PLYMOUTH Argyle breezed through their first pre-season game against Tavistock, defeating them 5-1 at Langsford Park.Headed goals from River Allen free-kicks – scored by Aaron Bentley and Carl McHugh – put Argyle two goals up, before Matt Lecointe pounced for a third.
After the break Jason Banton scored a dazzling goal, then earned a penalty that Nathan Thomas converted.
Tavistock pulled one back through Carlton Farnham, then won a penalty of their own. Luke McCormick, however, saved well to deny Ian Rooke.
Manager John Sheridan had a near fully-fit squad to choose from, with slight knocks keeping Dominic Blizzard and Deane Smalley from taking part.
Lecointe and Thomas occupied the wide midfield areas in an attacking line-up, and Thomas had the first shot in anger of the match – a rasping drive from outside the box going narrowly over.
Shortly after, a clever free-kick routine from a narrow angle allowed River Allen to curl a shot narrowly past Andy Meads’ far post.
Another set piece then led to Argyle’s opener. After 18 minutes, Allen’s delivery from 40 yards out found Bentley in acres of space. The central defender, making his senior debut, duly headed home from inside the box.
The Pilgrims nearly made it two soon after: Lecointe found himself in a central position, and after brilliantly turning his man, hit a daisy-cutter fractions wide of the goal.
Argyle doubled their lead on 24 minutes, thanks to another cultured free-kick from Allen. The youngster’s cross was almost impossible to defend, and a flick on from McHugh found its way into the far corner of the net.
Allen then nearly got on the scoresheet himself: after Lecointe won a free-kick just outside the box, his low, driven shot was well held by Meads.
They made it three with ten minutes remaining of the opening 45. Thomas broke the offside trap, and after squaring the ball to Allen, Morgan’s shot was parried into the path of Lecointe, who tapped home from close range.
Argyle looked comfortable in possession throughout the first half, and Tavistock were unable to register a shot at James Bittner’s goal.
Allen, Tyler Harvey and trialist Duncan Capriotti all brought youthful energy to the middle of the park, eager to create chances for Marvin Morgan, who hustled and harried the Tavistock centre backs regularly.
As expected, Sheridan made a host of changes for the second half – eight in total – with only Kelvin Mellor, Thomas and McHugh returning for the second period.
A quick break and through ball from Banton found an equally rapid Lewis Alessandra, who looked clean through before Tavistock’s Carlton Farnham made an excellent interception. The same combination combined again shortly afterward, the move ending with a left-footed shot from Alessandra which crept past the far post.
Banton then took centre stage to get Argyle’s fourth of the game after 50 minutes. Picking the ball up on the left wing, he flashed inside, beating three defenders before exchanging a one-two with Reuben Reid. Banton picked up the return pass, beat another defender and rifled home – an outstanding goal that brought everyone in Langsford Park to their feet.
Ten minutes later, Banton was at it again, beating multiple Lambs and earning a penalty, through quick feet and ingenuity. Thomas took on the responsibility and made it 5-0, making it five different names on the scoresheet.
After Bentley and Ben Purrington came back on to replace McHugh and Kelvin Mellor, Alessandra found room between the midfield and defence to play through Reid, who shot straight at Mead from a tight angle.
Neat interplay from Banton and Purrington created a cross for Lee Cox to meet and laid off Oliver Norburn – another trialist – whose fierce shot was well saved.
With 72 minutes gone, Tavistock’s first shot on target of the game ended in a goal. Luke McCormick rushed out to clear a through ball, but his deflected lob found Farnham, who calmly curled the ball into an empty net from long range.
With the wind in his sails, Farnham then surged into the box, and was adjudged to been brought down by a combination of Pilgrims defenders. However, Rooke’s penalty was saved by McCormick, low to his right.
Banton looked to add to his tally near the end, coming in from the left once more and hitting a right-footed against the crossbar. Lee Rundle then joined in on the act, heading against his own bar trying to clear a Banton cross.
Besides Tavistock’s short spell in the middle of the second half, which resulted in a goal and a penalty, Argyle totally controlled proceedings, with little for the rotating defenders to worry about.
Sheridan’s men will now travel up to Weymouth for their second friendly on Saturday, July 19, in preparation for their first Sky Bet League 2 game at Cambridge United on August 9.