Argyle / Football

Argyle reach semi-finals of National League Plate with stuttering win over Stevenage

PLYMOUTH Argyle Ladies have reached the semi-finals of the National League Plate competition after a 3-1 home win over Stevenage.

The Pilgrims produced a stuttering performance against their lower league visitors, but it was enough to get through.  They had the majority of the possession but never really clicked.

Argyle started with Ben Kyle in goal and Bow Jackson, Kate Middleton, Lydia Huntley and Mollie Taylor as the back four, Leah Burridge, Steph Beck and Ebony Dover occupied the midfield with teenager Beth Everson and Helen Bleazard on the flanks and Natasha Knapman up front. Faye Ivall and 16 year-olds Nelinha Barros and Dee Newman made the bench.

The Pilgrims started on the front foot with Taylor heading a Bleazard corner wide. Then Dover, Beck and Burridge produced some nice link up play but it came to nothing, while Knapman and Bleazard were also off target with shots.

The breakthrough came in the 19th minute when Middleton met a Bleazard corner to thump the ball low into the net.

And four minutes later Argyle won possession from a Stevenage throw in and Jackson played the ball to 16-year-old Everson, who calmly took it past a defender and slotted it into the bottom corner for her first senior goal.

The hosts were creating chances but at the other end Kyle had to make a good save from Ashleigh Deacon.

Argyle responded with Jackson firing wide and eight minutes before half-time Everson hit the post.

Dover had also a good chance before the break but the Greens could not add to their tally.

Stevenage nearly pulled a goal back three minutes into the second half but Kyle made a great save from Nicole Emmings.

Argyle then had a goal ruled out for offside after Bleazard headed in following a great move by Everson, Beck and Middleton.

Argyle continued to attack with Taylor and Bleazard having efforts blocked.

But the hosts were stunned on the hour mark when they did not deal with a punt up the field by Vandersluis which left Emmings racing clear to shoot past Kyle.

Stevenage buoyed by their goal had a good period of play but Argyle still had chances.

And finally a third goal came when a great run and cross from Bleazard was turned into the next by a Stevenage defender.

The hosts could have added to their tally. Everson found herself unmarked in the penalty area but prodded the ball past the goal. It was then Knapman’s turn to miss the target with a great opportunity.

Manager Dave Leonard likened his team’s performance as a ‘Del Boy car’.  He said: “We’d start and we stall it, we start and we stall it we just stuttered our way through the game but we were still good enough to beat Stevenage.

“I felt we never really got into our fluid way of playing. We just didn’t get going and we were scrappy. Our shooting was woeful and our decision making in the final third was not up to the standard we played in in recent games.

“The positives were that we had three 16 year-olds finishing the game. I feel with the age of the team we have a really good balance.”

Meanwhile in the South West League Western Division, Argyle’s development team beat Plympton 4-2 in their first game for seven weeks.

The young Pilgrims went into the game knowing they could not afford any slip ups against one of the league favourites. 

With first team call-ups and unavailability, Argyle changed their normal system to one that suited this game.

Argyle appeared to struggle with the formation, but despite this they created the first chance when Nicola Champion fired wide when put through by Kiara Robins.

Plympton responded but the goal was ruled out for off-side.

Argyle slowly got to grips with the game and a Jodie Randall lofted ball looked to be bouncing out of play but Champion squared the ball to Robins, who volleyed in to give the Pilgrims the lead.

The expected response came from Plympton and despite having a penalty appeal turned down, they were soon on level terms when Sam Metters netted following a cleverly worked free-kick.

Argyle regained the lead in the second half when, after a Jodie Randall effort was spilled by Beth Plumpton, Champion pounced to score at the second attempt.

The Greens took the initiative and played their best spell of football and eight minutes later they increased their advantage, when a corner was only half cleared to Panagiota Papaioannou, who expertly curled the ball into the far corner.

Randall and Champion then went close but Plympton responded with Isla Brumhead clearing a headed effort off the line.

The game became a tighter affair when Metters out muscled an Argyle defender to reduced the score. Argyle secured the win when a corner was not dealt with and Champion reeled away by claiming the last touch.

Manager Rob Bonney said: “It was a game that we totally expected. Plympton are a very capable and experienced side at this level. You never felt at ease, even at 3-1.

“A few words were said at half-time by all of our coaches and the second half, we were much improved. Our youngsters faced a really stiff challenge and overcame it.

“There will be plenty of twists and turns in the remainder of the season but we must make sure we are up there challenging.”

Argyle development: Maddie Walsh, Rachel Heron, Panagiota Papaioannou, Leah Johnson, Maddy Leppard, Isla Brumhead, Beth Cowd, Rachel Javan, Jodie Randall, Hannah Brock, Kiara, Jade Robins, Nicola Champion, Maisie Frickleton, Chardonnay James.

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