ARGYLE beat Torquay United in a development game for the second time this season thanks to a goal by Andres Gurrieri.He was one of several experienced pros on show as both teams took the fixture seriously and fielded numerous players who have appeared in respective first-teams this season.
In truth, in made for an entertaining afternoon, as despite the scoreline - a pleasing familiar one, it has to be said - there was the potential for this game to be richer with goals than it proved to be.
Both teams hit the woodwork within the opening fifteen minutes. First Torquay’s Nathan Craig hit took a seemingly adventurous swipe at a bouncing ball some thirty yards out, but the strike was a sweet one, and arched away from Jake Cole, striking an upright and bouncing to safety.
Minutes later, Argyle were awarded a free-kick for a trip on Andres Gurrieri just outside the area. Tyler Harvey stepped up and seemed to smash the ball home, but Gulls’ goalkeeper Michael Poke got enough of a hand to it to redirect it onto the crossbar.
Argyle, particularly through Gurrieri, were looking bright. Persistence and smart close control from the Argentinean got him to the bye-line, from where he cut the ball into the middle. A deflection knocked the ball into space, where Isaac Vassell was the first to react. Reacting approximately 0.081 of a second behind him, though, was Poke, who pushed the ball away as Vassell struck it. The loose ball was played back and forced goalwards by Harvey, but Poke again reacted smartly to flick it behind.
Central free-kicks seemed to be the order of the day. Hamza Bencherif fired one into a wall, then tried to play Andre Blackman in as a cute routine went awry. Next, Harvey had another go from a dead-ball a little further out that his previous attempt – and this time clipped into Poke’s grateful arms.
Torquay were in the game; a hopeful over the top kept Cole honest as he ran to the edge of his box to head away, and various other forays into Argyle territory saw a touch of pressure but no cutting edge. Argyle, meanwhile, always looked more likely to break the deadlock.
Indeed, the opening goal came from an Argyle boot just moment before half-time. More specifically, the left boot of Gurrieri; a boot that met the ball perfectly from just inside the angle of the penalty area and found the net high to Poke’s left.
Minutes after the restart, Torquay should have levelled. Industrious work by the experienced Karl Hawley allowed Danny Sullivan the opportunity to prod home from within the six-yard box. Somehow, he contrived to miss. He is probably still wondering.
Vassell, busy all afternoon up front for Argyle, had a prominent five minutes as first he struck a post with Poke well beaten, and then slalomed past three opponents before shooting meekly into the goalkeeper’s hands.
Torquay equalised soon after.....in the woodwork stakes, at least. It became 2-2 in terms of hitting the frame of the goal, as trialist Daryl Horgan smashed against the bar from ten yards out.
Sullivan then burst through on a ball that evaded Paul Wotton in the air, and seemed destined to finish easily. His first problem was self-inflicted; perhaps in his eagerness to put one over the club he played for as a schoolboy, he stumbled, and the ball slipped agonisingly beyond his control. As he regained his position, though, Wotton slid in, clipping his ankles. Sullivan, to his credit, didn’t go down, but his stumble put paid to his chance, as Argyle gratefully recovered.
Torquay, having had plenty of opportunities in the second period, never got another chance as good as Sullivan’s and Argyle saw out the remainder to win the game – and claim another clean sheet. A good habit is always worth continuing at all levels.
Argyle (4-4-2): Jake Cole; Aaron Bentley (Nathan Summers, 77), Paul Wotton, Guy Branston (Purrington, 62); Mason Hughes, Hamza Bencherif, Dominic Blizzard (Kieran Asumadu-Sakyi, 75), Andres Gurrieri (Callum Hall, 86) Andre Blackman; Isaac Vassell (Sol Wheatley,71), Tyler Harvey.
Substitutes (not used): Andrew Hannah, Ben Purrington.
Torquay: Michael Poke, Krystian Pearce (Oneil Odofin 71), Jack Mace, Daryl Horgan, Courtney Cameron, Karl Hawley (Liam Prynn, 77), Damien Mozika, Nathan Craig, Tom Cruise (Jamie Alexandrou, 82), Danny Sullivan, Jake Hutchings.
Substitutes (not used): Monty Berrow, Sam Chaney, Daniel Lavercombe.