Report: Argyle 1 MK Dons 1

Argyle 1
Lane 79

MK Dons 1
Powell 86

“EVEN when he first came and trained with the first team, I liked the look of him,” said Argyle manager John Sheridan of Ryan Lane after the Pilgrims’ draw at Bath City last Tuesday.

Well, one thing is for sure, Sheridan will not be the only one to rate young Ryan's ability after this respectable 1-1 draw with Milton Keynes Dons.

Sixteen year-old Lane, playing at Home Park in the first-team for the first time, entered the play as a second-half substitute and just 14 minutes later had scored an audacious goal to give the Pilgrims the lead.

Although Argyle were eventually pegged back through Daniel Powell, Lane’s incredible solo effort capped a good performance by the Pilgrims against their League One opposition.

Comfortable in possession, good going forward and at times assured at the back, Argyle matched the Dons pass for pass on a glorious summers afternoon at Home Park.

Yeovil Town of the SkyBet Championship are now the only thing that stand in the way of the Pilgrims and that start of the season for real.

Sheridan handed a taste of Home Park to all of his summer signings in this, the first pre-season friendly against league opposition.

Marvin Morgan, Dominic Blizzard, Lewis Alessandra and Romuald Boco were all included in the starting line-up, along with Reuben Reid and Luke McCormick, for whom the Theatre of Greens was a more familiar environment.

One name in particular stood out on the MK Dons teamsheet as Jason Banton, the man whose goals had gone a long way to ensuring the Pilgrims’ Football League survival, started for his new club for the first time.

Having taken a few minutes to find their touch, the Pilgrims made their first assault on the MK goal after five minutes, when Alessandra’s fine flick was smashed across the goal by Reid, forcing visiting ‘keeper David Martin in a low save to his right.

Dean Lewington made it one chance each just two minutes later, though, when with McCormick beaten, Curtis Nelson was forced to hack away the Dons’ captain’s low drive from the edge of the box.

Although still in the early stages of the game, Reid was fast becoming one of the Pilgrims’ main protagonists and was unlucky not to be rewarded for a deadly pin-point cross that Boco nodded into the side netting.

Boco had a chance to make amends soon after, though and might have done had Blanchard not nodded the Benin international’s cushioned header onto Martin’s crossbar.

McCormick has called into action for the first time just shy of the half-hour mark when at point blank range, he tipped Daniel Powell’s fierce effort over the bar.

Then, as half-time crept up, McCormick saved Argyle again, this time with a full-stretch, diving save to deny former Manchester United striker Alan Smith who had beaten the offside trap and to run at Luke’s goal.

That save was to be McCormick’s last action of the afternoon when at half-time, he was replaced by Jake Cole.

If Smith was pleased to see the back of Luke, then he had a rude awakening shortly after the restart when Cole tipped his shot from the corner of the six yard box wide of the post.

But Martin in the MK Dons goal was not to be out done when, on the very next play, he stopped a thunderous effort from Reid at point-blank range.

With 25 minutes remaining, Sheridan opted for a flurry or changes and in a quintuple substitution, introduced Ben Purrington, Isaac Vassell, Tyler Harvey, Ryan Lane and Luke Young.

Harvey, a goalscorer from the spot in a development match at Truro last week, made an immediate impact, running at Lee Hodson before picking out Young in on the edge of the area.

Young, with his first touch of the game, brought down his team-mate’s pass well, took a touch before unleashing from 18 yards into the hands of Martin.

Vassell was the next to cause mischief as he turned on the burners to beat his man and force Martin into a low save at his near post.

Just a few minutes later, Martin was eventually beaten and my, oh my, in what style by first-year apprentice Lane.

Picking up the ball 30 yards from goal, the 16 year-old spotted the MK custodian off his line and produced an incredible first-time lob to put the Pilgrims in front.

Having been wounded, and in such style,  the Dons hit back straight away and were no doubt as shocked as anyone to see Durrell Berry clear a goalbound effort off the line when it seemed destined to hit the back of the net.

But from the resultant corner, they finally scored when a fortunate Powell found possession in the middle of the area and toe poked home.

A good performance on a baking hot afternoon. Job done.

Argyle (4-4-2): 23 Luke McCormick (1 Jake Cole h-t); 3 Curtis Nelson, 5 Paul Wotton (18 Ben Purrington 65), 8 Maxime Blanchard, 2 Durrell Berry; 7 Lewis Alessandra (17 Isaac Vassell 65), 4 Dominic Blizzard, 6 Conor Hourihane (capt) (14 Luke Young 65), 11 Romuald Boco (16 Jamie Richards 68); 9 Reuben Reid (15 Tyler Harvey 65), 10 Marvin Morgan (19 Ryan Lane 65).

MK Dons (4-5-1): 1 David Martin; 5 Lee Hodson (18 George Baldock , 24 Antony Kay (4 Tom Flanagan 26), 6 Shaun Williams, 3 Dean Lewington; 8 Darren Potter, 7 Stephen Gleeson, 21 Jason Banton (14 Dele Alli 73), 10 Luke Chadwick (12 Ben Reeves 73), 17 Daniel Powell; 11 Alan Smith (13 Izale McLeod 73).

Substitutes (not used): 16 Ian McLoughlin (gk).

Referee: Lee Swabey.

Attendance: 1,686 (41 away)