PLYMOUTH Argyle Ladies put in a tremendous performance before going out of the FA Cup with a 2-1 loss in a closely fought second round tie at Coventry United.
Argyle went into the game having suffered a 9-1 mauling at the hands of Coventry in the league just seven days earlier.
They knew they had to step up to the plate to put memories of that game behind them. And they did it in style by showing immense character and determination in the Midlands.
Management duo Dave Leonard and Trevor Rodd had to make changes to the starting line up and left out goalkeeper Lindsay Rogers to bring in experienced shot stopper Sarah Prior from the development team.
Also missing was all-action midfielder Zoe Cunningham, who sat out the tie due to suspension. Mollie Taylor was also left behind as she has been ill all week, which meant Darcey Hepworth and Cornish youngsters Faye Ivall and Tamsin Medd-Gill were on the bench.
Argyle opted for a 3-5-2 formation so that they would start the game on the front foot and this worked until Becca Wakley conceded a dubious penalty which Chenise Austin converted.
The Pilgrims started to play with a purpose they failed to show the previous week and took the game to their hosts.
The visitors started the second half in style with Jones firing a shot narrowly wide as they took the game to Coventry.
Both teams had half-chances with the result always in the balance. Unfortunately the all-important decisive second goal went to Coventry when a cross was headed in by Amy Wathan.
The Greens battled hard in their search for the equalising goal but it proved not to be their day. However, the players walked off the pitch with their heads held high as their performance exorcised the demons of the previous week.
Joint manager Trevor Rodd was delighted with the way Argyle responded to last weekend’s heavy defeat. He said: “’The players are to be commended as all 14 of them stood up to the plate to be counted.
“They showed great resilience, bravery and came through the mental test with flying colours and they should all be commended for their individual performances.”
Argyle squad: Sarah Prior, Becca Wakley (Faye Ivall), Giota Papioannou, Kate Middleton, Ebony Dover, Steph Beck, Becky Dandridge (Darcey Hepworth), Jessica Jones, Kayley Lane, Helen Bleazard, Amber Pollock (Tamsin Medd-Gill).
In the South West League Western Division, Argyle’s development team made a remarkable second half recovery to earn a point against their local rivals having gone it at half-time 3-0 down.
They ended up earning a 3-3 draw thanks to a goal in the last minute of the game.
Argyle included goalkeeper Lindsay Rogers, who dropped down from the first team, but they were without Faye Ivall and Tamsin Medd-Gill, who were called into the first team squad. It was also a chance for new signing American Rachel Heron to make her début at the centre of the defence.
With both teams vying for the divisional title and Plympton having won the first encounter 3-2 it looked as if it was going to be a close affair.
But Plympton, despite losing defender Jodie Ceugh after two minutes through injury, were the first to show when, after just eight minutes, they struck when after Rogers made a flying save Sam Metters was the first to react to hit the loose ball into the net.
And it became 2-0 in the 32nd minute when Metters tried her luck from distance with the ball flying over Rogers into the roof of the net.
It got even worse two minutes later when a rash Rachel Javan challenge resulted in Metters slamming in the penalty to complete her hat-trick with her 20th goal of the season.
Shannon Workman was then denied by Rogers diving at her feet after racing past a couple of players on the goal line.
It looked all but over for Argyle but a triple substitution made all the difference as Argyle attacked from the start.
Gabi Alphous raced on to a through ball from Kiara Roberts to reduce the arrears.
Plympton goalkeeper Molly Murdoch was then called into action when saving a Jodie Randell shot with Murdoch also saving Mata Ridge’s follow up.
It was then Randell’s turn to clear a Plympton effort off the goal line in which she was injured.
The game became really interesting when Roberts played in an identical ball in the 65th minute to Alphous to fire in off a post for her 10th goal of the season.
The Pilgrims kept going and Sally Salter saw her effort crash back off an upright. But with just seconds remaining Kelly Vinnicombe side-footed in the equaliser much to the delight of players and fans.
Manager Rob Bonney said: “I thought we started really brightly but once we conceded, it changed the complexion of the first half. We made basic errors. The first goal, our defence never reacted after Lyndsey had made a great save. We allowed them far too much space for their second. After conceding the third, the team showed great character to hang in there and not allow the situation to get any worse.
“At half-time we decided to change our formation and bring on the players to suit. It put us on the front foot and we deservedly turned the game around. The ladies showed great character, togetherness and determination to secure a very hard earned point.”
Argyle Development: Lindsay Rogers, Becky Parkyn, Rachel Heron, Rachel Javan, Jodie Randell, Sally Salter, Alex Hugh, Kelly Vinnicombe, Shania Fenlon, Nicola Champion, Gabi Alphous, Hannah Brock, Kiara Roberts, Vicki Fannon, Maya Ridge.