SATURDAY, February 21, 2015 - a historic day that will live long in the memory of many a Pilgrim.
It was a day that saw Reuben Reid write his name into Argyle folklore as he became the first ever Argyle player to score a hat-trick against Exeter City at St James Park, in a 3-1 win that saw us beat our local rivals on their own patch for the first time since 2002.
The history-making does not stop there though, with Reuben becoming just the third Argyle player to score a hat-trick against Exeter. The most recent treble came 84 years ago, in 1929, from Ray Bowden. Reuben’s trifecta was the first league hat-trick recorded by an Argyle player since 2006, when Vincent Pericard notched three against Coventry.
Despite the month ending on a sour note with the Greens dropping out of the play-off spots after suffering a 2-0 defeat to fellow promotion contenders Bury – which condemned us to just our fourth home league defeat of the season – we generated a four-game win streak which saw us beat Accrington Stanley, high-flying Wycombe Wanderers, Cambridge United and, of course, Exeter City.
Argyle 1-0 Accrington
Wycombe 0-2 Argyle
Argyle 2-0 Cambridge
Exeter 1-3 Argyle
Argyle 0-2 Bury
John Sheridan’s side came into the month still in search of their first win of 2015. January ended with a 3-2 away defeat to strugglers Hartlepool United, so John was looking for a vast improvement from his side against John Coleman’s Accrington; and they did exactly that by securing a 1-0 win with Lewi Alessandra’s 42nd-minute strike sealing the points, at Home Park.
This was Argyle’s first win since December 20 when the Greens beat Dagenham & Redbridge 3-0 and it seemed to galvanise the Pilgrims as they looked to have regained the taste for victory. This was evident in their impressive 2-0 away win over promotion contenders Wycombe, at Adams Park.
The Pilgrims succeeded in gaining their revenge for the 1-0 home defeat to the Chairboys at the start of the season through goals from Alessandra and Peter Hartley, which put an end to Gareth Ainsworth’s 12-game unbeaten run and saw the Greens slot back into the play-off pack.
Argyle then returned to the Theatre of Greens to take on Richard Money’s Cambridge, and grabbed a third straight win. They left it late with two goals from Ryan Brunt and Alessandra coming in the final nine minutes of the game, but nonetheless it was another crucial three points as Argyle extended their winning run.
Then it was the big one; the battle for bragging rights and local pride, the 100th meeting of Exeter and Argyle.
It took 27 minutes for the deadlock to be broken, as Bobby Reid’s scuffed shot fell perfectly into the path of namesake Reuben who clinically converted into the right corner. Exeter then had their say when they drew level through Arron Davies on the stroke of half time.
The next significant contribution came in the 57th minute when Alessandra was brought down in the box by Matt Oakley with the referee having no choice but to award the penalty. It was down to Reuben to step up and he did not disappoint as he lashed his effort past the helpless ‘keeper for his brace.
The game then took an unexpected turn for the worse for the Pilgrims with Olly Lee unluckily receiving a straight red card, but despite Argyle being at a numerical disadvantage they went on to score a history-making third with Reuben, after much chaos in the box, prodding home to take the match ball back to Plymouth from St James Park for the first time in Argyle history.
Sadly, the month ended on a low note, as Bury became the first side to complete the double over Argyle season. A 2-0 win for the Shakers at Home Park secured the vital three points for the visitors. Goals from old foe Daniel Nardiello and Danny Rose condemned the Pilgrims to their first and only defeat of the month.
February Stat Attack
Goals scored – 8
Goals conceded – 3
Clean sheets – 3
Points (from 15) – 12
League position at the start of the month – 10th
League position at the end of the month – 8th
Reuben Reid – 3
Lewi Alessandra – 3
Ryan Brunt – 1
Peter Hartley – 1
Goals of the Month
Here are my choices for the top three goals of the month:
1. Reuben Reid’s third goal v Exeter
2. Reuben Reid’s second goal v Exeter
3. Reuben Reid’s first goal v Exeter
It just had to be done!