Tiverton 0 Argyle 1
Tiverton Town 0
IN temperatures that made simply walking difficult Argyle’s players easily fulfilled manager John Sheridan’s main aim of getting some match-fitness into their lungs and legs.
The secondary aim of maintaining a winning start to pre-season, imbuing some confidence for when the heat is really on, was also achieved.
Out-of-contract striker Warren Feeney scored the winning goal, five minutes after being introduced as one of nine half-time substitutes at Ladysmead.
Northern Ireland international Feeney unfortunately spent all but a few minutes of John Sheridan’s 19 games as manager last season injured and is trying to win a new deal, so will have done his prospects of that no harm.
Sheridan had called up two Ryans – both of Cornish heritage – for the Pilgrims’ second pre-season match, at Tiverton Town.
Ryan Dickson, 26, who started his career at Home Park and who is currently without a club after being released by Premier League Southampton, and Ryan Lane, 16, a fellow left-sided player with defensive and attacking capabilities, were drafted in to a 20-man squad for Ladysmead.
Lane, who is in the first year of a two-year apprenticeship, is from Looe and another of the Ivybridge Community College alumni with a gift for delivering a mean dead ball.
The match-day squad differed little from the one that had been on duty at Elburton Villa five days previously, with new signing Lewis Alessandra still injured on the sidelines alongside Andres Gurrieri, Guy Branston and Nick Chadwick.
Trialist Martin John again featured, but Finnish international Tuomas Rannankari was absent after his Home Park trial ended in agony when he injured a thigh in the 3-0 victory at Villa.
Dickson started both halves as Sheridan fielded a more or less entirely different 11 each side of the interval, although the manager tried two formations: 4-4-2 in the first; 3-5-2 in the second.
The Tiverton starting line-up included several with Home Park connections: defender Matt Villlis and midfielder Marcus Martin came this close to making it, as did Bobby Hopkinson, who now works for the club’s Football in the Community Trust.
Bobby was on the substitutes’ bench for the beginning of the game, alongside another once promising Argyle junior, Sam Malsom.
Villis had his work cut out to contain the Pilgrims’ first-half front pairing of Marvin Morgan and Reuben Reid who, you suspect, are going to be a handful for many a centre-back in the next 10 months.
Morgan went close twice in the opening quarter, heading just wide after beating Tivvy keeper Dan Law to a skewed defensive pass, and then shooting over on the angle.
Reid showed good strength to hold off his marker and shoot on the spin, his low attempt sliding wide of the target.
The best chance of the half came in the final few minutes, when Morgan tricksed his way through the centre of the defence only to lose his footing as he shot, and that allowed Law to make a save.
That was followed by a Dickson drive that flashed wide with the impressive Law this time well beaten before the welcome sound of the referee’s whistle signalling half-time.
The break saw myriad changes to both teams and Argyle’s refreshed XI – with Paul Wotton, Max Blanchard and Jamie Richards as the three-man back line – soon took the lead.
It came when Feeney finished off a quick end-to-end move with the sort of determined opportunistic strike that has served him well throughout his career.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between after that, with the work-out remaining more important than the outcome as Argyle completed another 90 minutes of preparation towards August 3.
Tiverton Town (4-5-1): 1 Dan Law; 2 Josh Concanen, 4 John Heveran, 5 Matt Villis, 3 Chris Long; 10 Alex Gray, 8 Nick Rudge, 6 Shane Krac, 7 Marcus Martin, 11 Josh Searle; 9 Matt Wright. Substitutes (used): Bobby Hopkinson, Tom Gardner, Chris Wright, Adam Kelly, Sam Malsom, Adam Carter.
Argyle (first half, 4-4-2): 23 Luke McCormick; 2 Durrell Berry, 5 Curtis Nelson, 6 Martin John, 3 Ryan Dickson; 7 Isaac Vassell, 22 Dominic Blizzrd, 8 Conor Hourihane (captain), 11 Ben Purrington; 9 Reuben Reid, 10 Marvin Morgan.
Argyle (second half, 3-5-2): 1 Jake Cole; 5 Maxime Blanchard, 15 Paul Wotton, 16 Jamie Richards; 7 Isaac Vassell, 17 River Allen, 4 Luke Young, 18 Matt Lecointe, 3 Ryan Dickson (Ryan Lane); 19 Warren Feeney, 20 Tyler Harvey.
Photos by Dave Rowntree, sponsored by the 50-50 Lottery