Plymouth strike early to win at Boro

24 February 2024 0 By Total Football News

Plymouth piled further home misery on Middlesbrough by claiming a much-needed 2-0 win at the Riverside Stadium.

Frustrations grew on Teesside after failing to end a wait since before Christmas for a home victory in the Sky Bet Championship; a run that has stretched to five matches.

Matthew Sorinola’s opener in the seventh minute was followed by Ryan Hardie’s 13th goal of the season in the 31st minute to put Plymouth on track for only their second away win.

Plymouth deserved it too after a first half when Middlesbrough looked nervous in possession at times and defensively unable to thwart danger.

Matthew Sorinola of Plymouth Argyle celebrates after scoring the opening goal

Image: Matthew Sorinola of Plymouth Argyle celebrates after scoring the opening goal

Considering Middlesbrough stunned leaders Leicester a week earlier, and Plymouth’s away troubles, it was the visitors who looked full of confidence and intent in the first half.

It did not take long for Ian Foster’s side to take the lead.

After the visitors were gifted possession on halfway, Plymouth attacked and Darko Gyabi was allowed to curl towards the far post where Tom Glover dived to stop.

The goalkeeper did not do enough to get the ball out of harm’s way and Sorinola was on hand to force beyond Glover and secure his first goal since moving to the Pilgrims from Belgium in January.

The only decent opportunity Middlesbrough created was when Marcus Forss was denied by Conor Hazard after moving to the near post to meet Lewis O’Brien’s cross. The flag went up anyway.

Otherwise Plymouth – who made three changes to the side which lost 3-0 to West Brom – put the red shirts under a lot of pressure defensively when they were on the ball and got their rewards.

Glover had already fumbled an effort from Morgan Whittaker before the second arrived just after the half-hour mark.

Hardie was picked out in too much space by the lively Gyabi. The striker’s first touch was perfect before he was allowed to cut inside and curl round Rav van den Berg and finish in the far corner.

As the boos and jeers got louder Plymouth kept pushing.

Adam Randell almost had a third soon after when he was allowed to run through the centre of the pitch and shoot. Glover stopped the first and then charged forward to block the rebound.

There was another save for Glover to make at his near post after Whittaker had been played in down the right and Middlesbrough reached half-time needing a complete reset. It did not come.

Plymouth were first to go close again after the restart. Gyabi’s pass into the area was collected by Hardie, whose first touch rounded Hazard but the angle was too tight to find the net.

Riley McGree missed the target from distance soon after and that was as close as Middlesbrough got. The Aussie was replaced, along with Finn Azaz, as head coach Michael Carrick looked for an injection from Emmanuel Latte Lath and Sam Greenwood.

Yet Jordan Houghton’s low drive was next to arrive and, despite plenty of possession, Middlesbrough could not create anything of real note.

When they eventually did, Sammy Silvera’s shot went for a throw-in when he was unmarked at the back post in the latter stages.

The managers

Middlesbrough’s Michael Carrick:

“That’s football. The challenge is being successful in the league and to be able to put performances together and results together, every game is different, and we are not getting that mix right at all.

“We know what we are capable of on any given day, but this was not one of those days. As a group, I will take the hit today in terms of decisions I make and how I put the team out. That was on me.

“The boys tried and gave their best today. The longer it went the harder it became, that’s on me today. I will take that one.

“Not many things went right to be truthful. We had an idea of how it would go, what we wanted to do, the way we play. It didn’t pan out that way, that’s on me.”

Plymouth’s Ian Foster:

“The boys were outstanding to a man, and it was probably the perfect away performance. We had a strategy, a game plan and the players implemented it brilliantly.

“I’m disappointed it was only two at half-time and the second half was terrific in terms of our tactical discipline and transition, the building up.

“We don’t get too disappointed when results don’t go our way and we won’t get too excited when they do. We will get results we don’t like and we will enjoy them when we do get the ones we like.

“In terms of a new coach coming in, and the games we have had, the players have done everyone proud.

“I don’t think it has been a turnaround after recent results. Our levels have been very good.”

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