Match report for Tiverton Town

Tiverton Town 1
J Rogers pen 9

Argyle 2
Sarcevic 26, Blissett 79 

THE Pilgrims’ remained unbeaten on their pre-season tour of the Westcountry with a third victory in four days. Argyle manager Derek Adams used 20 of his 24-man first-team squad as goals from Antoni Sarcevic and Nathan Blissett secured a hard-fought win. 

The match was part testimonial, for the home side’s long-serving defender Tom Gardner and part trial, for – among others – former Home Park Academicians Ben Steer, Jake Miller and Callum Hall. It was also a decent work-out for Argyle as they continue to put the minutes into legs already aching from intensive training sessions. 

As he had promised, Adams stirred his selection pot, with the line-up at Ladysmead containing six of the players that had lined up at Saltash United on Saturday previously and five that had earlier contested matters at Plymouth Parkway.

One of the latter was Graham Carey, who started the game against Evostik League Southern Premier Division opponents in one of the deeper-lying midfield positions, alongside Sarcevic, in a 4-2-3-1. Ruben Lameiras was given the hole role behind Ryan Taylor, with Lionel Ainsworth and Joel Grant providing the attacking width. 

At the back, in front of captain Luke McCormick, were Ryan Edwards and Yann Songo’o, flanked by Oscar Threlkeld, on the right, and Gary Sawyer, on the left.

For the second time in three pre-season friendlies, Argyle found themselves chasing the game. Threlkeld and Tiverton central striker Jordan Rogers both stretched for a ball that had gone loose in the penalty area and when Rogers got to it first, by a small margin, the Argyle defender had nowhere to go except into his opponent. Rogers converted the resultant penalty. 

Tivvy’s largely direct, robust approach, contrasted Argyle’s attempts to pass and move, with the Pilgrims being further thwarted in their aims by a lush carpet of grass made still slower by a full day of rain.

The home side used local knowledge and home advantage well and created several half-chances, the best of which saw Liam Gregory volley over after stealing in at the far post.

The Pilgrims stuck at it and levelled just after the halfway point of the first period when Taylor stole in to nick the ball off the toes of Town goalkeeper Martin Rice. He kept his composure to turn and roll the ball into the path of Sarcevic, who drove it home.

The competitive game assumed a feisty edge as half-time approached and Argyle had two decent penalty shouts turned down before Grant obliged Rice to make a smart goal-line stop following a volley from Ainsworth’s fine low cross.

The second-half saw the Pilgrims maintain the control which had been theirs since Sarcveic’s leveller and Lameiras saw Rice claw out a shot after more good wing work by Ainsworth.

Just after the hour, Argyle introduced all ten substitutes, with only Gary Sawyer, of the original starters, remaining on the field. They switched to a 4-4-2, with Alex Fletcher and Blissett sharing duties up front and David Fox anchoring a midfield diamond.

With Tiverton also transplanting freely, the last half-hour was effectively a totally different mini-game.

It was won 11 minutes from time when Fox tried his luck with a low drive from 25 yards which made its way through a thicket of legs before Blissett continued his pleasing habit of often being in the right place at the right time to tuck the ball home at the far post. 

Tiverton Town (5-3-2): 1 Martin Rice; 2 Nick Hurst (16 Jake Miller 67), 5 Ben Mammola (16 Callum Hall 67), 4 Jamie Price (capt, 18 James Mudge 80), 6 Tom Gardner (12 Owen Howe half-time), 3 Liam Gregory (14 Harry Horton 62); 8 Michael Landricombe, 7 Jamie Short (14 Ben Carter half-time), 11 Ollie Knowles (16 Glenn Gould half-time); 9 Jordan Rogers (17 George Rogers 67), 10 Tom Bath (15 Ben Steer half-time). Substitutes (not used): 12 Joe Charles, 17 James Richards.

Argyle (until 62nd minute, 4-2-3-1): 23 Luke McCormick (capt); 18 Oscar Threlkeld, 5 Ryan Edwards, 4 Yann Songo’o, 3 Gary Sawyer; 7 Antoni Sarcevic, 10 Graham Carey; 8 Lionel Ainsworth, 11 Ruben Lameiras, 16 Joel Grant; 19 Ryan Taylor. 

Argyle (from 62nd minute, 4-4-2): 1 Robbert te Loeke; 2 Gary Miller, 26 Jordan Bentley, 3 Gary Sawyer (capt), 17 Aaron Taylor-Sinclair; 14 Jake Jervis, 24 David Fox, 28 Cameron Sangster, 21 Gregg Wylde; 13 Nathan Blissett, 27 Alex Fletcher.

Referee: Marc Whalley.

Attendance: 507.