FA Youth Cup, first roundArgyle 4
Purrington 31, Wheatley 33, 57, 70
Bristol Academy 1
SOLOMON Wheatley netted a Home Park hat-trick as Argyle’s youngsters picked up the Pilgrims’ first team’s winning habit by easing into the second round of the FA Youth Cup.
Skipper Ben Purrington appropriately led the way against their Filton College-based opponents, scoring the opening goal after half-an-hour on Guy Fawkes Night.
The eye-catching Wheatley then provided the match’s fireworks. He immediately added a second to effectively end the outplayed young Bristolians’ previously grim resistance, then added a second of his own 12 minutes after half-time, and completed his triple midway through the second period.
Argyle dominated the opening half, alternately attacking with purpose down both flanks and toying with their opponents by playing quality keep-ball.
Louis Rooney was denied from putting the Pilgrims ahead midway through the half only by a fine instinctive save from Academy goalkeeper Connor Cable, who reacted smartly to the well-placed shot following Wheatley’s flicked pass.
Aaron Bentley had already headed a corner wide by that stage, and the Pilgrims’ dominance of set-plays continued when Nathan Summers met another flag-kick but got more shoulder on it than head.
Any concerns that the missed opportunities might prove costly were allayed inside two minutes just after the half-hour mark.
First, Purrington ran in to prod home River Allen’s well-timed and sweetly struck free-kick from close range, beating two eager team-mates to a fine delivery and finish what looked like a well-honed training-ground routine.
Wheatley immediately provided a nerve-settling second, picking up the pieces of a penalty-area stramash to place a considered shot wide of Cable.
Argyle continued to control the game, but there were few signs of them easing off and Wheatley’s speed took him round a couple of air-tackles into the penalty area for another shot which beat Cable but clattered a post.
Wheatley’s mind proved as nimble as his feet after the break when he pounced on a mistake by Bristol centre-back Josh Jones and shot against the post again – this time on the inside, with the ball nestling in Cable’s net.
Wheatley created for himself a glorious opportunity to claim a hat-trick, dancing down the right flank and bye-line before blazing the ball over, but he was not to be denied and soon afterwards notched his third with a low drive.
Wheatley was substituted to deserved applause soon afterwards as, despite the considerable cushion, Argyle’s youngsters maintained a healthy appetite for the fray.
To Bristol’s credit, they kept going until the final whistle and scored in the final minute when Jones headed in Mason Winter's corner.
The Pilgrims will play away in the second round against the winners of next Tuesday’s Colchester United v AFC Wimbledon tie. The round is scheduled to be concluded by Saturday, November 23.
Argyle (4-4-2): 1 Andrew Hannah; 2 Mason Hughes, 5 Nathan Summers, 6 Aaron Bentley, 3 Ben Purrington (capt); 7 Solomon Wheatley (16 Josh Hutchinson 78), 4 River Allen (12 Will Sargent 52), 8 Kieran Asumadu-Sakyi, 11 Callum Hall; 10 Jake Miller, 9 Louis Rooney (15 Ethan Stark 65). Substitutes (not used): 13 Cory Harvey (gk), 16 Tom Moxham.
Bristol Academy: 1 Connor Cable; 2 Mason Winter, 5 Ben Burns, 6 Josh Jones, 3 Harry Walker; 8 Lewis Hedges, 4 Luke Chappell, 7 Marcus Thatcher (capt, 12 Alex Bisp 78), 11 Joe Swift (14 Vinicuis Pinto 68); 9 Toby Waterman, 10 Dave Sims-Burgess (15 Adam Mahmood 78). Substitutes (not used): 13 Josh Lax (gk), 16 Nick Sealey.
Referee: Steve Annis.