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Lee strike lifts gloom; BLUES NEWS.

Byline: By Colin Tattum

PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 0

BLUES 1

WHATEVER tangible honour is or isn't handed out to Blues at the season's end, they will have earned some grudging respect.

You can put all sorts of obstacles in their way - even those self-inflicted, like in a shoddy first-half last night - circumstances can conspire against them, but they know how to pull things out of the fire.

Lee Carsley's first goal for the club - a rasping daisy-cutter in the 62nd minute - ultimately proved the difference in a game that was otherwise marked by a lack of clinical finishing, sometimes embarrassingly so.

Plymouth could justifiably bemoan their luck, yet the stark truth is that when you have your opponent where you want him, you make it count - especially when faced with a foe like Blues who, even when not convincing, are ever durable.

With a glut of players missing due to injury or illness, the last senior 16 standing flew down to Exeter airport, and then on to Home Park via coach.

Stuart Parnaby took groin injury victim Sebastian Larsson's place on the right of midfield for Blues, who had been primed to expect an eager Plymouth team under orders to kick their habit of starting slowly.

That's what they got - Plymouth made four changes and brought in fresh legs and meatier physiques - and Blues, simply, just didn't deal with it.

Errors and slackness littered the defensive play and speed of body and mind would hardly have been allowed to check in under the 'anything to declare' channel on touchdown at Birmingham International Airport.

Plymouth got Blues pegged back too often and pressured them into misjudgments, miskicks and misplaced passes. Radhi Jaidi. Martin Taylor and Franck Queudrue were all troubled souls.

Maik Taylor remained constant under a barrage of first-half corners, at which Plymouth tried to neuter his effectiveness by packing the six-yard box, But for all the control Plymouth had in all areas of the pitch, and for all the earnest huff and puff, a takeable back post header put wide by Krisztian Timar was their clearest chance.

A minute into the second-half, Quincy made a penetrating dart, and Blues procured their first corner.

They'd perked up, at last.

Somehow, from the kick, Jaidi missed an absolute sitter from three yards when the ball dropped at his feet. He lashed out too hastily and it flew not just high, but wide.

Queudrue, suffering the effects of illness, was replaced by Kemy Agustien and Parnaby went to leftback and did a sterling job, too.

Even despite Jaidi's howler, you could tell Blues were a better proposition.

Martin Taylor tightened up, Carsley and Nigel Quashie became factors and Quincy was dynamite in possession, really taking the game to Plymouth.

There were still alarms, notably a horrible miskick by Jamie Mackie when spare inside the box, just before Blues struck through their captain.

Quincy zoomed in from the left and cracked a fierce shot that thudded down off the underside of the crossbar and bounced suspiciously over the line before the ball was cleared for a corner.

A short routine was worked to create space for Carsley 25 yards out and he showed great composure and technique to drill the ball sweetly in, with it clipping the inside of the post on its way.

Plymouth's demeanour took a major knock with that goal, and Blues sent Cameron Jerome on to create more concern for their defence, unlike in the first-half, when it was all about the siege on Blues.

Maik Taylor kept Blues' lead in tact with two good low saves and dummy by Rory Fallon at the near post as the bodies piled in almost resulted in an equaliser as the ball came up off Carsley, hit Jaidi and looped just wide.

Blues could have picked Plymouth off on the counter-attack as the relentless Marcus Bent sliced wide when through and Jerome scuffed from 10 yards the last touch on what was a lovely, flowing move down the left that saw Parnaby at the head of a charge.

It was by no means convincing or assured stuff by Blues, the main satisfaction had to be the result in the context of the tussle among the league's top three and considering the absentee register and the dodginess of the first period.

BLUES (4-4-2): Maik Taylor. 7. Hunt. 6. Queudrue 5 (Agustien 48, 6) Jaidi 5. Martin Taylor 5.

Parnaby 7. Quashie 6. Carsley 6. Bent 6. Phillips 5 (Jerome 68, 6). QUINCY 7. Not used: Nafti, Johnson, Doyle.

PLYMOUTH (4-4-1-1): Larrieu, Clark, Barker, Walton, Timar, Seip, Mackie, Summerfield (MacLean 90), Fallon, Gallagher, Paterson (Noone 73). Subs not used: Folly, Cathcart, Marin.

Referee: K Wright (Cambs).

CAPTION(S):

Kemy Agustien rises high to beat Plymouth's Rory Fallon to the ball.; Blues striker Cameron Jerome beats Plymouth keeper Romain Larrieu but is thwarted by Krisztian Timar. Pictures: Tim Easthope.; Lee Carsley celebrates his goal with Marcus Bent and Kemy Agustien.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Dec 10, 2008
Words:824
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