DORSET draw sets Argyle up for Dutch trip...
Shephard pen 57
ARGYLE ended their away pre-season schedule in this country, maintaining their record of never having been headed in any of seven unbeaten matches and taking their tally to 38 goals.
However, as they had been in the only other game that they did not win, at Torquay, they were denied a sixth victory by a penalty, their third conceded in warm-up games.
After a tight first half on a dry, hard, surface and under a cloudless sky, Jordan Slew fired the Pilgrims ahead early in the second half following some splendid foraging by Louis Rooney. The lead lasted less than five minutes before Chris Shephard levelled from 12 yards.
The match marked a first appearance under his own name for the latest of manager Derek Adams’ 13 summer signings, David Fox. Previously, the midfielder’s impressive contributions to the Pilgrims’ pre-season games had been as ‘Trialist A’.
There was also a first start since the opening warm-up match at St Blazey three weeks previously for striker Slew, whose subsequent participation had been limited by ankle problems.
The Weymouth starting line-up included the same number of men who have played competitive matches for the Pilgrims – Jordan Copp, Dan Smith and Stewart Yetton – as Argyle’s own starting 11, which is some indication of the changes that have been made at Home Park this summer.
Another is that only two of the Pilgrims’ 20-man squad – Luke McCormick and Ben Purrington –had played a part in proceedings when the two sides met previously, two years earlier, and drew 2-2.
Argyle, back in a starting 4-3-3 formation, were as solid as they had been in their six previous matches, in which they conceded only one goal from open play. The United Nations defence of Scotmsan Gary Miller, Frenchman Yann Songo’o, Latvian Nauris Bulvitis and Devon’s own Ben Purrington let nothing past.
The competition for places which the manager has succeeded in generating also ensured that there were some tasty challenges from the Pilgrims, one of which led to a rare friendly yellow card being shown to Connor Smith. ‘Friendly’ being the operative word – in a league match, the young Irishman might not have completed the game.
Up front, the best chance of a hard-fought first half came when Slew flew down the left and crossed to the far post, to where captain Jake Jervis had made ground. However, the skipper was unable to direct his header on target.
The opening two minutes of the second half saw more potency from the Pilgrims than the entire first. Slew had two shots well saved by Terras’ player-manager Jason Matthews, and Rooney fired wide.
The same two strikers then combined to put the Pilgrims in front. Rooney chased down a backpass and dispossessed Matthews on the bye-line before tapping the ball back to Slew, who fired the ball past a caught-unawares defence that was scrambling to cover their manager’s embarrassment.
The home side levelled from the penalty spot after a coming together between Yann Songo’o, who flung himself at a loose ball, and Mark Cooper, who was in between the Argyle defender and the ball. It looked harsh, but Shephard did not dwell on the fairness of the decision and smashed the ball past Vincent Dorel.
Adams then made an octuple substitution, bring on his entire nine-man bench apart from apprentice defender Jordan Bentley.
It took a tremendous double stop from one of them, goalkeeper Luke McCormick, to maintain Argyle’s unbeaten pre-season effort, the brilliantly thwarting Ben Thomson in a one-on-one before recovering to beat out Sam Jordan’s powerful follow-up shot.
Weymouth (4-2-3-1): 1 Jason Matthews (13 Dan Thomas 57); 2 Ashley Wells, 6 Calvin Brooks, 5 Jake Wannell, 3 Mark Cooper (12 Tiago Marques 80); 4 Dean Evans (14 Ben Thomson 58), 8 Billy Lowes (16 Sam Jordan 70); 7 Dan Smith (17 Charlie Davis half-time), 11 Chris Shephard, 10 Jordan Copp (18 Mark Molesley 58); 9 Stewart Yetton (capt, Conor Jevon 57). Substitute (not used): 15 Jack Vallis.
Argyle (4-3-3): 21 Vincent Dorel (Luke McCormick 66) ; 2 Gary Miller (17 Jordan Bentley 90), 4 Yann Songo’o (15 Sonny Bradley 66), 5 Nauris Bulvitis, 16 Ben Purrington (3 Gary Sawyer 66); 11 Ryan Donaldson (18 Oscar Threlkeld 66), 24 David Fox (10 Graham Carey 66), 6 Connor Smith; 14 Jake Jervis (capt, 22 David Ijaha 66), 8 Jordan Slew (7 David Goodwillie 66), 20 Louis Rooney (Jimmy Spencer 66).
Booked: Smith 30, Donaldson 68.
Referee: Martin Underhay.