Tiverton Town 1
Young 48, Purse 90
THE final game of Argyle’s pre-season Westcountry roadshow ended in narrow late victory at Ladysmead after a whole-hearted encounter which should have added another layer of sharpness to the Pilgrims’ preparations.
The home side took the lead with pretty well their only shot on target, from Jules Emati-Emati 15 minutes from the interval.
However, in a game in which Argyle manager Carl Fletcher again used pretty well every available member of his first-team squad, Luke Young levelled in the 48th minute.
As things seemed to be ebbing to an honourable draw, skipper Darren Purse hooked home a loose ball following an injury-time corner to earn the Pilgrims a third successive win.
Fletcher had tweaked his starting XI in formation and personnel, starting with a 4-3-3 line-up in which Conor Hourihane anchored the midfield alongside Ladjie Soukouna and Jared Sims.
Nick Chadwick led the forward line, supported by trialist Andre Gurrieri and Matt Lecointe, while Jake Cole prevailed in the continuing pre-season game of musical goalkeepers.
In the absence of the injured Durrell Berry and Jamie Lowry, Curtis Nelson started at right-back, while there was also no sign of Maxime Blanchard, who had suffered a rib problem at Weston-super-Mare in the Pilgrims’ previous game last week.
Tiverton, managed by ex-Green Mark Saunders, were captained by former Home Park apprentice Paul Kendall, and included another former Pilgrim, goalkeeper Ryan Draper, in their squad.
Argyle resumed where they had left off at Weston-super-Mare the previous Friday, taking the game to their non-league opponents.
They went close to opening the scoring on several occasions, most notably when Chadwick headed a right-wing cross narrowly wide, and then when Yellows’ goalkeeper Chris Wright dived low to keep out Hourihane’s low drive.
Such was the Pilgrims’ dominance that it came as a shock when their Evo-Stik Southern League South & West hosts took the lead just after half an hour, Jules Emati-Emati shooting home following a penalty-area scramble.
Argyle reasserted themselves almost immediately, but were dealt a blow when Soukona was shouldered to the dressing-room by physio Paul Atkinson after taking a tumble in the Tivvy penalty area.
Only Darren Purse and Gurrieri retained their outfield positions after the break, although Robbie Williams and Nelson remained in a defence already stretched by the three injuries.
The Pilgrims were soon back on terms, when Young continued his impressive pre-season by firing home off the crossbar after a picture-book build-up.
As the game opened up, Tiverton sensed there might be more to be gained by attacking a little more and went close to re-taking the lead when Harry Nodwell delightfully worked an opening for himself before firing wide across Cole’s goal.
The closeness of the game contributed to a competitiveness rare for such occasions, and the referee found cause to talk to Emati-Emati and Purse after an irresistible force versus immovable object encounter.
Despite the spirited play from both sides, neither could quite forge an opening from which to settle the match until the captain’s late, late intervention.
Tiverton Town (4-4-2): 1 Chris Wright (13 Ryan Draper 88); 2 Josh Concanen, 6 Tom Gardner, 5 Paul Kendall (capt, 16 Adam Faux 84), 3 Lewis Tasker; 7 Andy Taylor (18 Luke Passmore 82), 4 Kevin Hill (14 Russell Jee 58), 8 Harry Nodwell (12 David Steele 75), 9 Liam Ellis (17 Alex Faux 58); 10 Joe Bushin (15 Owen Howe 69), 11 Jules Emati-Emati.
Argyle first half (4-3-3): 1 Jake Cole; 17 Curtis Nelson, 5 Darren Purse (capt), 23 Jamie Richards, 3 Robbie Williams; 22 Jared Sims, 6 Conor Hourihane, 18 Ladjie Soukouna (24 Jordan Copp 43); 21 Matt Lecointe, 9 Nick Chadwick, 27 Andre Gurrieri.
Argyle second half (4-3-3): 1 Jake Cole; 3 Robbie Williams, 5 Darren Purse (capt), 17 Curtis Nelson, 14 Onismor Bhasera; 8 Luke Young, 15 Paul Wotton, 27 Andre Gurrieri (24 Jordan Copp 80); 7 Paris Cowan-Hall, 11 Warren Feeney, 19 Joe Lennox.
Referee: Andrew Bennett.