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Plymouth 2 - 0 Saints
THEY SAY when you’re down the bottom of the table, things go against you – but you need to take advantage when they don’t.
Against Nottingham Forest, there was no hint of bad luck for Saints.
They had their fair share of the rub of the green but, even playing at home, ended up losing after a poor performance.
They travelled to Plymouth on Boxing Day and were unlucky with several marginal things going against them.
But the problem is that when that ultimately cost them the chance of getting any kind of result, the impact is even harder due to the Forest game.
And all that culminates in a whole load of pressure they could well do without when they take on Reading at St Mary’s tomorrow.
VERDICT: Saints were a little unlucky but again that lack of a cutting edge cost them the chance of getting anything from the game. Suddenly there is a lot of pressure on them for tomorrow’s match against Reading.Adam Leitch
That will hardly be a walk in the park.
Not only are Reading a good team but they will surely be desperate to avenge their defeat at the hands of Saints at the Madejski Stadium.
The trouble is that around the relegation zone things have got very tight.
Saints’ poor run of results in recent weeks has seen the majority of their cushion eroded.
It just needs a bad weekend and they could be in the bottom three and, psychologically, that would be a big blow.
Saints just need to try and take the positives from the trip to Plymouth into the Reading match and start the game in the same way they did just a short while ago.
At Plymouth there were positives.
Saints started as they had to, keeping possession really well and trying to frustrate the home team.
Saints played the better football for the majority of the match, even if finding that penetration in the final third again proved elusive.
Also, such is the way with Saints, once they had fallen 2-0 down and Plymouth started to drop deep, they began to run riot.
Plymouth had the only chances of the opening stages of the game with Luke Summerfield sidefooting over the bar and Rory Fallon’s header being saved by Kelvin Davis.
Davis had some serious work to do on 24 minutes when he saved brilliantly from Fallon’s point blank range header, somehow diving back to his right to keep it out.
Saints’ best opportunity of the first half came just a minute later when Ryan Smith had a shot from the right that took a deflection and looped to the far post.
David McGoldrick was the only person alert to the possibility and came in for a free header but didn’t aim it downwards and Romain Larrieu got back to throw himself across his near post to make the save.
After Oscar Gobern had whistled a low effort from distance just wide of the target, Saints were ruing not converting their chance when Plymouth took the lead.
Saints failed to clear a ball into the box any further than Craig Noone on the left, he chipped the ball back in and picked out Fallon, unmarked six yards out, and he powered his header past Davis, who had no chance.
There was a controversial start to the second period as Saints fell 2-0 down on 52 minutes.
Paul Gallagher was allowed to skip past two Saints challenges on the right byline and cut the ball back to Fallon.
He stretched to shoot as Ollie Lancashire threw himself in the way. The ball flew into Lancashire, who blocked the shot, but the referee deemed it was a deliberate handball and awarded a penalty.
Summerfield stepped up to take it and sent Davis the wrong way.
The game could have been very different had Saints pulled a goal back on 58 minutes.
Larrieu looked like he was going to come out of his area to clear a long ball down the right but changed his mind and backed off, allowing the unfortunate McGold-rick to curl the ball around him only to see it hit the outside of the post.
Saints started to up the pressure, Andrew Surman’s free-kick being saved by Larrieu while Ryan Smith’s cross flashed across goal but wide of the far post without a touch.
Plymouth almost ended the game when sub Jamie Mackie cut in from the right and saw his shot saved by Davis.
Smith threatened again with a shot that went just over the bar as Plymouth dropped deeper and deeper.
However, the home side managed to see out the remainder of the game to take the three points.
In truth, this was just another routine away defeat, the kind of result you get more often than not unless your team are vying for a title.
But, when you haven’t made the most of opportunities in other games, suddenly it becomes more significant than it should be.