League Two promotion favourites Plymouth Argyle slumped to their third defeat of the season on Saturday as unfancied Port Vale ran out 1-0 winners at Vale Park.
The game appeared to be heading for a drab 0-0 draw until Nathan Smith popped up to head home Richie Bennett’s cross on seventy-six minutes.
The disappointing loss leaves Ryan Lowe’s men without a win in three games, and some of the feelgood factor apparent after his summer arrival from Bury is on the wain.
The Pilgrims now sit eleventh in the early League Two table, and some Argyle fans are concerned at defensive frailties within the team. Lowe is well-known for his attacking style after leading an attractive Shakers side to second in League Two last season, but he appears to have transferred the defensive weaknesses apparent in his Bury side down to Devon.
Bury often got out of jail last season by way of out-scoring their opponents, but after Danny Mayor and Byron Moore went close with good chances, Argyle drew their second blank of the season and left Lowe angry at the defeat.
Speaking to Plymouth Live after the match, a frustrated Lowe was critical of his sides defending from the set-piece which led to the goal but promised he would get it right. He said: ‘You can’t just get done on a quick free-kick and then lose your man from the cross. It’s just not good enough – it’s not acceptable neither.’
‘The man (Bennett) takes a swing, hooks it in and we lose our man. It’s not good enough, not acceptable.’
‘But, listen, I’m responsible for it. I pick the lads; I pick the team, I will take the criticism, but we will make sure we get it right.’
It was a view shared by many Pilgrims supporters when they took to social media to react to the result, and some didn’t hold back in questioning Lowes tactics and team selection.
Here is a small sample of Argyle fans reaction to the result on Twitter.
Shocking, any chance of sorting that defence out, why are we still playing Canavan when we have Aimson on the bench, sorry but our defence again has let us down
— Andrew (@rockape7852) September 14, 2019
Our CB’s were poor last season and continue to be this season. They’ve had a fair opportunity to show they’ve improved and they clearly haven’t. Need to start Aimson next week. Possession means nothing if we can’t keep a clean sheet. #pafc #greenarmy
— Tristan James (@tristanj1980) September 14, 2019
— Edward (@ChefEdwardWatts) September 14, 2019
Shocking. It’s time for Mr Lowe to bang some heads together in that changing room. Need Aimson in that back 3 straight away #pafc
— Robert Smith (@Robert1979Smith) September 14, 2019
That was our problem last season. Everyone knew it we couldn't defend. Was just a good job we scored alot. Rode our luck alot when we didn't concede.
— BuryTilOneDies (@BuryTil) September 14, 2019
— Dan Capel (@dancapel18) September 14, 2019
— Steve Wotsa (@WotsaWonder) September 14, 2019
We can play attacking football and good attacking players, but we need to be able to defend.
— Alisha (@AlishaDigby1) September 14, 2019
Set piece/cross again? Shock.
— Mainline Mussy (@mainlinemussy) September 14, 2019
If only we had a manager that knew how to grind us out of div 4……
— Ken Adams (@kenadams777) September 14, 2019