By Chris Groves
Argyle continued their pre-season preparation on a picturesque evening in the English Riviera, playing out a goalless draw with Torquay United.
An attacking line-up took to the field at Plainmoor, with wingers Jason Banton and Deane Smalley equally adept at getting into attacking positions and creating chances.
Last season’s lethal strike partnership of Reuben Reid and Lewis Alessandra also started, and Reid had the defenders back-tracking after eight minutes - but after surging into the Gulls’ area, his shot was blocked at close range.
After a long period of Argyle possession, Torquay’s first shot came after a loose Kelvin Mellor pass was picked up in midfield by Elliot Benyon. The striker came forward but took a little too long to shoot, eventually scuffing his strike across the face of Luke McCormick’s goal and wide.
Newly-signed midfielder Ollie Norburn showed some good touches early on, and had the confidence to try a 30-yard strike at goal on the 20-minute mark, but it was easily saved by Martin Rice.
Shortly after, another Greens shot from distance – this time from Banton – sailed over the goal and the plentiful Argyle support in the stand behind.
With a quarter of an hour left of the first half, a corner delivered from the right by Banton was not fully cleared and fell to Lee Cox, who couldn’t direct his thunderbolt of a strike from 25 yards.
The hosts managed their first shot on target via the left foot of Ryan Bowman. McCormick just did enough to turn it over, but sustained pressure following the corner led to Louis Briscoe forcing the keeper into action once more.
Three minutes before half time, Reid once again dribbled into the area and fed through Banton at a tight angle, but after cutting in from the right he smashed over from six yards.
The final kick of the first half went to former Pilgrim Luke Young, who found the ball at his feet following a Torquay corner, but McCormick was equal to the midfielder’s fierce shot.
Two changes at the break, with Marvin Morgan and Tyler Harvey replacing Smalley and Cox, but it was the Gulls who came close after the restart – another Bowman strike needed a block from Nelson which left the keeper stranded, but the ball luckily looped wide.
With 53 minutes gone, a dangerous cross from the left from Courtney Cameron found the head of Bowman, who once again could not find the target. Argyle went straight up the other end and some neat interplay between Banton and Reid created an opening for the winger, who was unable to wrap his left foot around the ball enough to hit the target.
On the hour mark, a terrific curled through ball from Norburn put Morgan one-on-one with Rice, but his lofted effort refused to come down in time and find the net.
Young was on set-piece duty against his former club, and delivered a number of dangerous crosses from set-pieces that needed full concentration from the likes of Hartley and Mellor to clear.
On 67 minutes, Morgan used his strength to cause havoc in the box with the ball at his feet. It eventually fell to Alessandra, but his shot was wayward and did not trouble Rice.
With 20 minutes left, substitute Nathan Thomas was unable to hit the target from a dangerous position. Shortly after, another second-half sub – this time Torquay’s Toby Ajala – found room between Argyle’s defence and midfield, but his shot was off target.
The Gulls began to put the pressure on towards the end, and Jordan Chapell’s cute cross from the right needed Captain Nelson to be on full alert and calmly head the ball out of danger.
For a goalless draw, this game provided plenty of shooting opportunities, as well as no lack of work rate and endeavour from both sides.
The next friendly for Argyle sees them return to Home Park, to host Barclays Premier League side Swansea City on Sunday.
Argyle: (4-4-2) 23 Luke McCormick (1 James Bittner 67), 2 Kelvin Mellor (13 Aaron Bentley 67), 5 Curtis Nelson ©, 6 Peter Hartley, 16 Carl McHugh (3 Ben Purrington 60); 22 Deane Smalley (10 Marvin Morgan HT), 4 Lee Cox (14 Tyler Harvey HT), 20 Ollie Norburn (17 River Allen 74), 8 Jason Banton (19 Nathan Thomas 60); 7 Lewis Alessandra, 9 Reuben Reid (18 Matt Lecointe 74)
Substitutes (not used): 15 Paul Wotton
Torquay: 13 Martin Rice, 2 Dale Tonge, 4 Aaron Downes, 6 Ben Harding (16 Courtney Richards 60), 7 Louis Briscoe (22 Toby Ajala 70), 8 Luke Young (19 Sam Chaney 76), 9 Ryan Bowman (26 Daniel Sullivan 79), 11 Courtney Cameron (12 Jordan Chapell 70), 17 Elliot Benyon (14 Ashley Yeoman 60), 21 Angus MacDonald, 42 Tom Cruise
Substitutes: 15 Niall Thompson, 20 Jake Hutchings, 23 Jordan Seabright (GK), 25 Levi Ives.
Attendance: 1,666 (580 away)