Buckland Athletic 1
Bentley, Hughes, Banton
AN Argyle line-up mixed with youth and experience saw off a spirited Buckland Athletic side to reach the semi-finals of the Edenvale Turf Ltd Devon St Luke's Challenge Cup.
Aaron Bentley's first half header saw Argyle into a 1-0 lead at the break, and Mason Hughes made it two, beating Neil Montandon in the Buckland goal, just minutes after the home goalkeeper had saved a River Allen penalty.
Former Torquay United forward Ellis Laight pulled one back for Buckland, before Jason Banton added a third and the Pilgrims eased home.
Argyle will now meet Willand Athletic in the semi-finals of the competition at a date to be confirmed in due course.
A visibly up-for-it Buckland side had the first two major chances of the game, each falling to industrious forward Gavin Hammon. The first was pulled wide, with the second saved by James Bittner, but the home side has shown their intent.
Argyle, matching their hosts by playing a 3-5-2 system, were finding joy down the flanks, with Ben Purrington and Banton each making eye-catching runs on the left, but failing to pick out anyone in the centre. On the other wing, Hughes sent over two dangerous centres that Buckland did well to prevent reaching Louis Rooney.
From a left-wing corner, Argyle grabbed the lead, with River Allen and Banton combining to take a quick one, and the former crossing to the far post where Bentley towered above all to head back across goal and into the corner.
Argyle finished the half with purpose, and struck the woodwork twice in search of a second. First Banton, having skipped past several challenges, hit a deflected effort onto a post, before Ollie Norburn's free-kick glances the crossbar on its way over.
Montandon was in fine form at the beginning of the second period, saving brilliantly from Allen after great work from Ryan Lane on the left side. The goalkeeper reacted brilliantly to Rooney's rebound, too, before Purrington skied the loose ball.
Former Pilgrim Liam Head bundled a busy Rooney to the ground shortly afterwards, but Montandon was again on his mettle, diving to his left to save from Allen's spot-kick and then to block Lane's follow-up shot.
It was a shame, therefore, that Montandon was at fault for allowing Argyle going into a two-goal lead. Hughes' effort from twenty yards looked to be comfortable enough to save, but it squirmed beneath Montandon and crawled over the line.
Buckland's reaction was excellent, and Laight's goal showed the hallmarks of his Football League experience as he got Athletic back in the game. Laight also hit the side-netting, and substitute Danny Gaze shot over as the hosts sensed an upset.
That hope was extinguished with a little over a quarter hour remaining, with Banton's dancing feet repelling the grasping advances of Montandon and his defenders to clip home. Pressure from Rooney had procured the ball for Lane to hit an incisive early ball to Banton, who toyed with those around him before putting the ball home, and the game to bed.
Banton in particular shone in the closing stages, as Buckland understandably tired, and Argyle saw the game out.
Argyle: 1 James Bittner; 5 Aaron Bentley, 4 Will Sargent, 3 Tom Moxham; 2 Mason Hughes, 8 River Allen, 6 Ollie Norburn (capt), 7 Ryan Lane (14 Callum Hall 85), 11 Ben Purrington; 9 Louis Rooney (15 Jason Vincent 76), 10 Jason Banton (17 Billy Palfrey 90). Substitutes (not used): 23 Cory Harvey (gk), 16 Jack Calver.