Two second half goals for home side undo Town after Helik equaliser
- Plymouth Argyle 3-1 Huddersfield Town
- Michał Helik scores the Town goal
- Wasteful finishing and defensive errors costs Town
Town started the 2023/24 Sky Bet Championship season with defeat at newly promoted Plymouth Argyle in a game that could have easily gone the other way if it wasn’t for some poor finishing.
Having fallen behind early after a moment of defensive hesitation put them, Neil Warnock’s side deservedly got back in it through Michał Helik to draw level at the interval. However, it could – and should – have been more, with Josh Koroma and Jack Rudoni missing very presentable chances.
Brahima Diarra couldn’t capitalise on another big moment before the hosts scored a quickfire brace to put the game beyond date, albeit with the third having more of a hint of offside.
Neil Warnock set his side up in a 4-3-3 formation for the season opener, with new loan signing Tom Edwards being handed an immediate debut at right back in front of more than 1,600 vocal Town fans.
Unfortunately, a moment of indecision cost Town only six minutes in as the hosts took the lead. Bali Mumba’s cross from our right was headed into the air and two of our best, Lee Nicholls and Michał Helik, left the ball for each other. Eventually the Pole reacted and headed it partially clear, but a Plymouth man knocked it back into the six-yard box where winger Morgan Whittaker bundled it home.
Buoyed, the newly promoted team in green tried to push on and went close to a second. Callum Wright turned Rarmani Edmonds-Green too easily in midfield and advanced before playing the ball into the box for Whittaker, who forced Nicholls into a low save by his near post.
Town got a foothold in the game on the quarter hour and started to create at the other end. On two occasions Josh Koroma seized upon passes from goalkeeper Conor Hazard, but we couldn’t take advantage. On the first occasion he found Danny Ward in the area, who rolled a shot from a narrow angle well wide. On the second, he trued to shoot himself and smashed the ball wildly high and wide.
The men in blue and white continued forward and Edmonds-Green soon supplied Koroma again down the left. He cut inside in trademark fashion and took aim, but midfielder Jordan Houghton bravely took the powerful effort full in the face.
JK was the main threat on the pitch at this point and should have done much better in the 23rd minute when Sorba Thomas’ deep cross fell to him in space at the back post. He tried to bluff the ‘keeper and fire inside the near post but dragged his effort wide from around 15 yards out.
Warnock was forced into a change as the game continued, as Matty Pearson was unable to recover from what looked like a dead leg sustained in an aerial challenge with the Plymouth ‘keeper. That accelerated club captain Jonathan Hogg’s return from injury, as he came off the bench and REG dropped into centre back.
Jack Rudoni had the next effort but could only send a header from Edwards’ excellent cross miles wide in the swirling wind at Home Park.
With first half added time ticking down, Town managed to find the equaliser that they deserved. A corner was initially cleared out of the area by Argyle, but Town kept it alive and worked it to Sorba on the right. His left footed cross wasn’t properly cleared at the near post and Brahima Diarra outmuscled a defender to seize the ball before hitting a snapshot that cannoned off the near post, with the ball flying straight to Helik, who stroked it home!
Town took that momentum into the second 45 minutes and, with the wind at their backs, looked the more likely side to go ahead. Diarra’s swirling cross had to be tipped over by Hazard early on and then, shortly afterwards, the same player forced the Plymouth ‘keeper into an error in possession. Brahima picked up the ball in the area and span to shoot, and should have done better; in the end, Hazard managed to push his shot wide.
In the end, however, a loss of two individual battles cost Town. Plymouth retook the lead in the 73rd minute when Mumba got past Thomas on the wing and then drove straight through the heart of the Town defence before beating Nicholls inside the area.
Diarra half volleyed just wide from 20 yards after good work from Ward and Rudoni right after the restart, but then Plymouth scored a third as striker Ryan Hardie went clear and beat Nicholls. There was more than a hint of offside about the goal, when looking at the replay, but it stood.
Substitute Pat Jones tried to get his side back in it upon the restart, skinning his full back before finding Ward at the near post. However, this time Hazard did well – sticking out a hand to deflect his deft near post effort over the crossbar.
Town couldn’t create another clear-cut chance as Argyle saw the game out, meaning defeat on the road for the Terriers.
Town’s team vs Plymouth Argyle (4-3-3)
Lee Nicholls; Tom Edwards, Matty Pearson (Jonathan Hogg, 42’), Michał Helik (c), Josh Ruffels; Jack Rudoni, Rarmani Edmonds-Green, Brahima Diarra (Pat Jones, 77’); Sorba Thomas (Ben Jackson, 77’), Danny Ward, Josh Koroma (Kian Harratt, 84’)
Chris Maxwell; Jaheim Headley, Brodie Spencer, Kyle Hudlin, Yuta Nakayama
Michał Helik (45+8’)