ARGYLE'S youngsters are now the only side unbeaten in their Dale Farm Milk Cup group after victory over the Japan Under-15 international side thanks Alex Battle’s third goal of the tournament.
North Dublin, who Argyle thrashed 5-0 the previous day, beat Australian club Sydney Utd 1-0, to leave the young Pilgrims going in to their next game, against the Aussies, with confidence high.
Argyle came hard at their opponents from the first whistle with a 20-yard drive from Battle (pictured) crashing back off the post before Jordan Bentley met Jake Lane’s corner with a far-post header that flew over the crossbar.
Alex Fletcher and Josh Richards had both gone close before the Japanese enjoyed their only spell of possession in the game but even then they failed to trouble Michael Cooper in the Argyle goal.
The action soon switched back in to the Japanese half, with Fletcher breaking clear only to see his low, angled, drive superbly pushed around the far post by Tomorhiro Kato.
Kato was the main reason that more goals were not scored and the excellent ‘keeper did well to turn Fletcher’s stinging drive wide.
Good play by full-back Ryan Dabbs saw his right wing cross unfortunately bounce over Battle’s outstretched foot before another Richards thunderbolt was well saved by Kato.
The half finished with Fletcher’s near-post drive saved by Kato before Bentley’s far-post header landed on top of the bar.
The second half saw Argyle continue with their dominance of the game and they were finally rewarded with a goal within four minutes of the resumption.
Fletcher played a great one-two out wide on the left before beating his marker and sending a pin-point cross over for Battle to rifle a right-foot, first time, shot into the net.
Japan replied with their first effort on target but Cooper plucked Hiroki Sakuyama’s drive out of the air.
That was practically the sum total of Japan’ efforts as the Argyle defence and midfield were quick to close down their skilful opponents.
The action quickly returned to the other end of the pitch with Fletcher was again finding Kato his nemesis before Ryan Law’s great run ended with him shooting over the bar.
Sam Ryan then sent in a fierce drive that Kato somehow tipped on to the bar before his defence completed the clearance.
Fletcher dispossessed a defender in the area, only for Kato to spread himself well and block the Argyle striker’s drive.
The action ended with Argyle substitute Billy Craske finding Kato diving bravely at his feet to once again save his side from suffering a more fitting defeat.
Argyle: Michael Cooper, Ryan Dabbs, Ryan Law, Harry Downing, Jordan Bentley, Josh Richards, Sam Ryan (Billy Craske 58), Tyler Tonkin, Alex Fletcher, Alex Battle, Jake Lane. Substitutes (not used) Harry Hodges, Max Childs, Sam Morgan, Elliott Crawford, Matthew Ward, Cameron Sangster.