THE first match of Argyle’s pre-season schedule could barely have been any worse for the Pilgrims after a trip to Dorchester saw them easily beaten by a Yeovil side brimming with confidence.
A hat-trick from former Argyle trainee Reuben Reid, added to be strikes from Keanu Marsh-Brown and James Hayter, was enough to defeat the Pilgrims, who were reduced to ten men after Nick Chadwick was shown red five minutes before half-time.
Argyle manager Carl Fletcher opted to field just one of his summer signings, Paris Cowan-Hall, in his first starting line-up of pre-season, with goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin and midfielder Jamie Lowry both starting on the substitutes’ bench.
Fletch also chose to hand a start to Spanish trialist Alejandro Perez Jimenez, who featured at right-back for the full 90 minutes.
The early exchanges were dominated by Argyle, with Yeovil not prepared to chase or press too highly, and the pace which the Pilgrims have in abundance was evident.
Isaac Vassell was set free down the left-hand side before the ball found Cowan-Hall down the right. He was promptly stopped in his track by Glovers’ full-back Jamie McAllister, giving the Pilgrims a free- kick.
Luke Young’s initial delivery was cleared but his second attempt was better, with Marek Stech just beat Chadwick to the ball.
The first time Yeovil really tried to get forward, Argyle gave away a cheap free-kick which found former Pilgrim Reuben Reid who held the ball up before teeing up a crossing opportunity for Rohan Ince. The cross drifted just above the heads of Reid and Hayter, letting Argyle off.
But on nine minutes, Reid opened the scoring for Yeovil.
James Hayter flicked the ball over the top and Reid got between Darren Purse and Jamie Richards, leaving Jake Cole with it all to do, but unfortunately the ‘keeper could not stop the ball which was placed cutely into the bottom right corner.
The Pilgrims upped their game and responded well, getting back on the ball and pushing forward once again. Chadwick was caught as he was about to strike on goal with 13 minutes gone, resulting in an Argyle free-kick.
Set-piece expert Robbie Williams stepped up, with his first effort hitting the wall. His second, a fine strike, Stech was more than equal to.
With 20 on the clock, the Yeovil defence again decided it would be a good idea to put their hands all over Nick Chadwick, resulting in another free-kick for the Pilgrims on the edge of the box.
Williams again stepped up and saw his shot blocked before Darren Purse put in a cross, Stech this time doing enough to prevent Chadwick from connecting.
It was 2-0 to Yeovil on 22 minutes. Cowan-Hall sloppily gave the ball away for Argyle and Yeovil countered once again. Hayter flicked the ball once again over the two centre-backs for the pacy Marsh-Brown who opted to drive it towards the goal. Cole got his hands to the ball but could not prevent it from finding the left corner of the net.
The first corner of the match was awarded to Yeovil with just over half an hour gone after Marsh-Brown played a ball down the right channel for Reid, who put a cracking ball across the box but Purse was able to put it behind.
Purse gifted Yeovil a third goal of the afternoon with 37 minutes on the clock. The new Argyle skipper slipped in Argyle’s own box as he was being hounded by Reuben Reid, and Reid simply slotted the ball into the bottom right corner past a hapless Cole.
You would have forgotten it was a friendly on 40 minutes as Chadwick was issued a red card for an off the ball incident. The linesman appeared to have missed the incident but the referee felt he had seen enough of a supposed punch by Chadwick on Richard Hinds, who felt he should give Chadwick a piece of his mind. So Argyle were left with just 10 men for the remaining 50 minutes.
Cole did a fantastic job of preventing Yeovil getting a fourth just before half-time. Rohan Ince was slotted through behind Purse by Upson, but Cole made himself big and comfortably blocked Ince’s attempt to place the ball in the right corner.
Changes were aplenty for both sides at half time. Carl Fletcher chose to bring on Jordan Copp, Matt Lecointe, Conor Hourihane, Onismor Bhasera, Curtis Nelson, Jamie Lowry, Maxime Blanchard and Jared Sims, with just Jake Cole and Alejandro Perez Jimenez remaining on the field.
For Yeovil, Aarron Downes, Sam Foley, Chigozie Ugwu and Lewis Young were the only changes.
Argyle had a great chance to get one back just after half time. New signing Lowry found Copp on the half way line and the youngster broke forward before slotting in Sims, but Stech pulled off a great diving save to his left to prevent Sims getting on the score sheet.
The pressure continued with Argyle being a lot more industrious at the start of the second half. Good spells of possession for Argyle were beginning to result in chances in front of goal, something that severely lacked in the first half.
Firstly, Lecointe tested Stech’s resolve with a stinging effort from the edge of the box resulting in a corner. The corner was duly cleared and it fell to Lowry, who had a go of his own but it sailed just over the bar, knocking over a member of the Green Army on its way.
With 15 minutes of the second half gone, it was easy to forget Argyle were down to 10.
Hourihane and Lowry were both pulling strings in the centre of the Argyle midfield before Copp won a free-kick on the right hand side. Lowry delivered into the box, finding the head of Nelson who had the beating of Stech, but watched his header bounce off the post.
It was 4-0 to Yeovil on 70 minutes. A cross from Reid from the right hand side saw Cole come out but fail to connect with the ball, and Hayter was able to nod home from six yards.
Copp was continuing to catch the eye throughout the second half, particularly with the quality of his passing. He picked up the ball halfway inside the Yeovil half before chipping an inch-perfect ball into the box for the Lecointe, but Matt lashed at the shot and sent it high and wide.
Reid managed to round the game off and bag his hat-trick after being allowed plenty of time and space around the box.
He picked up the ball 25 yards out and bent it into the top left corner, with Cole unable to get anywhere near the effort.
Argyle (4-4-2): 1 Jake Cole (gk); 27 Alejandro Perez Jimenez, 5 Darren Purse (4 Maxime Blanchard h-t), 23 Jamie Richards (17 Curtis Nelson h-t), 3 Robbie Williams (14 Onismor Bhasera h-t); 26 Jed Harper-Penman (24 Jordan Copp h-t), 8 Luke Young (6 Conor Hourihane h-t), 18 Ladjie Soukouna (16 Jamie Lowry h-t), 25 Isaac Vassell (22 Jared Sims h-t); 9 Nick Chadwick, 7 Paris Cowan-Hall (21 Matt Lecointe h-t). Substitutes (not used): 13 Ollie Chenoweth (gk), 20 Rene Gilmartin (gk).
Sent-off: Chadwick 40.
Yeovil (4-4-2): 1 Marek Stech (gk); 2 Luke Ayling (14 Sam Foley h-t), 4 Richard Hinds (22 Lewis Young h-t), 5 Byron Webster, 3 James McAllister (16 Nathan Ralph h-t); 7 Keanu Marsh-Brown (19 Chigozie Ugwu h-t), 8 Edward Upson (15 Aarron Downes h-t), 10 Gavin Williams, 6 Rohan Ince (17 Curtis Haynes-Brown 55); 9 James Hayter (23 Charlie Ware 87), 11 Reuben Reid (21 Tommy Smith 87). Substitutes (not used): 12 Gareth Stewart, Will Agbo.