A VERY young Argyle side went down 2-1 to Californian side Strikers South Coast in their opening Milk Cup under-15’s game.The match was the first in the competition to be played at the plush new complex in Clough, Ballymena and finished in torrential rain and a really horrific thunderstorm.
Both sets of players did well to continue to try and play football in the worsening conditions but it was the Americans who were celebrating at the final whistle while the young Pilgrims were left to reflect on what could have been.
Strikers came close to taking a seventh minute lead when Pablo Arriaga’s blistering free kick crashed down off Jordan Stidson’s crossbar for Giovanni Garci to head the rebound wide of an empty net.
Argyle hit back, a minute later, to take the lead when a short corner routine found Jake Miller crashing in a low shot that was cleared off the line. Fullback Jordan Bentley came racing in for the rebound and fired the ball past the covering defenders and into the back of the net from eight yards.
Argyle should have added a second inside four minutes but Oliver Gardner headed Miller’s right wing corner well over the Striker’s bar from 10 yards.
Strikers made the most of that escape as Trevor Allen beat Stidson to a ball over the top to lob it in to an unguarded net and level the scores on 15 minutes.
The Americans were now in full cry and only a superb last ditch challenge by Gardner denied Simon le Kressnel when the Strikers front runner looked favourite to score.
Argyle did not learn from that incident and Strikers took the lead, a minute before the break, as substitute Allen Moiseyev’s challenge on Stidson rebounded to Garcia who was left with the simple task of guiding the ball over the line.
It could have been worse for Argyle but for Stidson making a fine reflex save from Kevin Pizarro’s close range volley and the Pilgrim’s ‘keeper was called upon again, in the opening minutes of the second half, as he raced out of his goal to deny le Kressnel as he burst clear.
Argyle were finding it hard to make any impression on their opponents defence and the closest they came was when Alex Fletcher’s first time effort curled just wide from 20 yards.
In fact it was Strikers who came the closest to scoring again but Stidson pulled out a fine save to deny Moiseyev.
Argyle: Jordan Stidson, Jordan Bentley, Jack Calver (Henry Wilson 40), Oliver Gardner, Daniel Rooney, Dario Pisano (Sam Morgan 52), Alex Fletcher, Jake Mill, Jason Vincent (Jamil Roberts 40), Alex Battle, Sam Ryan (Tyler Tonkin 52).