Argyle win Edenvale Turf Ltd Devon St Luke's Challenge Cup on penalties after thrilling draw.
Lane, Steer 2, Purrington
Downing, Reed, Squires pen, Tapp
Penalty Shoot Out
Gardner (Bideford) scored 0-1
Harvey (Argyle) scored 1-1
Downing (Bideford) saved 1-1
Norburn (Argyle) scored 2-1
Sampson (Bideford) scored 2-2
Lane (Argyle) wide 2-2
Squires (Bideford) scored 3-2
Purrington (Argyle) scored 3-3
Reed (Bideford) scored 3-4
Steer (Argyle) scored 4-4
Copp (Bideford) saved 4-4
Banton (Argyle) scored 5-4
Argyle win 5-4 on penalties
bv Rob McNichol
A MIX-AND-MATCH Argyle side prevailed in the final of Devon's premier cup competition - but were taken all the way by a spirited Bideford side.
The Evo Stik Southern Premier side shared eight goals with the Pilgrims, who started with seven players with first team experience, before losing out in a penalty shoot-out.
Argyle twice led in the first half, through goals by Ryan Lane and Ben Steer, but both times were pegged back almost immediately, first by Sean Downing and then Stephen Reed. In the second half Kevin Squires put Bideford ahead from the penalty, but this time Steer equalised almost instantly, and Argyle thought they had won it with Ben Purrington's late goal, only for Danny Tapp to head in a leveller deep into injury time.
After each side had taken five penalties, the scores were level at 4-4, but after Adam Copp's effort was saved by James Bittner, Jason Banton's converted penalty sealed the win Argyle.
Argyle began with a young back three, but all had played in the first team - Jamie Richards played in the centre, flanked by Aaron Bentley to the right and Ben Purrington to the left. Apprentice Billy Palfrey played at right wing-back, with Callum Hall, this week offered a professional contract, on the left. Ollie Norburn marshalled a midfield that contained Ben Steer and Ryan Lane, while Tyler Harvey and Jason Banton started up front.
Lloyd Gardner and Bideford skipper Squires had early chances to put the Robins ahead, but Argyle led on 14 minutes thanks to a classic breakaway goal. Quick thinking and accuracy from Bittner got the ball quickly to Palfrey, who released Banton. His long cross found the run of Lane, who drilled home.
Bideford equalised immediately, as Downing got on the end of a left wing cross to provide the perfect response for the North Devon side.
Argyle had a chance to regain the lead when Bentley headed wide from close range, before Bittner was called into action to save from Gardner. The same player had earlier rounded Bittner and shot for goal, where Norburn calmly blocked the ball on the line.
The Pilgrims did get back in from, after a well-worked corner. Banton came short to offer Lane an option, but in dragging two men out of the area Banton left a gap which Steer ran into. Lane picked out his midfield colleague superbly, and the number seven's clipped finish was equally well executed.
Once again, Bideford equalised instantly, with Reed hitting a beautifully timed left-footed shot from the edge of the box, after a corner was half-cleared.
In the second half Harvey drew a great save out of goalkeeper Jake Colwill before Bentley brought down Downing in the area for a Bideford penalty. Squires fired home and Bideford's noisy band of supporters rejoiced, but this time it was Argyle's turn to hit straight back.
Steer, who had an eye-catching outing in the engine room, brought down the ball, skipped the area and fired in from a tight angle to score the best goal of the game and level things up at 3-3.
Reed hit two marvelous curling efforts just wide of Bittner's goal as time ticked away, before Argyle thought they had won the game with six minutes remaining. Banton, now operating on the left flank after the Greens switched to a 4-4-2 with the introduction of the lively Alex Fletcher, did well to come inside and hold the ball, then fed the surging run of Purrington. The captain took the ball well and coolly rolled it home past Colwill.
As time ebbed away, the officials signalled for a minimum of three minutes to be added on. Three-and-a-half minutes later, Bideford launched a free-kick into the area,and Tapp's looping header found the net.
The whistle sounded immediately after the restart, sending the game into kicks from the penalty mark. Bittner saved early from Downing, giving Argyle an advantage, but the otherwise excellent Lane shot wide, allowing Bideford to recover. At 4-4, Bittner saved again, this time from substitute Adam Copp, and Banton flashed home from the spot to win.
It was a good feeling to win a final. Hopefully not the last time this month...
Argyle (3-5-2): 1 James Bittner; 5 Aaron Bentley, 4 Jamie Richards, 3 Ben Purrington; 2 Billy Palfrey, 7 Ben Steer, 6 Ollie Norburn, 8 Ryan Lane, 11 Callum Lane (17 Alex Fletcher 69); 9 Tyler Harvey, 10 Jason Banton.