Saturday 23rd December 2023
Plymouth Argyle FC
Birmingham City FC
- Days
- Hrs
- Mins
- Secs
Full Time - 104
Home Park
Match Details
Morgan Whittaker celebrates scoring against Birmingham City

Argyle 3
Edwards 44
Roberts o.g. 69
Whittaker 87

Birmingham City 3
Stansfield 16
James 39
Bacuna 62

A turbulent week at Home Park concluded with a fantastic festive clash against Birmingham City.

The Blues raced into a two-goal lead with strikes from Jay Stansfield and Jordan James, but the pattern shifted when skipper Joe Edwards pulled one back just before half-time.

Birmingham were reduced to ten men immediately after the restart, Krystian Bielik shown a straight red, but the visitors still extended their lead through Juninho Bacuna.

Back came the Pilgrims, reducing the arrears after an own goal from Marc Roberts and Morgan Whittaker popped up with a late leveller.

Under the guidance of Director of Football Neil Dewsnip and First-Team Coach Kevin Nancekivell, following the departure of Steven Schumacher, Argyle made two changes from the win over Rotherham, Ben Waine and Brendan Galloway replacing Ryan Hardie and Mickel Miller.

A pulsating game opened with Edwards driving into the penalty area and fizzing a cross aimed at Waine, which only just eluded the intended recipient. A super atmosphere inside Home Park quelled a little with a nasty collision between two Birmingham players, Stansfield and Lee Buchanan, with the latter forced off the pitch.

After a long delay for the ‘concussion protocol’ substitute, the game resumed with Jordan Houghton and Bali Mumba combining in midfield. The move flowed forward through Luke Cundle, Finn Azaz and Whittaker but was ended by an awkward challenge in the box, penalty claims waved away.

Stansfield gave a demonstration of his sharpness with a swift cross to Siriki Dembele, who saw his effort deflected wide. Unfortunately, the subsequent corner was nodded in by Stansfield for the opening goal.

A brilliant goal-saving tackle kept Argyle’s deficit down to one and it was almost level when Whittaker curled a sweet effort narrowly wide of the post. Stansfield replied with a near-post drive saved by Conor Hazard.

The Greens produced a lovely flowing move ten minutes from the break but Waine’s final shot was blocked by Dion Sanderson, and Birmingham went up the other end to double their lead, James converting from close range after a Dembele cross.

Argyle immediately responded with the goal their attacking work deserved, Waine hurrying the Blues at the back and Edwards joined the hustle to pinch the ball before forcing a finish past the advancing John Ruddy.

Eight minutes of stoppage time yielded two good saves from Ruddy, denying Julio Pleguzuelo and Whittaker, and the second half was only three minutes old when Bielik was shown a straight red card for a poor challenge on Houghton.

Home Park was bouncing, as Whittaker sent another trademark curler narrowly wide, and there was a freshening of the troops with Kaine Kesler-Hayden replacing Edwards. A whipped free-kick from Whittaker was well held by Ruddy, quickly followed by a delicious cross from Houghton that somehow evaded the onrushing forwards.

Argyle were pressing forward in search of a leveller but the Blues then struck on the counter, Stansfield again causing problems with his pace and penetration, and the cutback was perfect for Bacuna to fire past Hazard.

Miller and Adam Randell replaced Cundle and Galloway before a fabulous game soon took another twist, Waine heaping the pressure on Roberts from a driven low cross by Miller and the Birmingham defender was unable to prevent the ball going over his own line.

Kesler-Hayden was next to test Ruddy, as a barnstorming game continued to provide terrific entertainment. Azaz, who had also forced good work from Ruddy, then fired wide from the right edge of the penalty area.

A thrilling Christmas feast unwrapped one more present two minutes from time, Whittaker profiting from good work by Azaz and Houghton to lash a delightful finish beyond Ruddy, sending the Green Army into raptures.

Callum Wright and Freddie Issaka replaced Mumba and Waine for the final stages. The Pilgrims kept knocking on the door, Whittaker executing a lovely cutback to Houghton but the Blues cleared off the line.

A great game provided six goals and a great way for Argyle to say Merry Christmas to the Green Army.

Argyle: 21 Conor Hazard; 2 Bali Mumba (11 Callum Wright 88), 4 Jordan Houghton, 5 Julio Pleguezuelo, 8 Joe Edwards (capt) (29 Kaine Kesler-Hayden 53), 10 Morgan Whittaker, 17 Lewis Gibson, 18 Finn Azaz, 22 Brendan Galloway (14 Mickel Miller 68), 23 Ben Waine (35 Freddie Issaka 88), 28 Luke Cundle (20 Adam Randell 68). Substitutes (not used): 25 Callum Burton (gk), 3 Macaulay Gillesphey, 7 Matt Butcher, 19 Tyreik Wright.

Booked: Edwards 26, Randell 90

Birmingham: 21 John Ruddy; 3 Lee Buchanan (23 Emmanuel Longelo 10), 4 Marc Roberts, 5 Dion Sanderson (capt), 6 Krystian Bielik, 7 Juninho Bacuna (11 Koji Miyoshi 83), 17 Siriki Dembele (10 Lukas Jutkiewicz 75), 19 Jordan James, 28 Jay Stansfield (45 Oliver Burke 66), 34 Ivan Sunjic, 44 Emanuel Aiwu. Substitutes (not used): 1 Neil Etheridge (gk), 8 Tyler Roberts, 9 Scott Hogan, 20 Gary Gardner, 24 Marcel Oakley.

Booked: Stansfield 16, Longelo 60, James 70, Miyoshi 88

Sent Off: Bielik 48

Referee: Graham Scott

Attendance: 16,589 (1,645 away)