ARGYLE booked their place in the St Luke’s Cup final with a comfortable victory over Exeter City at Home Park.Tyler Harvey scored the game’s only goal in the 71st minute but the final result never look in doubt as Argyle comfortably dealt with a City team made up of mostly academy players.
With Colin Watson and Aaron Bentley the only non-professionals in the Argyle starting XI, it was clear from the off that the Pilgrims were going to have an advantage of their younger and physically inferior opponents.
In fact, it took them less than three minutes to first trouble the Grecians’ defence when Matt Lecointe muscled his way to the edge of penalty area before shooting just wide.
Then, ten minutes later, Ronan Murray tested teenage ‘keeper Chrstie Pym from 25 yards with a swerving drive.
An injury to apprentice defender Aaron Bentley then prompted a switch around, with River Allen entering the fray at eight-back, forcing Durrell Berry into central defence.
What the young Exeter side lack in presence, they certainly made up for it tempo and work rate and for and by the half hour mark, began to carve out some opportunities for themselves when James Bryne forced a good retreating save from Rene Gilmartin.
Paris Cowan-Hall then headed a Murray free-kick wide before Tyler Harvey snatched his half-volley inches adrift on the post.
With the scores still level at the break, Argyle turned up the gas as soon as the second period began and perhaps should have gone ahead when Nick Chadwick’s perfectly weighted pass was scuffed by Harvey.
Harvey was guilty of fluffing his lines just minutes later, too, when he inexplicable sent Murray’s low into the empty stand from ten yards.
City’s Ollie Watkins then earned his side’s first chance of the half by losing Watson down the right flank and working Gilmartin from ten yards.
With the game in the balance, Isaac Vassell and Josh Hutchinson were introduced to the fray just after the hour, forcing Chadwick into a rather unorthodox centre-half position.
However strange the switch seemed to look, it certainly paid off when just eight minutes later, Harvey headed the Pilgrims ahead.
Harvey will of course take the credit for an exquisite finish, but praise must be given to Jared Sims, whose perfectly placed looping pass came right down on top of his young team-mate’s head to allow Tyler to flick it around the advancing Pym.
Further Argyle chances game and went before the inevitable later Grecians’ pressure.
But the Pilgrims stood strong to record their second victory over their arch-rivals in the space of just ten days.
Torquay await in the final on a date yet to be arranged.
Argyle (4-4-2): 1 Rene Gilmartin; 2 Durrell Berry (12 Isaac Vassell 63), 4 Aaron Bentley (14 River Allen 23), 5 Anthony Charles (16 Josh Hutchinson 63), 3 Colin Watson; 7 Paris Cowan-Hall, 6 Jared Sims, 8 Matt Lecointe, 11 Ronan Murray; 9 Nick Chadwick, 10 Tyler Harvey.
Substitutes (not used): 13 Ollie Chenoweth, 15 Kieran Asumadu-Sakyi.