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Last Updated: Monday, 29 January 2007, 11:56 GMT
Sinclair sets out stall

By Charlie Henderson
At Underhill

Scott Sinclair brushes off Simon King before scoring Plymouth's second goal
Scott Sinclair holds off Simon King before slotting his first senior goal

Barnet's Underhill ground may lack FA Cup glamour, and following their 2-0 defeat to Plymouth there was little romance in evidence either.

But despite the home side's valiant failure at giantkilling, their fans left with a memorable memento and a potential "I was there when..." moment.

Bees boss Paul Fairclough described the penalty that gave Plymouth their first goal as the match's "defining moment".

That may be so, but Argyle's second from Scott Sinclair will live longer in the memory.

Prior to this FA Cup fourth round outing Sinclair hit the headlines when he made his Bristol Rovers debut at the age of 15 and was subsequently poached six months later by Chelsea in the summer of 2005.

A tribunal determined the Blues should pay the Pirates 200,000, a fee that still rankles with Rovers fans.

Their sense of injustice will only increase after Sinclair, now 17 and not yet two weeks into an initial month-long loan spell at Plymouth from Chelsea, had everyone drooling after a sensational solo run and strike sealed the game on 83 minutes.

"It was an absolute joy to behold for any football supporter - it was a terrific run and a terrific finish," said Ian Holloway.

On the flip-side the Pilgrims boss was keen to stress he did not want the substitute's impact blown out of proportion, but then again everyone was inevitably getting in on the act.

Fairclough said the goal was "stunning" and Argyle defender Tony Capaldi described it as the "best I've ever seen with my own eyes".

I can assure you you do not want to be run at by people like that
Ian Holloway, Plymouth boss

Following the match Sinclair earned comparison with Dash from the film 'The Incredibles' from Holloway, while team-mate Hasney Aljofree said "the world's his oyster".

"He's quick, he can run with the ball, he's got a trick as well and he can stretch games," added defender Aljofree, who had slotted the opening goal from the penalty spot.

"The first day he came in we had a bit of attacking versus defending in training and every single one of our back four looked at each other and said we didn't want to mark him.

"We'd seen him do a warm-up, he was lightning and then the first attack they had he absolutely skinned us."

So it is a welcome to the club then for the Barnet back four.

Sinclair picked up a short pass from Capaldi from the edge of the Plymouth area and proceeded to slalom down the Underhill slope.

Charlie Henderson

He saw off two defenders, showing immense power as well as pace in the process, before holding off the presence of Simon King in the box and dinking a clipped shot off the outside of his right boot to double Argyle's advantage.

The goal was greeted by chants of "Sign him up! Sign him up! Sign him up!" by the large travelling contingent, but Holloway knows that is not going to happen.

And despite his hope that Jose Mourinho would not be tuning into Match of the Day to see Sinclair in action, Chelsea will get a full scouting report from head of youth development Frank Arnesen who swapped Premiership grandeur for a watching brief at Underhill.

"They know what they've got, I can assure you, and I won't sign him long-term," said Holloway.

"I won't be able to. He belongs to them and they're not that stupid are they?

"You can be at Chelsea, Arsenal, Man United and you get frustrated because you're not going to get a chance.

"When they're buying 30-year-old players for 30m sometimes you get blocked up, so hopefully people like ourselves can nick them, borrow them and help them along with their career."

But Holloway has done more than simply help Sinclair along.

When he was in charge at Bristol Rovers he urged his staff to "knock on doors" to find potential stars and prevent a west country footballing talent drain.

Plymouth strikers Scott Sinclair and Barry Hayles celebrate at Barnet
26.12.04 - League Two
Bristol Rovers 1-1 L Orient
Playing time: One minute
9.4.05 - League Two
Bristol Rovers 1-1 Rushden
Playing time: Two minutes
10.1.07 - Carling Cup
Wycombe 1-1 Chelsea
Playing time: One minute
22.1.07 - Championship
Plymouth 3-2 Coventry
Playing time: 14 minutes
17.1.07 - FA Cup
Barnet 0-2 Plymouth
Playing time: 30 minutes

Five games; One goal
Total playing time: 48 minutes

The upshot was a knock on his own door from chief scout Richard Everson who said he had seen a young lad who "might be as good as Michael Owen one day".

That lad was Sinclair and soon he was forcing Holloway to re-think his own footballing plans.

"Scotty's one of the reasons I packed up," Holloway revealed.

"If you're bringing in 10-year-olds who can run like that, what chance have you got if you're 37 as I was then.

"I took him training when I was player-manager and for me to still be in a job and be manager of him when scores his first goal is marvellous.

"He's a wonderful kid, comes from a fantastic family and he's a credit to his new profession.

"He wants it, he's quick and alive. He has an awful lot of what the modern game's about.

"Great feet, right and left, great balance and he's like Dash off that film the Incredibles," he added, emphasising the point with a flash of his eyes.

"I can assure you you do not want to be run at by people like that.

"I had it years ago with Andrei Kanchelskis and the last thing you want is to be left one-on-one with a load of grass behind you.

"That's the modern game and Thierry Henry's probably the master of it. You've got to be an athlete and Scotty's a modern-day footballer.

"But he's scored one goal, he hasn't played 100 league games yet so in my book, well done son, a good start, but calm down and concentrate on your football."

Sinclair has not played 50 minutes of first-team football, let alone 100 league games.

And for every teenage prodigy who hits the headlines like a Rooney, a Walcott or a Bale, there are dozens of Johnnie Jacksons who fail to live up to their promise.

But you suspect Sinclair has a good chance of making the grade.

Holloway thinks so, as does Aljofree.

And there is no doubting Arnesen enjoyed his trip to this footballing outpost of north London before scuttling away early following Sinclair's sensational strike.

They were all there when Sinclair scored his first goal.

Barnet 0-2 Plymouth
27 Jan 07 |  FA Cup
Plymouth recruit Chelsea teenager
17 Jan 07 |  Plymouth Argyle
Dunford wants fair deal for clubs
10 Nov 05 |  Bristol Rovers
Chelsea must pay for young trio
09 Nov 05 |  Chelsea
Pirates await Sinclair decision
09 Nov 05 |  Bristol Rovers
Rovers starlet on Chelsea switch
02 Jun 05 |  Bristol Rovers


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