ARGYLE made it six wins out of six with their hardest pre-season test of the year against Torquay United as goals from Graham Carey and Joel Grant handed Derek Adams’ men a 2-0 win at Plainmoor.
The Pilgrims struggled to get ahead against a resilient Gulls side who pressed Argyle high up the pitch. It took a delightful first-half Graham Carey effort to separate the teams before Joel Grant secured the victory in the final moments with a header.
Argyle could have scored a second earlier than they did, as Jake Jervis won and missed a penalty. Torquay also had chances to get on the scoresheet as they hit the woodwork twice.
Adams started with a strong 11 at Plainmoor, as Argyle furthered their pre-season preparations. Luke McCormick started in goal for the Pilgrims, the two Garys took to the field at full-back - Miller taking the right and Sawyer taking the left; meanwhile, Yann Songo’o partnered Ryan Edwards at the heart of the Argyle defence.
Moving into the midfield, David Fox and Antoni Sarcevic protected the Argyle defence, whilst Gregg Wylde and Graham Carey added attacking width, with Ruben Lameiras, who bagged his fourth pre-season goal at Weston on the weekend in attacking midfield, just behind Jake Jervis, who had scored a brace at Weston.
Argyle’s Nathan Blissett missed out on the return to his former club as he and his wife have just had their first baby. Adams named 10 substitutes, the most notable being the return of Sonny Bradley.
The home side line-up with a few familiar faces in midfield, with former Pilgrims Luke Young and Jake Gosling starting for the Gulls. Furthermore, Torquay’s bench consisted of a certain Rory Fallon.
Almost ironically, the warm summer evening at Plainmoor signalled the return of the football season, yet the sun was coasting downwards from the moment the whistle was blown. Argyle’s most prestigious pre-season friendly of this campaign was to start in glistening sunshine, but was sure to end under the floodlights.
The game began with a high tempo and either side had half-chances, Luke Young firing over for the Gulls and David Fox rocketing a long-range strike over also. Torquay had the first serious chance of the game, with a near-post corner being flicked to the back post where it was met by the oncoming Sean McGinty, who failed to head goalwards.
Argyle began to control the game, albeit Torquay’s high pressure meant the Pilgrims had a lot of the ball in the middle of the park. It was going to need a little bit of a different approach to break down the Gulls and Argyle had the answer.
Carey picked up the ball on the right. He cut inside and played the ball into Sarcevic, who returned it to Carey. Then, what happened next was a thing of beauty. Argyle’s Irish magician curled the ball first time from the edge of the box, with his effort crashing against the post before ending up in the back of the net.
The Gulls were close to instantly forcing their way back into the game but Sawyer was to the rescue for Argyle as he managed to block a Jake Gosling strike from the edge of the area.
The early embraces of the second-half were action-packed, with both sides having opportunities to score. Argyle came close after a quick short-corner routine found the feet of Fox, and was whipped into the box and met with a powerful header by Songo’o. Unfortunately for the Pilgrims, Ryan Clarke matched the effort and parried away Songo’o's header well out of the box.
Argyle again came close, but the penalty appeals were turned away as Wylde went down in the box. The hosts replied with a similarly close effort, as Jamie Reid cut in from the left and crashed an effort off the right post. The Gulls weren’t done there, though.
James Gray controlled a long ball over his shoulder with his left foot, before rifling a volley at the crossbar. It rebounded high and wide, though, and the Pilgrims got away with their lead in tact.
Next, it was Argyle’s chance to go agonisingly close. Wylde burst down the left wing and pulled a low cross back to Carey, who side-footed an effort goal wards. Carey’s effort was blocked, but the deflection ran free and Jervis beat Higgins to the loose ball, going down under the tackle for an Argyle penalty.
Once he had won the penalty, Jervis stepped up to take it. With little argument from his team-mates, Jervis stepped up and side-footed an effort to the left of Ryan Clarke. The Gulls’ ’keeper was equal to the strike though and dived to his left to make the save.
Argyle doubled their lead in the dying moments. Lionel Ainsworth, who was on as a substitute, burst down the right to fizz in a cross that earned Argyle a corner. Carey then curled a cross in from the right, which was met by the head of Joel Grant, to direct the ball into the bottom left corner.
Six games into pre-season and six wins for Argyle. This was the hardest test so far for the Pilgrims, against a resolute Torquay side. A test that Argyle passed with flying colours.
Torquay United (4-4-2): 1 Ryan Clarke; 23 Ryan Higgins, 18 Yan Klukowski, 5 Sean McGinty, 7 Sam Chaney; 11 Jake Gosling, 8 Luke Young, 4 Damon Lathrope, 19 Jamie Reid (Yemi Odubade 62); 17 James Gray (2 Will Hancox 74), 10 Ruairi Keating (Rory Fallon 62). Substitutes (not used): 20 Neal Osbourn, 25 Tallan Mitchell, Harry Bell.
Argyle (4-2-3-1): 23 Luke McCormick; 2 Gary Miller, 5 Ryan Edwards, 4 Yann Songo’o, 3 Gary Sawyer; 7 Antoni Sarcevic, 24 David Fox; 21 Gregg Wylde (16 Joel Grant 74), 11 Ruben Lameiras, 10 Graham Carey; 14 Jake Jervis (8 Lionel Ainsworth 74). Substitutes (not used): 1 Robbert Te Loeke, 15 Sonny Bradley, 17 Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, 19 Ryan Taylor, 20 Jakub Sokolik, 26 Jordan Bentley, 27 Alex Fletcher, 28 Cameron Sangster.
Attendance: 1,780 (815 away).