Forest Green 3 Argyle 5 - Report
Forest Green Rovers 3
Jones 4, Frear 14, Parkin [pen] 30
Jervis 32, 62, Reid 36, Boateng 51, Sawyer 72
IF Argyle’s six pre-season games are anything to go by for their 2015-16 season, we should not expect too many dull, goalless affairs.
The Greens concluded their preparations for the Sky Bet League 2 campaign with, quite frankly, a bonkers 5-3 win against Forest Green Rovers. They were 3-0 down after just a third of the game, as Darren Jones, Elliott Frear and Jon Parkin put the hosts in front, but their lead was only one by half time thanks to efforts from Jake Jervis and Reuben Reid.
The Pilgrims showed their class after the break, with goals from Hiram Boateng, another from Jervis and a superb strike by Gary Sawyer earning them the win.
Manager Derek Adams made one change to his starting line-up that saw off Torquay United three days previous, with Carl McHugh replacing Lee Cox and reprising a midfield role that he has more-than-adequately played at times this month. Cox took his place on the bench alongside Ryan Brunt, who returned to the squad following the birth of his first child.
Standing in the Pilgrims’ way as the sixth and final hurdle of their July marathon stood an ambitious and ever-expanding Conference Premier side, who many are tipping to better last season’s run to the play-off semi-final. Their starting XI boasted plenty of talent and Football League experience, including Aaron O’ Connor, Darren Jones and the quintessential big target man, Parkin.
After four minutes, it was the second of those three names that broke the deadlock. After Elliott Frear’s shot forced Luke McCormick to tip behind for a corner, Jones capitalised on a hooked clearance and hit the sweet spot, rifling a low drive into the far corner.
The colour of the strip may have changed for Argyle, displaying their royal lilac kit for the first time, and so the formation was slightly amended. A midfield triangle headed by Graham Carey was on show, with a front three of Reuben Reid, flanked by Gregg Wylde and Jake Jervis.
Carey was the first of that line-up to create an opportunity, linking up with Jervis and getting behind the hosts before cutting a shot past the far post. Roles were reversed shortly after, as a free-kick from Carey found Jervis free inside the six-yard box, but he could not direct his header on target.
The Pilgrims were behind for the first time in pre-season, and their deficit to the team actually wearing green was doubled in the 14th minute. Excellent work from O’Connor led to the forward playing in the extremely lively Frear, who added a goal to his assist by hitting a left-footed drive past McCormick from a narrow angle.
Rovers’ third came from the spot after half an hour, as a perfectly-weighted ball over the top got the better of Curtis Nelson looked to have set O’Connor through, until a back-tracking Mellor bundled over the striker just inside the area. Parkin stepped up and looked the calmest person in Gloucestershire as he sent McCormick the wrong way and slotted home.
Argyle had struggled for the entire first half to find room to express themselves, not only thanks to the narrow playing surface, but also the hosts’ urgency to close them down in possession. Their first goal came just two minutes after Forest Green’s third, as Wylde finally found room to breathe on the left flank. Hugging the touch-line, the Scot whipped in a cross that, as so many of his have already, found Jervis at the far post, who nodded in his sixth goal in as many games.
Four minutes later, the deficit was reduced to one. After Adams told his players with plenty of passion from his technical area to push higher up the field, Carey closely controlled the ball 30 yards from goal and played in Reid, who only needed two touches to set himself and smash his effort past Jonny Maxted.
Seven minutes after the restart, Argyle completed the feat that Bath had inflicted on them the previous week. A Forest Green corner was expertly countered, first by Jervis, who broke past the half-way line and left Delano Sam-Yorke on his backside before playing in Wylde. The winger raised his head and picked out the late run of Boateng with a low pass, and the Crystal Palace loanee side-footed his shot into the roof of the net.
As you were, then, at The New Lawn, except it was the visitors now who were looking energetic and confident – and they quickly completed the turnaround. McHugh went to ground in midfield for his team, and Carey immediately pounced on the loose ball and played in Reid, who had the presence of mind to cut back and pass to Wylde. Gregg played a first-time lay-off to Carey whose shot was parried into the air by Maxted, but Jervis was quickest to react and tapped in the rebound from a couple of yards out.
Adams’ side remained lively as the minutes ticked away: Boateng could have doubled his tally from another Wylde delivery, and Carey stung the palms of Maxted before Jervis was denied a hat-trick by the shot-stopper.
And they manoeuvred themselves some breathing room with 18 minutes to go, thanks to an unlikely source. Heavy Argyle pressure saw the full backs press on, which allowed Gary Sawyer the chance to control the ball 25 yards out and thunder a daisy-cutter into the far corner.
As all seven of Argyle’s substitutes were deployed in the game’s final throes, the likes of Boateng, Carey, Jervis all had chances to add to their account but, alas, it was just the five goals for the evening. That adds up to 18 goals over all six of their pre-season games, culminating in five wins and a draw. If the action in Kingston next Saturday against AFC Wimbledon is anywhere near the frenetic, roller-coaster affair at The New Lawn, and the entirety of July, we should be in for quite a ride.
Are you ready?
Forest Green (4-4-2): 22 Jonny Maxted; 6 Dale Bennett, 5 Darren Jones, 10 Marcus Kelly; 15 Delano Sam-Yorke, 8 Sam Wedgbury, 12 Clovis Kamdjo, 11 Elliott Frear; 20 Jon Parkin, 7 Aaron O’Connor (9 Keanu Marsh-Brown 67). Substitutes (not used): 13 Paul White (gk), 14 Corby Moore, 21 Aden Baldwin, 22 Louis McGrory.
Argyle (4-3-3): 23 Luke McCormick (21 Cory Harvey 86); 2 Kevin Mellor, 5 Curtis Nelson (capt) (19 Aaron Bentley 86), 6 Peter Hartley, 3 Gary Sawyer (16 Ben Purrington 77); 4 Carl McHugh, 10 Graham Carey, 20 Hiram Boateng (7 Lee Cox 79); 14 Jake Jervis (24 Louis Rooney 86), 9 Reuben Reid (17 Ryan Brunt 70), 11 Gregg Wylde, (15 Tyler Harvey 86).
Referee: Richard Martin
Attendance: 519 (137 away)