to react to a shout behind him, and leaving the ball for Madden to slot home unmarked.
Argyle looked like they make have created a break when pressure made Fleetwood give the ball away, but although Ness did well to nick the ball, his early ball forward - which was cut out - betrayed the fact that something was not enabling him to charge forward as he would typically do.
Minutes later, he was replaced by Lionel Ainsworth, with Carey dropping into Ness' midfield position.
Fleetwood screamed for a penalty when McAleny got behind Argyle, then crossed into Songo'o. The ball probably did strike Yann's arm, but it was by his side. A spot kick would have been very harsh on Argyle.
Aaron Taylor-Sinclair replaced Sawyer with 20 minutes to go, and the game very much in the balance, and both sides trying to win it.
Half-chances were the order of the day, though, with both sides having strong spells, but blocked crosses and cut-out corners were the best either could muster.
Adams sent Joel Grant on for the ailing Makasi with five minutes to go, in a show of intent, but it was Carey who had Argyle's best chance, driving a 20-yarder on target and seeing Cairns make a super stop.
Fleetwood had another shout for a penalty, this time for a handball by Taylor-Sinclair, that looked to have a little more validity. It, too, was waved away.
And so Argyle's winning run came to an end in the first ever draw between these two sides. In the end, all things considered, both sides would likely offer a claim that they deserved all the points, but secretly would be happy with one.
Fleetwood Town (4-4-2): 21 Alex Cairns; 2 Lewis Coyle, 6 Nathan Pond (capt), 5 Ashley Eastham, 19 Gethin Jones; 8 Kyle Dempsey, 18 George Glendon (27 Harrison Biggins 81), 28 Jack Sowerby, 22 Ashley Hunter; 17 Paddy Madden (9 Wes Burns 90), 10 Conor McAleny (7 Jordi Hiwula 90). Substitutes (not used): 1 Chris Neal (gk), 11 Bobby Grant, 13 Joe Maguire, 16 Toumani Diagouraga..
Booked: Coyle 24.
Argyle (4-3-3): 34 Remi Matthews; 18 Oscar Threlkeld, 22 Zak Vyner, 4 Yann Songo'o, 3 Gary Sawyer (capt) (17 Aaron Taylor-Sinclair 70); 14 Moses Makasi (16 Joel Grant 87), 24 David Fox, 6 Jamie Ness (8 Lionel Ainsworth 65); 10 Graham Carey, 19 Ryan Taylor, 11 Ruben Lameiras. Substitutes (not used): 25 Kyle Letheren (gk), 27 Alex Fletcher, 32 Ryan Law, 33 Cameron Sangster.
Booked: Fox 59.
Referee: Darren Handley.
Attendance: 3,079 (605 away)..