Reid 6 pen, 30, Alessandra 21
by Rob McNichol
ARGYLE forwards Reuben Reid and Lewis Alessandra are at your service.
On a day where two great forces cities came together to honour the serving and the fallen, Argyle’s front pairing fired a three-goal salvo between them before the half-hour mark to wrap a seventh successive home win for the Pilgrims.
Reid converted a penalty – won by Alessandra – after just sixth minutes, before Alessandra doubled the scoreline 15 minutes later.
On the half-hour mark Reid got his second – and tenth of the season – and Argyle were out of sight.
Argyle manager John Sheridan had made one change from the line-up that started at Coventry a little over two-and-a-half-days previous, bringing in the fit-again Kelvin Mellor for Deane Smalley, and shifting Anthony O’Connor back into midfield.
After a moving pre-match, including a performance from the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, a minute’s silence and an impressive fans’ display, the matter of the football began.
Argyle started the brighter of the two sides, and were rewarded for being bright of eye and bushy of tail when they were awarded a penalty just over five minutes into the game.
Lewis Alessandra was afforded a great deal of space in the penalty area, and as he advanced, went down under a challenge from Nicky Shorey. Referee Andy Madley decided that contact was sufficient for him to point to the spot.
Reid stepped up to the penalty mark, and struck a typically confident spot kick high and right, whereas goalkeeper Paul Jones went low and left.
Portsmouth, determined not to meekly surrender on a big stage, looked to hit back, with Ricky Holmes first popping up in a good area on the right before making a mess of the finish, then sending in a terrific cross from the other flank that Anthony O’Connor did superbly to hook out of the danger zone.
On 20 minutes, though, Argyle doubled their lead, exploiting another gaping hole left by Portsmouth on the left side of their defence.
Reid peeled wide on the right, and in dragging a defender with him, was able to slip through the advancing Mellor. The wing-back cut inside and presented the ball to Alessandra, who clipped into the bottom corner. The finish was so good that the consensus in the Home Park press box was that the ball must have taken a deflection en route to the goal. It was only after several replays that Lewi was afforded the credit he deserve for such a cool conversion.
Portsmouth looked extremely rattled, and Argyle had a chance to make it three only a few minutes later. A left-wing corner pinballed in the area, falling to Curtis Nelson, whose shot was well blocked.
Before the half-hour, though, it was three. Argyle patiently kept the ball for an extended period, with Lee Cox eventually spreading play to Mellor. Full of confidence, Mellor drove into the area, committed three Pompey defenders, and slid the ball back to Reid.
Although Mellor’s run and lay-off was impressive, Reid still had plenty to do, but his finish from about twelve yards was impeccable, going beyond the reach of Jones and striking the inside the post before nestling in the net.
To call Pompey demoralised would be an understatement. Argyle continued forward in green waves. Andy Kellett zipped beyond the visitors to reach a good area before his shot was deflected wide, then O’Connor made Jones work with a shot from the edge of the area.
It was perhaps a surprise that Portsmouth lined up in the second half with the same eleven that they started the game with, such was the level of Argyle dominance in the first period.
There was a far greatest sense of parity – although not on the scoresheet – between the sides at the beginning of the second half, as Portsmouth enjoyed a greater share of the possession of the ball, but in truth little was done to trouble Luke McCormick.
On the hour, Andy Awford introduced Ryan Taylor and Dan Butler to freshen up Pompey’s options. Taylor got his head on a cross by Alex Wynter, which then deflected to Holmes. The winger’s dipping effort was not too far over the bar, although McCormick looked unperturbed by it.
Reid’s afternoon ended on 67 minutes, with Deane Smalley entering the fray.
Argyle’s attacks were by no means as frequent as in the first 45 – but then they did not need to be. When they came, however, they came with severe threat.
Lee Cox, who is yet to score for Argyle, came close to breaking his green duck, struck the crossbar with a dipping effort from twenty yards, before Deane Smalley evaded everyone to bear down on Jones, who made a good save from close range when Smalley looked a certain scorer.
Jones again stopped the Argyle sub when he turned Smalley’s effort from an angle onto the near post, the forward having been released by a glorious piece of work by the faultless Curtis Nelson.
Portsmouth showed willing, with Hollands having two efforts – one pouched by McCormick, the other drifting wide – but Argyle were in cruise control.
Another home victory, another clean sheet, another dominant performance, and due deference paid to the real heroes of the world.
You’re welcome, Sky.
: 23 Luke McCormick; 5 Curtis Nelson (capt), 16 Carl McHugh, 29 Peter Hartley; 2 Kelvin Mellor, 4 Lee Cox (14 Tyler Harvey 83), 28 Anthony O’Connor, 11 Dominic Blizzard, 13 Andy Kellett; 9 Reuben Reid (22 Deane Smalley 67), 7 Lewis Alessandra (10 Marvin Morgan 87). Substitutes (not used)
: 1 James Bittner, 6 Ollie Norburn, 19 Nathan Thomas, 24 River Allen.
(4-3-3): 1 Paul Jones; 15 Alex Wynter, 5 Joe Devera, 6 Ben Chorley (capt), 17 Nicky Shorey (34 Dan Butler 60) ; 24 Nick Awford (9 Ryan Taylor 60), 29 Danny Hollands, 3 Jack Whatmough (25 Nigel Atangana 73); 8 Jed Wallace, 14 Miles Storey, 11 Ricky Holmes. Substitutes
(not used): 20 Craig Westcarr, 22 Michael Poke (gk), 26 Bradley Tarbuck, 33 Ben Close.
Referee: Andy Madley.
Attendance: 10,354 (1,243 away).