HOLDERS Plymouth Argyle Ladies eased into the semi-final of the Devon Senior Cup with a 2-0 victory against a resilient Marine Academy Plymouth outfit.
Argyle handed a debut for Greek under-20 international defender Giota Papaipannou, who had just returned from playing in her country’s 1-1 draw against Slovakia.
Marine Academy defence was well-organised and the Pilgrims knew they would have to work hard to progress.
Jessica Jones was denied by impressive Marine goalkeeper Amy Carpenter, who then somehow spread herself to deny Faye Ivall at point blank range after she had raced on to a Helen Bleazard cross.
The Pilgrims’ good football was finally rewarded when Marine failed to clear a corner and Papaipannou was lurking on the edge of the penalty area to volley the ball low into the corner of the net with the outside of her foot.
The second goal was class as Jones picked up the ball, raced away from the Marine defenders before slamming the ball into the roof of the net.
It should have then been 3-0 when Bleazard raced down the right wing before sending over the perfect cross for Ivall to run past a defender and tap the ball into the net, but the goal was surprisingly ruled out for offside.
The second half was virtually all Argyle as they searched for that elusive third goal. Shots reined in from all angles but without success.
With such a small lead there was always a possibility that Marine would pull a goal back and goalkeeper Lindsay Rogers was called upon to save low from Sam Drewery with the same player then firing wide.
Only some desperate defending kept out the Argyle from increasing their lead.
Argyle joint manager Trevor Rodd said: “I would like to congratulate MAP for the way they approached the tie. They played an expansive game and worked hard to win possession.
“Yes, we controlled the game but we had to work hard to keep possession.
“Unfortunately our finishing in the final third was not good as we could have scored a few more goals.”
Argyle squad: Lindsay Rogers, Darcey Hepworth (Rachel Heron), Faye Ivall. Kate Middleton. Becca Wakley, Helen Bleazard, Becky Dandridge (Steph Beck), Amber Pollock, Giota Papaipannou, Jessica Jones, Zoe Cunningham. Unused substitutes: Ebony Dover, Mollie Taylor, Kayley Lane.
Meanwhile, Argyle’s development team stay top of the South West League but they were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw away at Pen Mill.
Penn Mill were quick out of the blocks and soon forced Argyle on to their back foot. They had to cope with wave-after-wave of attacks from the home side.
Argyle were eventually punished when, after conceding another free-kick in a dangerous area, the ball was scrambled in to give the home team a deserved lead.
The Pilgrims continued to struggle to make any impact on the game. They did create one more worthwhile effort when a great cross from Rachel Javan found Nicola Champion, whose effort went straight at the goalkeeper.
Whatever was said in the changing room at half-time seemed to have an immediate effect on the Greens, as they started in a far more positive fashion.
Eight minutes into the second period, Gabi Alphous levelled the scores with a well-taken goal.
And three minutes later, Jodie Randall gave Argyle the lead with a fierce angled free-kick from the left hand side.
The game looked to be heading only one way as the Pilgrims appeared to have turned the game completely around unfortunately the bad habits returned and they let all their hard work slip away.
A weak header out of defence was returned with interest when an unstoppable drive flew into the roof of the Argyle net to level the scores.
Coach Si Parnell said: “We started slowly and really struggled to get into the game in the first half.
“But we started the second half really well and had a high tempo, pressing and moving the ball quicker. We soon equalised and not long after took the lead. The game then became a more even affair but we took our foot off the pedal and went back to our bad first half ways.
“We have got to be honest and on the balance of play Penn Mill possibly deserved to win.”
Argyle development squad: Sarah Prior, Tamsin Medd-Gill, Becky Parkyn, Vicky Fannon (Jodie Randall), Rachel Javan, Sally Salter, Alex Hugh, Kelly Vinnicombe, Shania Fenlon (Maya Ridge), Gabi Alphous (Hannah Brock), Unused substitute Kiara Robins.