THE Argyle Ladies impressive cup run came to an unlucky end at the hands of Newcastle United.The Pilgrims made the longest trip in English football to face the Magpies but despite a valiant effort, could not find their way into the next round.
Manager Kevin Rose took a full squad of 16 players on the marathon journey to the North East.
Thanks to some amazing fundraising efforts, the players and officials had the rare treat of luxury coach travel, normally reserved for professional teams, to make the journey more bearable.
In order that the match could go ahead on time, the Newcastle officials obtained special permission from the Football Association to play on a 3G artificial surface, as grass pitches in the area were waterlogged from recent melting snow.
In the side for here first start was Mollie Taylor at centre-back, whilst Natalie Volpini was welcomed back after a long injury lay-off.
The game began with a strong breeze blowing across the pitch with early exchanges tense as both teams got to grips with the conditions.
The first real chance came for the home side following a poor clearance from keeper Phillips, but their shot went harmlessly wide of the mark.
A few minutes later and it was Argyle's turn when Emily Mousley turned her defender inside the area to get a shot away, only for the home keeper to save down to her right.
Both teams were battling for supremacy, and it was the home side that drew first blood on 25 minutes when a ball in from an acute angle beat Michaela Phillips at her near post.
Argyle attacked down the right and Jodie Chubb had a shot saved following good work from Ellie Dorey on the wing.
Argyle had a further set back on the half hour when leading scorer Mousley sustained a knee injury and had to be replaced by Stephanie Beck.
They were stunned by a second home goal after Rebekah Rose was disposessed in the middle, only for the home player to blast the ball home from 25 yards giving Phillips no chance.
In another Argyle attack, Beck shot just over from the edge of the box.
Just before the break Rose made amends for her earlier error with a fine shot from distance to pull a goal back and get the visitors right back in the game.
Newcastle came out strongly in the second half only to be met with stern resistance from Argyle's young defenders.
No real chances were being created despite all the effort being put in.
In an Argyle attack, Jodie Chubb chased down a long ball and was in collision with the home keeper who needed some attention from the physio before she could continue.
The Pilgrims began to find some form and Dorey shot just over.
Probably Argyle's best moment came following a corner, when Rose saw her header cleared off the goal line.
Then it was Newcastle's turn to be disappointed when Argyles' Bow Jackson made a tremendous saving tackle as the forward was about to shoot.
With the game in the balance, Kev Rose made two changes, with Dorey replaced by Rachel Javan, and winger Chloe Bassett replaced by Sarah Stacey.
Then, in a final throw of the dice, centre-back Taylor was pushed up front in the search for an equaliser.
It was not to be however, but the girls can take some consolation from the fact that they pushed a Premier League side all the way and matched them blow for blow in a typical cup tie.
It was a weary group that arrived back at Home Park around midnight following their weekend 'up north'.
Managers' player of the match goes to Mollie Taylor whose assured display belied her tender years. Well done to her.
Words and photos thanks to Colin Fenn