ARGYLE'S unbeaten pre-season continues as Dutch adventure peaks with a victory...
MVV Maastricht 1
Goodwillie 19, Songo'o 86
ARGYLE won perhaps their toughest task in pre-season so far, with two very different goals of striking brilliance.
After falling behind, Argyle replied quickly when David Goodwillie concluded an excellent team move to equalise. With four minutes remaining, centre-back Yann Songo’o converted a sensational overhead kick to give the Pilgrims a confidence-boosting win.
The hosts opened the scoring via an unorthodox goal scored by striker Thomas Verheydt. He got on the end of a cross from the left-hand side and his best option looked to be a header on goal. Instead, he tried to cushion a volley to a team-mate across the six-yard area. This, though, looped and sliced, over the heads of Luke McCormick and Songo’o, and into the net.
The 11th-minute goal came against the run of play as Argyle had made a more than competent start in unfamiliar surroundings and on an artificial pitch. They looked to draw level almost immediately, as Goodwillie met Gary Miller’s early, left-footed centre. Goodwillie’s header at the far post looked goalward, and had the home goalkeeper, Patryk Procek, beaten. However, the effort hit the side netting on the wrong side.
Argyle did find the equaliser, though, and it was Goodwillie who nabbed it. Gary Sawyer stopped a promising MVV attack and instigated one of Argyle’s making. Via Graham Carey, Argyle got the ball to Jimmy Spencer then out to Jake Jervis. With only Spencer and Goodwillie to aim at, it looked a tough task for Jervis, with five defenders back.
The run of Goodwillie was too good for the home defenders, though, and the pass every inch its equal. Goodwillie got an outstretched boot to the ball, and fired home against the crossbar to give Argyle parity.
Before the break, Verheydt had another chance to put his side ahead, but McCormick won the one-on-one battle to keep the scores level at the break.
Verheydt, with a touch of the Jock Morrisons about him, was MVV’s main threat, and their best chances in the second half fell to him, too. Two headers, one deflected wide by Songo’o, the other straight into the hands of McCormick, were Maastricht’s best opportunities to take a lead for the second time, but in all honesty their chances were fleeting.
Argyle played easily the better football on a surface that they instantly seemed to take to, and Spencer’s downward volley that bounced up over the bar looked like it would be the Pilgrims’ most obvious chance to snatch it.
However, when Argyle did grab a late, and by then unassailable, lead, it came from a slightly unlikely source – and via very unlikely means. Songo’o has gone close to scoring in pre-season several times more than his one strike against Elburton, but typically via headers, and rebounds from set-pieces.
This could be described as the latter, but after Carey’s left-sided cross was headed upwards by Jervis and allowed to bounce, few expected Argyle to score, let alone via Songo’o’s flailing right boot, from a perfectly executed overhead kick.
The goal was scored right in front of the Green Army, who celebrated this high point in their trip with gusto. What a moment.
As we continually say at this time of year, no prizes are awarded at this stage, and, just as we may have played down a 1-1 draw against Weymouth, we will not go over the top about a victory here, even though it came against second-tier opponents in a strong footballing country.
That said, the poise and fluid passing on show will have pleased the travelling Green Army, and thrilled Derek Adams.
The Dutch experience is not yet over – and neither is Argyle’s unbeaten pre-season. Some more to be done, then we pack our bags – and face the Baggies.
Argyle (4-3-3): 23 Luke McCormick (capt); 2 Gary Miller, 4 Yann Songo’o, 15 Sonny Bradley, 3 Gary Sawyer; 24 David Fox (16 Ben Purrington 84), 10 Graham Carey, 18 Oscar Threlkeld; 14 Jake Jervis, 9 Jimmy Spencer (8 Jordan Slew 72), 7 David Goodwillie (11 Ryan Donaldson 72). Substitutes (not used): 5 Nauris Bulvitis, 6 Connor Smith, 17 Jordan Bentley, 20 Louis Rooney, 22 David Ijaha.