PLYMOUTH Argyle Ladies overcame the absence of star striker Natasha Knapman to claim a decisive 4-1 away victory at Gillingham in the National Premier League Southern Division on Sunday.
Knapman had picked up an injury the previous week and was not fit enough to travel to Kent. Argyle were also still without new signing Jessica Jones, whose international clearance has still not come through after playing in Canada.
But the Pilgrims made a superb start on the wide Priestfield Stadium pitch and took a 3-0 half-time lead.
Zoe Cunningham headed in a Helen Bleazard cross in just the seventh minute to put the visitors ahead.
Five minutes later Welsh international Bleazard opened her account with a blistering drive.
It became 3-0 in the 39th minute when Mollie Taylor was given the room to slam in another great goal.
Victory was sealed in the second half when captain Katie Middleton headed in a Becky Dandridge corner.
Both Bleazard and Cunningham had earlier rattled the Gillingham woodwork.
However, Argyle were denied a clean sheet when, with five minutes to go, Becky Dandridge was contentiously adjudged to have fouled Alice Bussey in the penalty box, leaving Maddison Farrand to convert the spot-kick.
Argyle’s development team were not able to make it a win-double for the club as they lost 3-2 at Plympton in the South West League Western Division.
Plympton are fast becoming Argyle Development team’s bogey side, as it was them who practically denied the Pilgrims the title last season. This time a disputed final goal decided the contest.
Argyle started well but a Lucy Solloway shot was well saved. The visitors suffered an early blow when they lost influential defender Charlie Rollerson with a facial injury and shortly after Plympton took the lead when a long ball from a free-kick was put in by Shannon Workman.
Argyle struck back when a pin-point cross-field ball was volleyed in by Solloway.
Goalkeeper Amy Darnley then made two crucial saves and the ever-dangerous Solloway struck a post.
In the dying moments of the first half a poor ball out of the defence saw Workman add her second for Plympton.
The Pilgrims rang the changes at half-time with the introduction of youngsters Kiara Robins and Maya Ridge. They were eventually rewarded when the hard-working Gabi Alphous drove home a fierce shot.
Argyle had a good spell without threatening. And they paid for their lack of cutting edge when Plympton won a free-kick. While the Argyle players protested to the referee he allowed a short free-kick to be taken which was tucked away by Sam Metters for the winning goal.
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