Slew 51, Jervis 59, Bulvitis 70, Tanner 90
Newport County 1
by Haden Tye
ARGYLE fought back from a goal down to win their opening Checkatrade Trophy game with a deserved 4-1 victory over Newport County.
The Pilgrims' Welsh counterparts gave Argyle a scare when they took the lead through Jordan Green at the Theatre of Greens, but despite the Exiles defending deep to hold their lead, the Pilgrims eventually had too much for the visitors, and eased past their opponents to be worthy winners.
Second half goals by Jordan Slew, Jake Jervis, Nauris Bulvitis and Craig Tanner gave Argyle not only the three points in this group stage encounter, but a healthy goal difference a third of the way through it.
Argyle manager Derek Adams made seven changes from the side that won at Blackpool, with Jervis, Bulvitus, Connor Smith and Sonny Bradley the only players to keep their place in an experimental Argyle side.
After an uneventful opening to the game, the visitors took the lead. With just under twenty minutes on the clock, Jennison Myrie-Williams whipped a low cross from the left of the Argyle box that evaded everyone until it was met by the oncoming Green who side-footed his shot into the Argyle net. Green's strike ended a streak of 262 minutes without conceding for the Pilgrims.
Argyle mounted some pressure in response, as Slew had a shot blocked that ran for a corner, which resulted in David Fox firing wide from a volley inside the box. Slew looked lively for the Pilgrims and fizzed a shot at Joe Day which the Newport goalkeeper pushed wide for another Argyle corner. Moments later, Slew had another effort from the left-hand side of the box that he fired narrowly over the bar.
The Pilgrims were banging on the Newport door, with Tanner coming close with a long range effort, and David Goodwillie hitting a venomous ball across the face of the Newport goal. An under-hit pass back to Paul Bignot resulted in the former Pilgrim crunching Tanner on the edge of their box, earning himself a booking. The following free-kick could only find the wall, though.
After a nice Argyle move, a Fox effort was deflected wide for another Argyle corner. The Pilgrims continue to push, but Newport remained resilient until half-time, defending deep into their half, and rarely getting out of it. Newport did get out their half in the second-half, leading to a foul from Fox. That allowed Jack Compton to curl a free-kick from range at the Argyle goal, but his shot went narrowly wide.
The next time the Pilgrims were in the Exiles half however, they made it count. Tanner lofted a cross into the box from the right, and Slew rose the highest to place his header into the right of the Newport net for a well-deserved equaliser.
The Pilgrims could smell blood. Shortly after Goodwillie had multiple strikes on goal, his first being blocked and the second being tipped over the bar by Day in the Newport goal.
Still the Pilgrims pushed. Slew picked up the ball on the left, and ran at the Newport defence. The Argyle number eight slipped a through ball to Jake Jervis, who instinctively hit a shot on the half-turn for Argyle's second, putting the Pilgrims in front.
Hard work from Goodwillie earned the Pilgrims a free-kick from the right, which Fox launched into the box. Bradley met the cross with his head, but his header was going way-ward. Fortunately, Bulvitus was at the back-post to turn the ball home for Argyle's third.
It should have been four for the Pilgrims with just over ten minutes to go. Goodwillie fired a strike at the Newport goal which was blocked, with the deflection finding Slew. The Argyle striker already had a goal to his name and hit a shot with just as much conviction as Goodwillie. The legs of Day in the Exiles goal saved his effort, only for the rebound to fall to Ryan Donaldson who hit over when under pressure from close range.
Argyle's dominance continued, with the result pretty much a foregone conclusion. A cross fell to Fox on the edge of the box, who rifled a strong effort but was palmed away by Day, and then scrambled away by the Newport rear guard, despite the advancing Donaldson.
Just as the cheers where circulating Home Park every time that the Pilgrims touched the ball, Donaldson flicked a lovely pass into Goodwillie's path. The Scotsman controlled the ball, and tricked past his defender, one way and then another, before crossing into the box. Day flapped at the cross, and Tanner stroked the rebound into the net to round off a successful evening for the Pilgrims.
Argyle (4-2-3-1): 21 Vincent Dorel (25 Marc McCallum 81); 2 Gary Miller (capt), 5 Nauris Bulvitis, 15 Sonny Bradley, 16 Ben Purrington; 6 Connor Smith (22 David Ijaha 61), 24 David Fox; 8 Jordan Slew, 27 Craig Tanner, 14 Jake Jervis (11 Ryan Donaldson 70); 7 David Goodwillie. Substitutes (not used): 4 Yann Songo'o, 9 Jimmy Spencer, 10 Graham Carey, 18 Oscar Threlkeld.
Newport County (4-2-3-1): 1 Joe Day; 14 Paul Bignot, 21 Liam Angel, 17 Scot Bennett (capt) (3 Dan Butler 66), 2 Jazzi Barnum-Bobb; 12 Ben Tozer, 7 Jack Compton (27 Sean Rigg 74); 15 Jordan Green, 20 Tom Owen-Evans, 11 Jennison Myrie-Williams; 9 Jon Parkin (13 Marlon Jackson 58). Substitutes (not used): 4 Darren Jones, 6 Joss Labadie, 24 Dafydd Jones, 30 James Bittner (gk).
Booked: Bignot 34.
Referee: Andy Davies.
Attendance: 2,349 (89 away).