Development Game - Argyle 3 Portsmouth 3

Argyle 3
Harvey (2), Morgan.

Portsmouth 3
Tarbuck (2), Gill

ARGYLE and Portsmouth fought out a highly entertaining 3-3 draw at Home Park on Tuesday, in the latest fixture in the Final Third Development League.

Two goals from Tyler Harvey and one from Marvin Morgan put Argyle into the lead on three separate occasions, but each time Pompey equalised; twice through Bradley Tarbuck, and finally through substitute Lewis Gill.

Both teams fielded strong line-ups containing numerous players with first team experience, but neither could edge the match on the day.

Despite trailing in the game on three occasions, Portsmouth were able to claw their way back into the contest to ensure they head back to Hampshire this evening with a hard fought and well-earned point.

As referee Lee Roberts got the game underway, both sides looked to settle on the ball in the opening minutes despite tricky conditions.

The first real chance of the game fell to Portsmouth forward Conor Chaplin in the eighth minute. Amidst a flurry of passes, Chaplin peeled away from the advances of Argyle defender Jamie Richards to fire a long range shot at goalkeeper James Bittner. Whilst it was a comfortable save for the 32-year old, Chaplin’s effort was certainly an early warning for the Argyle defence.

Portsmouth had started the better of the two sides, but Nathan Thomas went close to scoring with two shots in as many minutes. His first effort came as a result of some neat play by Ben Purrington, who whipped the ball across the face of the Portsmouth goal to find Thomas but his goalbound effort was denied by goalkeeper Michael Poke.

His second effort, a curling shot from outside of the box, had looked destined to find the back of the net before the outstretched hands of Poke managed to force the ball behind for a corner.

As Pompey cleared their lines and looked to counter, Argyle managed to recover possession of the ball and find an unmarked Tyler Harvey loitering on the edge of the Portsmouth box. As a long ball sailed over the head of England under 19 defender Jack Whatmough, Harvey coolly chested the ball down and – appropriately enough - poked the ball past Poke into the goal.

Argyle’s lead, however, lasted just two minutes. Portsmouth ploughed forward straight from the kick-off and striker Tarbuck, who was proving a handful up front, darted between Richards and Will Sargant to fire a shot at the onrushing Bittner who, despite palming aside the first effort, was powerless to prevent Tarbuck’s rebound.

Bittner was certainly the busier of the two ‘keepers as the first half wore on. Tom Craddock went closest to finding the net for the visitors with two shots that forced the experienced Argyle shot stopper into action.

With five minutes left to play of the first half, the two sides were tied at a goal apiece and coaches Paul Wotton and Sean McCarthy will have presumably been preparing their half-time tactics as such. But as striker Marvin Morgan peeled away from Whatmough to earn the Pilgrims a free kick on the edge of the box, any pre-prepared half-time talks were discarded.

As the strong winds that had dogged proceeding at Home Park all afternoon picked up and the rain continued to fall, Harvey stepped up to take the free kick. The few fans that had braved the weather watched on as Harvey dispatched with a fine, curling effort that rounded the wall and flew past ‘keeper Poke to make it 2-1 to the Greens.

Portsmouth emerged from the dressing rooms at half time looking the brighter of the two sides, exchanging quick one-two’s that Argyle struggled to contain. Chaplin dragged a shot just wide of the goal before Craddock saw his shot saved by Bittner.

Pompey’s sustained pressure and hard work paid off in the 57th minute. As the ball was fed through to Tarbuck, Richards went to ground in an attempt to intercept. The forward eluded the challenge, darted into the box, committed Bittner and applied an assured finish to level the contest at 2-2.

As the minutes ticked by, both sides chased a third goal. Thomas’s shot-cum-cross looped over the Portsmouth ‘keeper but landed wide of the target while Pompey forwards Chaplin and Tarbuck continued to busy themselves amongst the Argyle back four.

In the face of Portsmouth’s high line, Harvey was released down the right side and was able to fire a cross into the box. While the cross was partially blocked, Pilgrims striker Morgan pounced upon the loose ball and was able to beat the keeper with a low effort at his near post.

With the scoreline now at 3-2, with 15 minutes left to play, Argyle permitted themselves to sit back and allow Portsmouth to push higher up the pitch. Tarbuck nearly drew the visitors level with a fine effort from range and a header following a free kick minutes later, but both were swatted away by Bittner.

It was the substitute, Lewis Gill, who managed to find the equaliser. After being played through between defenders Sargant and Billy Palfrey, the Pompey man took a touch before dinking the ball over Bittner.

A last grasp chance by Chaplin in the dying seconds of the game almost sealed the three points for the visiting side, but it wasn’t enough to evade Bittner’s clutches.

The Development Dockyard Derby, as it were, may not have finished quite as emphatically as the 3-0 Sky Bet League 2 fixture at Home Park earlier this season, but it was certainly just as entertaining. Three goals apiece was a fair reflection of two, young sides that had attacked with fluidity, played at a high-tempo and given their all.

Argyle (4-1-2-1-2): 1 James Bittner; 2 Billy Palfrey, 3 Ben Purrington, 4 River Allen, 5 Jamie Richards, 6 Will Sargant, 7 Tyler Harvey, 8 Ollie Norburn (capt) (17 Ryan Lane), 9 Nathan Thomas, 10 Marvin Morgan, 11 Dom Blizzard.
Substitutes (not used): 14 Callum Hall, 15 James Vincent, 16 Owen Jones, 18 Louis Rooney.

Portsmouth (4-3-3): 1 Michael Poke; 2 Chad Field, 3 Dan Butler, 4 Nick Awford (15 James Granger) 5 Snorre Nilsen, 6 Jack Whatmough (capt), 7 Brandon Haunstrup (14 Lewis Gill) 8 Ben Close, 9 Tom Craddock (12 Fahad Rwakarambwe), 10 Bradley Tarbuck, 11 Conor Chaplin.
Substitutes (not used): 13 Alex Bass (gk).