ARGYLE’s two goals in a stirring fightback at Vale Park on Sunday came from two very different sources.Seasoned striker Reuben Reid, comfortably Argyle’s top goalscorer this season, grabbed his 13th goal of the current campaign when he rolled in from Lewis Alessandra’s pass, halving the 2-0 deficit Argyle faced at half-time.
The equaliser, though, was from a less obvious source, and created a little bit of Pilgrims history. Left-back Ben Purrington, on as a substitute, became the youngest ever Argyle FA Cup goalscorer when he linked with Alessandra and coolly clipped into the corner of the Valiants net, in front of nearly 600 of the Green Army.
It gave Argyle a draw they thoroughly merited, and gave Ben a place in the Pilgrims record books. According to records, in 240 FA Cup ties in our history, Argyle have scored 330 goals, but none of the goalscorers have been as young as Ben. In fact, he is the only one to score such a goal and not be able to celebrate with a light ale, or similar alcoholic beverage, given that he is some four months shy of his 18th birthday.
“It was a great little passage of play,” said manager John Sheridan, of Ben’s goal. “It was Lewi, again, who set it up.
“(Ben) has got that in his game; he likes to get forward and support, and get the play high up the pitch. He gives us that youthful energy and has done really well so far. I’m pleased he’s got his goal.”
Despite wholly positive reviews for the three starts he has made since his Boxing Day debut, Ben was on the bench at the outset of the visit to the Potteries.
Instead, John opted to start with the more experienced – though still only 21-years-old – Durrell Berry, given the threat posed by Vale winger Jennison Myrie Williams.
John said: “Myrie Williams likes to cut in so I thought, being a right-footer, Durrell would take care of him, which I think he did.
“(Ben) wasn’t dropped, by any means; I can’t afford to drop him – he’s playing too well. You could see, when he came on, he just gave us something a little bit different.
“Defensive responsibility is, first and foremost, his priority, as a left-back but he likes to get forward and I would never stop that in his game. He has got great energy and likes to get up and down; he had a great one-two with Lewi and finished it nicely.”
Reuben, meanwhile, is more used to goalscoring, and his manager is pleased that after taking a while to flow, the goals are now coming for Argyle’s number nine.
“He’s scored goals wherever he’s been,” said John. “It’s down to Reuben. I think you can see he’s got a bit of confidence; the team’s playing with a bit of confidence and creating chances.
“It was great play from Lewi. It was unselfish of him and has squared it for Reuben. They are the best goals, those little tap-ins.
“I’m pleased he’s scoring goals and pleased that he’s helping the teams get results.”