Argyle 6 Newport 1 - Report
Kennedy 39, 66, Jervis 42, 72, Carey 52, Taylor 58
by Rob McNichol
"HOW we get there, I don't care..."
For several weeks, the Green Army have sung about going to League One by any means necessary. In a game where Argyle needed ONLY a point to ensure promotion, Derek Adams and his 2016-17 heroes gave Home Park an afternoon it will never forget and strolled to promotion in emphatic style.
January acquisitions Matty Kennedy and Ryan Taylor scored three between them, while Adams' stalwarts Jake Jervis and Graham Carey got stuck in as well, while a late Newport consolation by Aaron Williams scarcely does justice to the word.
Plymouth Argyle has been through a lot in the last six or seven years. Two relegations, near financial extinction, clinging to league status; then, with the monetary ship steadied, play-off heartbreak on two occasions.
Is it worth getting too bogged down in the past? To start bringing up Japanese investments, P&A Group, preferred bidders and other phrases we heard every day about six years ago? Probably not, but we should take in the fact that our football club nearly evaporated, and that many people within the club made huge sacrifices to ensure Plymouth Argyle lived on.
There has been tension of consecutive play-off disappointments, at incremental levels, but that has been kids’ stuff compared the emotion of even seeing the team take to the field at Shrewsbury, on Saturday, August 6, 2011. It was a mini-miracle, to even get a starting 11 out that day, although the season was a struggle.
Then there was Rochdale, with survival by default on the last day of the season, staring, not into a financial abyss, but into the footballing one. How would the spirit of resurgam been able to cope had Argyle’s EFL status been lost?
Some 2,081 days after Shrewsbury, we can finally say that the first big mission has been accomplished, and that, as the song goes: "We’re Plymouth Argyle, and we’re on our way back."
There is only so long one can live in the past, or to use sins of those before to justify the struggle. This feels like the moment to consign the last six seasons to its historic past, and start with a new Day One, in League One.
In such a way that Plymouth, as a city, can no longer blame the Luftwaffe for any of its troubles, and is pulling itself back towards where it should be, now the city’s football club must follow suit. The time for licking wounds is done.
Names of those that have done their bit for Argyle are too numerous to list here, but when you raise a glass to several heroes over the next few hours and days, do not omit those of Carl Fletcher and John Sheridan from that number.
What Fletcher and Sheridan salvaged and started, Derek Adams has finished. Operation Let’s Just Get Out Of This Division is finally complete. And how.
The only minor blot on this day, really, was that Sonny Bradley was not able to take his usual place in the Argyle starting 11 because of a thigh injury sustained against Portsmouth on Good Friday. This meant Bradley’s record of being ever-present this season had ended. Jakub Sokolik was recalled to the side; other than that, Argyle were unchanged.
From the outset, the Pilgrims set the tempo, with Taylor taking the first potshot at goal, following a strong header forward by David Fox. Antoni Sarcevic volleyed over shortly afterwards, and it was clear that the Pilgrims were not willing to see out the draw they needed.
Kennedy and Fox went close, before the Scottish winger, on loan from Newport's neighbours Cardiff, looped a cute header over Joe Day - and off came the shackles.
Newport's Mickey Dementriou and Day got in a muddle, allowing Jervis to sidle between them and stroke into an unguarded net to make the half-time score a comfortable looking 2-0.
After the break, Argyle were irresistible. Carey scored the third, jinking into the area and smashing home at Day's near post. Kennedy was the provider for the fourth firing low across the area, finding Taylor, whose cheeky backflick was only ever bound for the corner on a day like this.
Kennedy himself made it five; he possibly should have passed with others in better positions, but this was a day to savour, and he seemed to sense it. Kennedy looked up, curled past Day, and the Pilgrims wandered deeper into dreamland.
Jervis made it six, capitalising on outstanding work by Taylor, who won a header, held off two men, and teed up Jake, who crunched home with his left foot.
Other chances came and went too, notably a sudden chance for substitute right-back Gary Miller, yet to score for Argyle, but his effort was blocked. Seconds later, after a slick passing move, Miller teed up Carey for a curling effort that would have been the best goal of a ripe bunch.
In fairness to Newport, they worked extremely hard to get on the scoresheet, with McCormick making point blank saves from Tom Owen-Evans and Alex Samuel. Aaron Williams scored in injury-time to partially spoil the party, but I am sure Pilgrims will get over it rather quickly.
That is more than can be said for the effects of Monday evening - but we have earned it.
To the Green Army, Derek and the boys, thank you. For today, and for the season.
Good times: officially brought back.
Argyle (4-2-3-1): 23 Luke McCormick (capt); 18 Oscar Threlkeld (2 Gary Miller 78), 4 Yann Songo'o, 31 Jakub Sokolik, 3 Gary Sawyer; 7 Antoni Sarcevic, 24 David Fox (6 Connor Smith 76); 14 Jake Jervis, 10 Graham Carey (27 Craig Tanner 84), 16 Matty Kennedy; 19 Ryan Taylor. Substitutes (not used): 5 Nauris Bulvitis, 11 Ryan Donaldson, 21 Vincent Dorel (gk), 26 Arnold Garita.
Booked: Sawyer 61.
Newport County (3-5-2): 1 Joe Day; 17 Scot Bennett (19 Sid Nelson 75), 4 Darren Jones, 28 Mickey Demetriou; 18 David Pipe (capt, 2 Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, half-time), 38 Mitchell Rose, 8 Mark Randall (41 Aaron Williams 61), 20 Tom Owen-Evans, 3 Dan Butler; 27 Sean Rigg, 15 Alex Samuel. Substitutes (not used): 11 Jennison Myrie-Williams, 30 James Bittner (gk), 40 Ryan Bird, 42 Jaanai Gordon.
Booked: Jones 66.
Referee: Graham Horwood.
Attendance: 13,971 (337 away).