ARGYLE Ladies are still on their hunt for the first win of the season, following a 4-0 home defeat to table-topping Brighton & Hove Albion.
Argyle knew the game was not going to be easy when they hosted the leaders, but with the returns of Becky Atkins and Rebekah Rose to the starting line-up, manager Kevin Taylor hoped his side would be closer than their 6-1 defeat last weekend.
Argyle started the game under the cosh and Brighton, yet to concede a goal this season, were 2-0 down within 10 minutes of kick-off.
Albion’s Deanna Cooper ran from her own half unchallenged before striking from outside of the box. Her effort deflected off of Alex Hugh and bounced past a stranded Michaela Phillips in the Argyle goal.
Charlotte Gurr doubled the visitors’ lead, with a perfectly placed shot, directly from a free kick from an awkward angle.
Argyle had their backs against the wall, and Pilgrim skipper Katie Middleton had to be on good form to stop the free-flowing attacking football Brighton coach James Marrs had his side playing.
The visitors almost added their third of the game midway through the second half when Kate Natkiel teed up Kirsty Barton for an effort on the edge of the D, but Phillips dived low to pull off a one arm save, keeping the scores at 2-0.
Brighton continued to pepper the Argyle goal with chances, but the Pilgrims held out until half time.
The visitors almost added to the scoreline when Natkiel outpaced Pheobe Baker, where her effort was almost scooped in by Seagull striker, Amy Taylor, but Philips was quick off her line to sweep up the loose ball.
Argyle could not keep on withstanding the pressure from Albion, and at almost midway through the second half, Gurr got her second, when she managed to outpace Middleton and latch on to a through ball from Barton, finessing her effort past a grounded Phillips in the Argyle goal.
The Pilgrims were stubborn in trying to prevent a fourth going in, with Jodie Chubb and vice captain Atkins pulling off some fantastic tackling at times.
Stubbornness soon wore thin, and Gurr turned her brace into a hat-trick. Natkiel won the ball in a dangerous position and, when her cross was driven into the box, Gurr simply slotted home from five yards, grabbing her third of the match.
Despite being 4-0 down, Argyle pushed for what would be a consolation, and almost got something for their efforts when Mollie Taylor latched onto an Atkins through ball, but Faye Baker between the Brighton sticks had other ideas, pushing Taylor’s effort wide, and keeping the clean sheet in tact for the visitors.
At the final whistle, a philosophical Kevin Taylor was quick to reflect that Brighton were by far the best team Argyle had faced this season and, despite the 4-0 scoreline, his defence had battled extremely well throughout.
He said: “The manner of the goals conceded was again disappointing but highlighted the ruthlessness of the opposition strikers at this level with every mistake being punished.
“Brighton will, no doubt, be contesting the title come the end of the season and it’s not against these teams that we can really judge how our own season will pan out. Next week we face a trip to Queens Park Rangers, who are currently bottom of the League - that’s where we must be looking at picking up some points.”