Argyle 3 Orient 3 (Orient 6-5 on pens)Argyle 3
Reid 45, 64, McHugh 108
Leyton Orient 3
Cox 13, Baudry 38, Vincelot 103
Aet. 2-2 at 90 minutes
Mooney (Orient) scored 0-1
Allen (Argyle) scored 1-1
Lisbie (Orient) scored 1-2
Alessandra (Argyle) scored 2-2
Sawyer (Orient) saved 2-2
Harvey (Argyle) scored 3-2
Mcanuff (Orient) scored 3-3
Morgan (Argyle) scored 4-3
Clarke (Orient) scored 4-4
Banton (Argyle) saved 4-4
Vincelot (Orient) scored 4-5
Hartley (Argyle) scored 5-5
Baudry (Orient) scored 5-6
McHugh (Argyle) saved 5-6
by Rick Cowdery
FOR the third season in succession, Argyle pushed senior opposition all the way in the opening round of the Capital One Cup only to again fall agonisingly short.
After a stirring cup-tie in which they twice came from behind, the Pilgrims lost a penalty shoot-out which went all the way, and then some.
Luke McCormick saved former Home Park team-mate Gary Sawyer’s spot-kick to give Jason Banton the chance of putting the Pilgrims through with the final kick of the regulation shoot-out.
However, Orient ’keeper Gary Woods saved that and followed up, a few minutes later by keeping out the kick of Carl McHugh – no stranger to Capital One Cup drama and romance – in the sudden-death extension.
Argyle had staged two stirring fightbacks against last season’s Sky Bet League 1 play-off finalists. First, they came from two goals down to level the tie as Reuben Reid struck twice in 20 minutes either side of the interval.
Then, after Romain Vincelot had seemingly squeezed Leyton into the second round with a header in the first half of extra-time, McHugh levelled the match again.
Despite handing the men from the Orient a right pummelling in the final 15-minute period of the extended game, Argyle were unable to find what would have been a thoroughly deserved winner.
Dean Cox, an 11th-minute Orient substitute, had helped put the Sky Bet League 1 visitors in command of the match, scoring an early goal and serving up the other on a plate for Mathieu Baudry ten minutes before half-time.
However, Reid seized on a half-chance in stoppage time at the end of the first 45 minutes to put the Pilgrims right back in things, and the momentum continued when Argyle’s leading scorer from last season notched a second just after the hour.
Argyle manager John Sheridan had made one change to the Argyle starting line-up from the previous weekend’s 1-0 League 2 defeat at Cambridge, resting Deane Smalley and giving a Pilgrims debut to on-loan Blackburn Rovers defender Anthony O’Connor.
O’Connor sat in front of the back four, offering protection for the defence and providing the opportunity to full-backs McHugh and Kelvin Mellor to push on, something which had been in short order at the Abbey.
McHugh was first to reach the opposition bye-line, safe in the knowledge that O’Connor could fill in behind, and he sent over a teasing cross to the far post that former Pilgrim Sawyer helped smuggle away from Reid.
The early promise evaporated almost immediately when Ollie Norburn – one of five Argyle players making their competitive Home Park debut – was caught in possession 25 yards from his own goal by David Mooney.
Mooney played the ball quickly to Cox, who had been on the field for only 98 seconds as an early substitute for the injured Shaun Batt. The diminutive (i.e. tiny) midfielder larruped a shot that was still rising as it beat Luke McCormick for pace.
Argyle responded to the early setback in a positive fashion, playing some neat, patient football which realised some decent possession but which foundered on the disciplined defence of their visitors.
With a goal in their locker, Orient were content to soak it up and wait for the right moment to counter. The tactic worked to deadly effect seven minutes before the break when Cox received the ball wide on the right, halfway inside the Argyle half.
Cox’s cross was nigh on perfect, curling away from goal just enough to ensure that McCormick could not come for it and measured precisely to coincide with the arrival of Baudry, who had initially brought the ball out of defence and just carried on running to bullet home a header from five yards.
Argyle needed a break and they got one in time added on at the end of the first half. Norburn unwittingly unlocked the Leyton back line when, in attempting a shot from the right edge of the penalty area, he scuffed the ball.
His miskick trickled fortuitously through the first line of defence and Reid was switched on enough to react before the red shirts for a first time shot. Although that attempt was blocked, Argyle’s number 9 swiftly turned home the ball to halve the arrears.
The second half saw took a while to spark into life before Reid, ploughing the lone furrow up front, fashioned a chance that demonstrated all of his abilities.
Using strength and no little subtlety, he brought the ball under control while holding off two close challenges, and sped into the penalty area. However, goalkeeper Gary Woods was quick off his line to make a good save from the subsequent shot.
That proved to be merely a warm-up, though. Minutes later, Curtis Nelson played the ball forward into the right-hand channel, where Reid outmuscled Orient skipper Nathan Clarke.
For a moment, it looked like the ball had skewed out of Reid’s compass and Woods again looked favourite to deny him but the Argyle man stretched out a leg to turn the ball into the Barn Park goal.
Game on. Suddenly, the underdogs were having their day and the Championship hopefuls were rocking.
Lewi Alessandra, who netted a pair of peaches at Birmingham a year previously, nearly added to his Capital One Cup repertoire with a curled shot from the left flank that a rooted Woods was grateful to see crash back of the underside of his bar.
When he is in the mood, Alessandra is never going to die wondering, and he followed up his near thing with another outrageous strike from the edge of the penalty area that kissed the crossbar on the way over.
McCormick had been required only to observe proceedings for much of the second half but, when called upon in the final five minutes, continued the form he had showed at Cambridge by blocking smartly Mooney’s close-range shot.
Conceding a goal would have proved fatal for the Pilgrims, who then twice came close in time added on to delivering the coup de grace.
Reid made another barrelling run into the penalty area and this time squared the ball across the six-yard box, where Marvin Bartley interception’s was a necessary gamble that paid off. From the subsequent corner, McHugh got a clean head on the ball but could not direct it goalwards.
So, extra-time. Sheridan introduced Marvin Morgan to relieve Reid and the big fella straightaway went close to getting one of his long legs on Nelson’s knockdown of a free-kick from the right.
Orient responded through the similarly exhausted Cox, who teed up Jobi McAnuff for a deliberate shot that McCormick read all the way.
Cox immediately went down with cramp but had enough in his legs to fashion Orient’s third goal for fellow substitute Vincelot, a neat cross finished with a deft header, albeit one from an unmarked position inside the six-yard box.
Sheridan sent on fresh young legs in Harvey and – making his senior debut – River Allen, and the changes worked to the extent that the Pilgrims’ pressing saw Mellor’s shot deflected past Woods, quite deliberately, by McHugh.
The momentum was back with Argyle, and Harvey brought a good save out of Woods and Banton’s fierce long-range grubber beat the goalkeeper but rebounded off the post as the lottery loomed large.
McHugh then saw Woods tip away his spectacular rising drive before the overworked ’keeper palmed a shot from Morgan over the same crossbar, and, finally, saved another Harvey strike at the foot of his post.
Argyle (4-5-1): 23 Luke McCormick; 2 Kelvin Mellor, 5 Curtis Nelson (capt), 29 Peter Hartley, 16 Carl McHugh; 7 Lewis Alessandra, 4 Lee Cox (24 River Allen 107), 28 Anthony O’Connor, 6 Ollie Norburn (14 Tyler Harvey 105), 8 Jason Banton; 9 Reuben Reid (10 Marvin Morgan 98). Substitutes (not used): 1 James Bittner (gk), 3 Ben Purrington, 19 Nathan Thomas, 22 Deane Smalley.
Leyton Orient (4-4-2): 33 Gary Woods; 2 Eliot Omozusi, 6 Mathieu Baudry, 15 Nathan Clarke (capt), 3 Gary Sawyer; 14 Shaun Batt (7 Dean Cox 11), 8 Lloyd James (4 Romain Vincelot 86), 20 Marvin Bartley, 11 Jobi McAnuff; 27 Jay Simpson (9 Kevin Lisbie 77), 10 David Mooney. Substitutes (not used): 1 Adam Legzdins (gk), 5 Scott Cuthbert, 12 Shane Lowry, 18 Bradley Pritchard.
Referee: Tony Harrington.
Attendance: 3,343 (141 away).