ARGYLE Development Phase Lead Coach Phil Stokes had a sense of pride in...
...his charges after their battling 2-2 draw against Scottish Category 1 Academy side Glasgow Rangers in Day Two of SuperCupNI.
The Young Pilgrims go into Wednesday's final group game, against County Armagh, ahead of the Gers, courtesy of Monday's 10-1 victory over Colombian side Alset.
Rangers had beaten Armagh 2-1 and must have wondered what had hit them at Scroggy Road, Limavady, as Argyle led 2-0 at the interval before facing a Rangers' revival in the second half.
"I was extremely proud of the lads," said Phil (pictured above). "Certainly in the first half, when we were outstanding and I don't think [Rangers] were expecting what was coming. The lads were terrific and I really can't praise their first-half performance highly enough.
"The character shown in the second half was a key factor as they could have let their heads go down and crumbled, but they didn't.
"This is what this tournament is all about. It tests people in different ways and there were a lot of lads on the pitch there today that stood up to a good Rangers side and came through what was a good test for us.
"They were a physical side and they posed more of threat in the second half and made it a very competitive game which was what we were expecting to happen after the first half."
Argyle were in an irrepressible mood in the first half after taking a fifth-minute lead when Mike Peck fired home from the penalty spot after Aaron Goulty had been felled in the area by Nathan Patterson.
It was almost 2-0, three minutes later, after Mani Skett's fine run set up Rio Garside to fire over from 20 yards.
A second goal finally arrived on 18 minutes when the again impressive Rio Garside crossed to the far post for skipper Isaac Burdon to head home from close range.
Goulty then fired over from the edge of the area but Argyle were forced to reorganise after the break as Garside failed to show after picking up an injury.
That was the signal for the Gers to turn the screw with Nicky Hogarth and Kieron McKechnie both hitting goalkeeper Max Childs' woodwork in a frantic goalmouth scramble.
Hogarth had better luck on 38 minutes when he smashed the ball into the roof of the Argyle net, and only a fine save by Childs denied Joshua McPake an equaliser.
Rangers were level, on 47 minutes, when imposing central defender Daniel Finlayson beat Childs to a near-post cross to powerfully head into the Argyle net.
Argyle can be proud of their efforts in denying their Scottish opponents a winner although it did take two fine saves from Childs to keep out efforts from McPake and Aidan Gibb.
Argyle: Max Childs, Reuben Collum, Matthew Roberts, Oliver Tomlinson, Isaac Burdon (capt), Mani Skett, Mike Peck, Dominic Osborne (Rubin Wilson 49), Rio Garside (Joe Seery half-time), Aaron Goulty, Harry Lampier.