PLYMOUTH Argyle Ladies enjoyed an impressive start to their new home at the Manadon Sports Hub by beating a Bristol City XI 7-1 in their latest pre-season match.
Argyle took a little time to settle into their new surroundings, but once they overcame an early deficit they comfortably controlled the game and could have made it double figures.
The Pilgrims’ first chance fell to Natasha Knapman, who shot narrowly wide.
The hosts then got caught on the break when Bristol launched a quick counterattack which resulted in then taking a 14th minute lead.
New Argyle goalkeeper Becky Kyle then saved down low before the host club started to get on top. Bleazard and Knapman had chances before Argyle pulled when a Kayley Lane cross saw Bleazard stoop low to head in the equaliser.
The Greens were now looking sharper with Ellie Bishop having her low effort saved.
Bristol were still dangerous on the break, but eventually Argyle took the lead when a Bleazard cross was headed in by the unmarked Knapman.
Not long later, the Pilgrims had a narrow escape when a free-kick came back off the crossbar with Kyle grabbing the rebound.
Argyle continued to dominate but they had to wait until three minutes before half-time to make it 3-1 when another great cross from Bleazard was met by the head of Knapman, who scored in off the near post.
The hosts made it 4-1 right on the half-time whistle when another Bleazard free-kick was back headed into the net by Lane.
Argyle started the second period in a hurry and Lane saw her shot from distance slam back off the crossbar, with Knapman unable to make contact. Amber Pollock then fired wide.
The Greens should have increased their lead when Kate Middleton saw her low penalty kick well saved.
However, a fifth goal was not too long in coming when three minutes later the impressive Beth Everson shuck off her defender before looking up to find the on rushing Ellie Bishop, who made no mistake.
Knapman then had a good shot well saved before winning a free-kick five minutes later on the edge of the penalty area which Middleton fired low into the net to make 6-1.
Knapman then fired wide from a Bleazard corner before Bristol then missed a great chance to reduce the arrears by firing over the bar.
More chances fell Argyle’s way before Pollock fired in to make it 7-1 after Knapman and Everson had seen efforts blocked or cleared.
Argyle manager Dave Leonard was satisfied with the team’s overall performance.
“It was a productive run out,” he said. “I knew they would move us around at times but it’s irrelevant who we play it’s all about what we do. And I thought we did a really good job.
“Their goal really disappointed me; we gave the ball away and then just shut off. We have got to eradicate our basic mistakes. We’ve got to learn from that – that is what pre season is all about if we do that we will be better for it.”
He added: “To me the biggest thing I am trying to get at our training sessions is how effective we can be when we haven’t got the ball. And that for me was one of our plusses – how we coped when we let the opposition have the ball. We scored four goals from them trying to play out at the back.”
Leonard said on the performance of 16-year-old Everson: “She is young, she is keen and she wants to listen. She’s got a good future ahead of her. What is nice is the way the girls have taken to her and encouraged her.’
Leonard also commented on midfielder Ellie Bishop, who is getting better every game.
“She came in with players absent and she has took her chance well and improving all the time,” added Leonard.
Argyle squad: Becky Kyle, Kate Middleton, Mollie Taylor, Helen Bleazard, Ellie Bishop, Kayley Lane, Becky Dandridge, Amber Pollock, Faye Ivall, Beth Everson, Natasha Knapman, Darcey Hepworth.
Meanwhile, Argyle’s young patched up development side did not get the rub of the green in an 8-3 defeat at AFC Bournemouth.
The young Pilgrims ended up with 10 players following injuries to key squad members.
All looked well when Argyle took the lead with a great Tamsin Keat strike. Unfortunately it was then downhill all the way when, with less than 10 minutes on the clock, they lost Kiara Robins through injury. This handed an early debut to 16-year-old Chardonnay James.
During the reshuffle Bournemouth grabbed an equaliser and within two minutes had taken the lead with a goal Argyle felt was offside. Lucy Solloway nearly grabbed an equaliser but her well struck shot cannoned back off a post. It got worse for Argyle with Bournemouth grabbing two more goals that the visitors again felt were offside.
The hosts increased their lead in the second half and Argyle found themselves down to 10 players when Scarlett Williams came off injured.
Undeterred the visitors pulled a goal back when Nicola Champion latched on to a Keat through ball to score. Bournemouth struck twice more to give the scoreline an unrealistic look but Argyle had the last say when 16-year-old Beth Cowd intercepted the ball in her own half to score with a fine solo effort.
Manager Rob Bonney said he could not fault his team for their grit, determination and energy levels that they showed throughout the game.
He was disappointed about certain decisions in the first half but wanted to focus on the areas where the team could certainly improve.
He said: “Even though we were down to the bare bones of a squad, we did make it difficult for ourselves. The team were made aware of the areas of their game where we certainly need to work on.
“A special mention has to go to Rachel Javan, who took the role of assistant. Not only did she captain and play in the side, she also had a big say in the changing room. She is an absolute role model and is a massive influence around the youngsters and someone they should aspire to.”
Argyle development squad: Maddie Walsh, Jodie Randall, Rachal Javan, Beth Cowd, Chardonnay James, Hannah Brock, Scarlett Williams, Kiara Robins, Lucy Solloway, Tamsin Keat, Nicola Champion, Maisie Williams.