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No Place Like Home Park

Plymouth Argyle 1:1 Leicester City

In complete contrast to last Saturday’s demolition of Scunthorpe, City found themselves pleased to get out of Devon with a point and happy to hear the final whistle in this scrappy, turgid encounter.

Nigel Pearson named an unchanged side for a potentially tricky encounter with struggling Argyle and the game wasn’t very old before it became clear that the pitch would be the main talking point of the day; it was truly awful and City were reduced to the long ‘out ball’ over the heads of the midfield to a struggling Waghorn.
It wasn’t pretty and the only chance of note was a shot from Dyer that hit the post following a mazy run; but within two minutes City had the lead following a farcical moment in the Argyle defence. Another long ball was running harmlessly along the flank being watched by Kari Arnason who chose to play the ball back to David Stockdale. Unfortunately for the home side Arnason failed to look up first and then watched in horror as his back pass sailed in to an unguarded net past Stockdale who had come to meet the anticipated pass at the corner of the area. It was a lead that City scarcely deserved but we were happy to take it.
Before half time Argyle were level following a good move down the right flank that resulted in a long cross from Clark to the middle of the City penalty area where the impressive Craig Noone met the ball with a thumping header past Weale.
The second half saw Plymouth coping better with the conditions and playing with more purpose and they turned the heat up on City who defended desperately at times. Fallon has a header that hit the side netting, Weale spilled a free kick and Arnason, incredibly, put the rebound over the bar from two yards out.
In reply City’s best chance was a close-in header from Berner that seemed certain to go in but somehow went wide. 
In the closing stages Argyle poured forward as first Joe Mason had a shot tipped on to the bar by Weale and then Berner made a goal line clearance on the post from a Fletcher shot as City failed to clear the ball from a set piece.
The final whistle brought relief for City who struggled to deal with the conditions. Critics might point to the game at Blackpool two weeks ago when both sides produced a superb game on a poor pitch so maybe City were simply having an off day today and we shouldn’t dwell too long on the pitch. Either way, we should be pleased with a point on a day when Plymouth will feel that they should have won.
Plymouth: Stockdale, Barker, Johnson, Johnson, Clark (Cooper 76), Fletcher, Duguid, Arnason, Noone, Mackie, Fallon (Mason 6). Subs Not Used: Judge, Sawyer, Summerfield, Bolasie, Larrieu.
Leicester: Weale, Brown, Berner, Hobbs, Morrison, King, Dyer, Oakley, Wellens, Gallagher (Solano 83), Waghorn (Kermorgant 67). Subs Not Used: Logan, Bruce, N’Guessan, Howard, Neilson.

Referee: R East (Wiltshire). Attendance: 11,581.

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Plymouth at Home 1987 – Another False Dawn

How many times have we City fans admired the pink sky of a false dawn…?

Twenty two years ago the City team seemed to click together beautifully after a poor start to the season in the second tier. Halfway through September 1987 City had just 3 points from 6 games and things were not looking good. Bryan Hamilton’s side were struggling, and he brought in two new signings Jari Rantanen and Mike Newell. We played Oldham Athletic at home on a Wednesday night and suddenly looked like world beaters.
In the 12th minute Andy Ritchie collapsed under a challenge from Steve Walsh and the ref pointed to the spot. Paul Cooper saved the spot kick, City raced up the other end, Simon Morgan crossed for Newell to head home. That’s how good we were. We scored from their penalty. Further goals from the Rantanen (already dubbed ‘the Mighty Finn’), Gary Ford and Ian Wilson left a bewildered Oldham 4-0 down by half-time and the 7,358 crowd in raptures. Ritchie managed to convert his second penalty late on but it was a convincing 4-1 win  for City.
Three days later Plymouth Argyle were the visitors to Filbert Street and, despite the pouring rain, City turned in another performance described in the Mercury as ‘near perfect’.
Wilson opened the scoring; Ford soon added another; Newell made it 3-0 just before the break and Rananten added a fourth on the hour. Cooper kept a clean sheet for 4-0 win.
Plymouth manager Dave Smith was moved to say: “We have seen the Second Division Champions..” after the game, and he wasn’t talking about the team in green.
Sadly we will never know how that side would have fared in future games because Ian Wilson, the main midfield cog, was sold to Everton after the Plymouth game. Things were soon on a downward turn again and Bryan Hamilton was sacked in early December.
Just after Christmas City went to Home Park and were beaten 4-0 by Plymouth. This time Dave Smith didn’t say anything about us being Champions.

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