ITEN Fly-By: Crewe Reviewed, Plymouth Previewed
As the games start to come thick and fast for Rovers, we’ve decided to take stock at the start of another busy week in League One, looking back at Saturday’s defeat against Crewe and ahead to tomorrow night’s trip to Plymouth all in one in the first edition of ITEN Fly-By.
Crewe Take Rovers Off the Rails
Darren Moore saw his side fall to their first home defeat of the season this past weekend when they fell 2-1 at home to newly promoted Crewe Alexandra, but it was a game he rightly felt the home side could have won if things had fallen differently in several key moments of what was a challenging match.
Whilst Rovers can rue a late shout for a penalty denied for what looked like a clear handball by a defender blocking a shot by Ben Whiteman, they have only themselves to blame for being behind at that late stage of the game. Fejiri Okenabirhie put a great chance over the bar in the second half and also couldn’t get enough on a superb Reece James cross to turn it home, although that was a more difficult opportunity, and overall Rovers found it difficult to find a creative spark throughout the game.
Our editor spoke to Gabriel at the start of the League One portion of The EFL Fans Show on Saturday night, which can be seen in the video above.
The weather also played its part, but Crewe scored two superb goals - Charlie Kirk firing home from a tight angle in the first half before Harry Pickering curled a glorious free kick in for the winner from the edge of the area, and the Railwaymen earned the points through a combination of good football and increasing gamesmanship after getting back in front.
However you view it, Crewe did a number on Rovers and deserved the win for doing so. The nature of this season being what it is however, Rovers have a chance to put it right quickly and get back on track when they make the long trip down to Devon to face Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday night.
Argyle Search for Consistency
Ryan Lowe has got his Plymouth team off to a good start in League One after promotion last season but they are in need of consistency, having gone through fluctuating results in the opening half a dozen games of the 2020/21 campaign. Whilst the Pilgrims did beat Blackpool on the opening day, they also fell to defeat at Hull and Lincoln and had to come from behind to draw 4-4 with unfancied Wimbledon last month in a remarkable match.
They did get a point at Wigan on Saturday - which is one more than Rovers managed at the DW Stadium - and are looking good at Home Park with three wins and a draw from their first four games, but they are by no means unbeatable and Darren Moore will surely be drumming that into his players ahead of the game between the two sides this week.
Conor Grant made a hot start to the season for Plymouth before suffering an injury.
Former Rovers loanee Conor Grant made a great start to the campaign with two fine goals in the early weeks but has been missing through injury for the last couple of games, but Lowe has stuck with his patented 3-5-2 formation and that may cause problems for Rovers, especially if Plymouth can get the ball into forwards Ryan Hardie and Luke Jephcott with regularity. The guile of midfielder Danny Mayor - who Lowe had at his disposal in their days together at Bury - will also be a threat for Argyle that Rovers need to be wary of.
Darren Moore is likely to make more changes for this game to keep his squad ticking over, which could mean a return to the starting line-up for James Coppinger after a couple of games out of the first XI. A big question mark hangs over Jon Taylor after he was withdrawn in the opening minutes of the Crewe game with a knee injury, making it the third time in recent weeks that Rovers have lost a winger to injury in a game.
One of those wide players is now back however, and it is Jason Lokilo who figures to start in Taylor’s place on the South Coast if the Liverpudlian fails to regain full fitness in time.