Matt 21, Reid pen 31, Boyle og 42
Penn 52, Summerfield pen 86
by Rob McNichol
ARGYLE'S second win of the weekend took the Pilgrims back into Sky Bet League 2's top three - a perfect sweet treat to round off the Easter period.
A win over York City provided Pilgrims with a present that Joseph Rowntree, born within York's walls, could not have concocted on his best day.
It was not plain sailing, though. After Argyle sauntered into a 3-0 half-time lead, York came back into it after the break to score twice and leave Argyle sweating. Jamille Matt opened the scoring for Argyle, with his strike partner Reuben Reid doubling the lead from the spot. When Will Boyle scored an own-goal, matters looked well dealt with.
York hit back with a pen and a Penn. A penalty by Argyle old boy Luke Summerfield followed a splendid goal by Russell Penn in giving the Minstermen a lifeline - but Argyle held on.
Following the Pilgrims' 2-0 win at Morecambe on Good Friday, manager Derek Adams made just one change, and that was an enforced one. Oscar Threlkeld picked up a thigh strain at the Globe Arena that had not had sufficient time to heal over the Easter weekend. Jordan Forster, who had not even travelled to the north-west - a victim of the ruling that allows just five loanees in a match-day squad - returned to the side for his first appearance since departing the match at Barnet, four weeks previous, on a stretcher.
Notable names in York's side included Lewis Alessandra, who left Home Park in the summer for Rochdale, but recently headed to the Minstermen for a loan spell, and Luke Summerfield, another Argyle alumni.
Bradley Fewster had an early sighter - easily saved - for a York side playing a variation on a midfield diamond, but Argyle soon started to show the superiority the league table would indicate. At the base of York's diamond was Scot Bennett, possibly placed there with an eye on keeping tabs on Graham Carey, whose virtuoso performance at Bootham Crescent presumably had him down as a marked man in KitKat country.
Carey, though, lined up on the left, and a delivery of his that found Reuben Reid led to Argyle's first real chance. Reid's knock down came to Jordan Houghton, and it took some exceptional last-ditch defending to block his shot.
That kind of bodies-on-the-line defence will be needed by York as they battle the drop, and it came to the fore again when Matt outstripped Dave Winfield and bore down on Scott Flinders. The York goalkeeper did enough to stop Matt's initial effort, but he needed two of his defenders to commit at the right time as Reid followed up at pace.
York rallied, though, and worried Argyle with a fast break from a Pilgrims corner. Summerfield's high-quality cross on the run found Fewster at the far post, but his knock-down was shooed away by Argyle's rearguard.
City came again, and through another familiar face. Alessandra's first effort was no more than a half-chance, hit more in hope than anticipation from a tight angle, and was blocked away from a corner. He nearly got on the end of it with a header, then, from a follow-up corner when the ball was laid back to the anything-but-laid-back former Argyle forward, it took a great block by his old pal Curtis Nelson to stop Alessandra notching a goal in front of the Devonport End that used to adore him.
With the inclusion of the old returning player chestnut, York's flurry of energy looked to be a concern for Argyle, but just as City looked set to assert themselves, Argyle scored. Gary Sawyer overlapped Carey and, on receiving the ball, clipped into the middle. Winfield, retreating backwards, accidentally ran into Matt and fell to the ground as Reid jumped alongside Will Boyle. Neither got a telling head to it, but the ball fell to the now unmarked Matt, who took a touch to control and another to lash past Flinders from close range.
Summerfield was the first to show as York looked to hit back, showing a nifty turn of pace on the edge of the area. He tried to play in Fewster, but a hugely important touch from a lunging Forster diverted the ball just enough to make Fewster pause. By the time he did, and got the ball under his control, he was off balance, and clipped an easy effort into Luke McCormick's arms.
Forster showed up at the other end presently, receiving a ball laid back to him by Jake Jervis, and played a teasing far-post aerial ball. Reid attacked it; perhaps too strongly, as he headed over the bar.
Although a partnership only a little over 100 minutes old, Matt and Reid's understanding was looking strong. When Reid's flick round the corner was well-read by Matt, he curled a run to take hold of the ball in the area. Winfield then made a tackle, which, to many in our Press area perched high in the Grandstand, looked a fair enough challenge. However, perhaps uniquely in Sky Bet League 2, we have the benefit of replays from various angles, and our behind-the-goal shot showed that Winfield made no contact with the ball. After seeing that, we were able to concur with referee Dean Whitestone's decision to award Argyle their second penalty of the season.
The first of the season, scored by Ryan Brunt against Mansfield, was firmly struck home at the Barn Park end. By comparison, Reid's powerful strike made Brunty's effort was like a four-year-old mascot trickling one into and empty net. Everyone in the ground would have been taken aback by the power with which Reid finished - even a certain PA Wotton in the home dugout, who knows a thing or two about how to convert from 12 yards.
A second goal, as so often the case, settled the team in the lead and rather flattened the trailing side. Reid in particular looked content and relaxed trying to create a third, and York struggled to contain the rangy running style of Jervis. From a run that took down the majority of the right touchline, Jervis suckered Penn into a challenge that resembled a WWE-style clothesline more than a football tackle.
Carey took the right-wing free-kick and delivered into the six-yard box. A flustered Will Boyle - perhaps nicknamed 'The Unwatched Pot' - met the cross with a low header that flashed into the corner of his own goal. To be fair to Boyle, had he not tried to intervene, Peter Hartley was poised to knock the ball home anyway.
Even at half-time, the hits kept on coming. Former Pilgrim-of-the-year Krisztian Timar got a hero's reception when paraded as the interval guest, and all felt rosy in the kingdom.
Then, of course, York scored seven minutes into the second half and things got a little panicky. It was an excellent goal, it must be said. Michael Coulson patiently played with the ball on the angle of the penalty area, then shifted it back for his skipper, Penn, to lash home first time, through a crowd, from 20 yards.
Coulson really should have got York even closer to Argyle after he timed his run perfectly to receive Summerfield's through-ball, but his dink over the oncoming McCormick just trickled wide.
Adams' reaction was to bring on Hiram Boateng - you thought Timar got a hero's welcome? - for Reid and switch the system. McHugh provided the midfield fulcrum for Houghton and Boateng to play in more advanced, central roles, with Carey and Jervis in wide support of Matt.
It looked to pay instant dividends. Carey played a right-footed volley pass to Jervis which was simply out of this world - remind of it, please, when we do our 'Champagne Moments of the Season' - from which Jake went through and shot over the bar. Carey was next to go through, after Matt's intervention let him run clear, but Flinders did enough. He did so again seconds later as Boateng retrieved the situation and Carey flashed a dangerous one across the area.
By the time Craig Tanner and Gregg Wylde came on for Argyle with around ten minutes remaining, the Greens had regained control of the match - or so it seemed.
A York corner to the far post saw Forster the wrong side of Boyle, and as the Argyle man desperately attempted to regain his ground, he pulled his opponent to the deck. Another penalty was awarded, and York won the battle of the Lukes, as Summerfield blasted past McCormick.
Argyle nearly quelled the late nerves when Matt's diving header from Jervis's corner hit the bar, but York's offence during added time was nervy in the extreme.
A ball Argyle half-cleared three times fell to Penn, who also had a shot partially blocked. The referee then gave Argyle a free-kick after Forster - who has been missing with a facial injury, lest we forget - caught a boot in the face as substitute Vadaine Oliver attempted an overhead kick.
Forster was fine, but Penn was down for many minutes with what looked like a serious leg injury. We wish him well.
Argyle saw out the remaining injury time safely enough, and as Bringing On Back the Good Times rang around Home Park, so the heavens opened with a barrage of frozen rain.
A sign, we shall assume, of the world hailing Argyle's return to the league's promotion spots.
And there is a decent enough game next week, too. See you up the road.
Argyle (4-4-2): 23 Luke McCormick; 28 Jordon Forster, 5 Curtis Nelson (capt), 6 Peter Hartley, 3 Gary Sawyer; 14 Jake Jervis, 32 Jordan Houghton (27 Craig Tanner 80), 4 Carl McHugh, 10 Graham Carey (11 Gregg Wylde 81); 19 Jamille Matt, 9 Reuben Reid (20 Hiram Boateng 62). Substitutes (not used): 2 Kelvin Mellor, 8 Josh Simpson, 16 Ben Purrington, 31 Vincent Dorel (gk).
Booked: Forster 86.
York (4-1-3-2): 1 Scott Flinders; 27 Luke Hendrie, 16 Dave Winfield, 31 Will Boyle, 3 Femi Ilesanmil; 5 Scot Bennett (12 Derek Riordan 88); 10 Russell Penn (capt, 4 James Berrett 90), 8 Luke Summerfield, 7 Michael Coulson; 26 Lewis Alessandra, 32 Bradley Fewster (9 Vadaine Oliver 60). Substitutes (not used): 23 Matty Dixon, 24 Michael Ingham (gk), 33 Kenny McEvoy, 37 Danny Galbraith.
Booked: Fewster 45.
Referee: Dean Whitestone.
Attendance: 8,571 (108 away).