Tavistock 2 Argyle 7 - Report
Tavistock 2 (Hobbs pen, Crago) Argyle 7 (Battle 2, Spencer, Goodwillie, Rooney, Jervis pen, Carey)
Derek Adams' summer of reinvention at Argyle continued with new faces and systems on display during a 7-2 win over Tavistock AFC.
Just one starter for the Greens at Langsford Park, Ben Purrington, had kicked off three days previous in the Greens' opening pre-season game against St Blazey, whilst the likes of David Goodwillie, Oscar Threlkeld and Jimmy Spencer got the chance to start. Two new trialists, a starting midfielder and goalkeeper on the substitutes bench, were also named in the squad.
A more orthodox formation was rolled out by Adams than the one we saw at Blaise Park, with a four-defender setup featuring Jordan Bentley and latest signing Sonny Bradley in the centre. Up front, early touches for youngster Alex Battle and David Goodwillie allowed the former an early chance at goal, before Goodwillie himself tested goalkeeper Jack Ord from 20 yards.
The Scot found himself through on goal in the 27th minute as his strike partner Spencer stole the ball high up the field. Goodwillie's extensive dribbling in the box led to a blocked shot, but Battle was quickest to react to the loose ball and tucked his effort into the near corner.
The hosts certainly posed more of a threat to Argyle than Saturday's opponents, but their enthusiasm going forward left gaps elsewhere. Threlkeld found space 30 yards out and his powerful, swirling effort needed to be tipped over by Ord. Pressure from the Pilgrims began to take its toll, and a short corner routine led to Argyle's trialist swinging in a dangerous delivery, nodded down by Bradley and prodded home by Spencer.
A sole corner for Tavistock led to an Argyle counter shortly after, worked down and across the field before Battle cut in from the left and forced a stretching save from Ord. It was 3-0 shortly after, however, thanks to some classic strike partnership play - Spencer rising high and nodding the ball down for Goodwillie, who rifled home.
The Greens conceded their first goal of pre-season just before the break, as Threlkeld tried to track back but brought down his man inside the box. Luke McCormick dived the right way for Glyn Hobbs' spot kick, but was unable keep the low strike out.
Argyle's shot-stopping trialist was the only change for the second half to replace McCormick, but he quickly found himself picking the ball out of his own net as a low cross found Jack Crago at the far post, who slid to tap in at close range.
The expected flurry of substitutions followed for Argyle, with only Battle, Bentley, Donaldson and the midfield trialist remaining on the field. Graham Carey had an immediate impact, picking out Battle with a raking pass, and the apprentice found Louis Rooney in the box. Clever feet from Rooney took him past two red shirts in a tight area before firing across goal, into the far corner.
Rooney almost doubled his tally straight away, but couldn't get enough purchase on his strike as a Donaldson corner was headed his way by the towering Nauris Bulvitis. The fifth goal came soon after, though, started by Jake Jervis latching onto a clearance. His shot was saved, but not cleared, and nice work from Battle was rewarded, finding the trialist who squared the ball back to Battle, six yards out, to net his second.
Jervis was causing havoc up front with his strength and pace, and he beat Ord to a long ball to win a penalty. Jervis dusted himself off and slotted in the spot kick himself - his fourth of pre-season already. Argyle were stepping up in class, and Carey stepped up a few gears himself to drift behind Tavistock's back line and curl a shot into the far corner for 7-2.
Nine goals once again in an Argyle pre-season game; this time shared somewhat in a more challenging affair, but plenty more positive signs for the 2016-17 campaign.
Argyle: 23 Luke McCormick (21 Trialist B), 2 Gary Miller (5 Nauris Bulvitis), 19 Jordan Bentley, 15 Sonny Bradley (4 Yann Songo'o), 16 Ben Purrington (3 Gary Sawyer); 11 Ryan Donaldson, 22 Trialist A, 18 Oscar Threlkeld (10 Graham Carey), 8 Alex Battle, 7 David Goodwillie (14 Jake Jervis), 9 Jimmy Spencer (20 Louis Rooney).