Constable goal gives United the points. Full time report
James Constable was the hero once again as United won 1-0 at Plymouth this afternoon. Constable's simple goal earned his side their first win in six games as they ground out a good result based on a fine collective effort.
Illness in the camp ruled out Alfie Potter and Tony Capaldi, meaning a first start for Josh Parker on the right wing after some impressive sub appearances. With Tom Craddock preferred up front to Deane Smalley, United had their two top scorers reunited and after 16 minutes it was Constable who opened the scoring.
Parker bravely risked injury to get in front of his defender and dummy the ball for Damian Batt on the overlap. Batt steadied himself and then shot across keeper Jake Cole. It wasn’t the firmest shot ever but was perfectly directed for the run of Constable who steered in one of the simplest of the 91 goals he has now scored for the U’s. Never underestimate Constable’s role in the Yellows’ revival over the last four years. He has now overtaken both Peter Foley and John Aldridge in the all-time scoring list for the club he loves and there are plenty more on the horizon as he chases the two players left above him.
The goal lifted the U’s who played the first half almost exclusively in the Plymouth half of the pitch. Rigg saw a 28th minute free kick saved well by Cole, once United’s keeper, while Adam Chapman and Lewis Montrose patrolled midfield and kept the ball moving and United going forward. Constable had Parker and Craddock screaming for a ball to his right on 32 as United broke with three men against just Onismor Bhasera but the defender did superbly to touch the ball away from danger.
Argyle’s best/only effort of the first half came after 40 minutes as Jason Banton’s low shot tested Luke McCormick but the former Plymouth keeper did well to parry the ball as it bounced just in front of him, allowing Michael Raynes to smuggle the rebound just past the post and away from danger.
Constable dragged a shot wide on 45 after another good ball from Montrose and at the break United were full value for their lead. Although Plymouth came back at them in the second half they should really have been further clear before we reached the hour mark. First a terrible backpass from Durrell Berry presented Craddock with a free run at Cole. Craddock tried to go round the keeper but Cole was too canny and stole the ball from the striker when he should have merely been retrieving the ball from the net. Then a flowing move saw Craddock free for a pass to Constable whose shot flashed into the side netting from the right side of the goal. Two more than presentable chances and United were indebted to skipper Jake Wright for those misses going unpunished as he bravely headed a goalbound effort from Reuben Reid off the line two minutes later.
Plymouth had improved after the break but been bottled up by the exemplary Wright and Raynes, with Batt excellent on the right, Davis dependable on the left and McCormick assured in goal. It is worth noting the warm welcome he received from the home supporters on his return, a nice gesture from fans who deserve for their side to pull away from the danger that results pulls them back in to.
There was a moment of farce as United were awarded a goal after the ball had bounced back into play off of the roof of the net, common sense and the rules of the game finally winning through, but ignoring that incident this was all about the U's seeing a job through, picking up the win and putting a recent run where they had played well without winning behind them.
Job done and United now welcome York City to the Kassam Stadium next Saturday.
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Darrell Fisher, stats by PA Sport