Happy Hodgy

ACADEMY Director Kevin Hodges was thrilled with Argyle’s comfortable 7-2 win against Eastleigh in the first round of the FA Youth Cup at Home Park on Tuesday night.

The young Pilgrims were 4-0 inside half an hour, with Tom Purrington getting on the end of two set-pieces, Matt Ward finishing off a slick team move and Luke Jephcott scoring from the spot.

Eastleigh pulled one back just before half-time, and another after the break, but the Greens pulled away again, with goals from Cameron Sangster and substitute Rio Gardside coming after Eastleigh had netted an own goal.

“I’m very pleased,” said Kevin. “I thought it was a very good performance from everyone. We started very brightly, exactly the way we wanted to, with a very good couple of set plays which got us in front.

“We had a perfect start. I thought we passed the ball very well and exploited a few of their weaknesses. When we switched from side to side we opened them up quite a lot during that first period.

“Again, it’s a learning curve for a lot of our players because there was a period where they started to creep into the game, which is expected, but we need to manage those times a little bit better than we did. That second goal could’ve altered the course of the game especially if we had been playing against a team at our own level.

“To be fair, we got ourselves together again and obviously finished things off nicely. We had to make a few substitutions and get players on but overall it’s I suppose what you say ‘a job done’ and a lot of positives came out of it.

“I thought our midfield area we did really well and generally that’s where the majority of our attacks came from, but we got in behind them with some crosses.

“I thought we looked good going forward and we made a number of opportunities which thankfully we took.”

First year apprentice Tom Purrington’s brace got Argyle on their way, and Tom’s progression up the youth ranks shows he is following in the footsteps of older brother and former FA Youth Cup star Ben Purrington.

Ben was the Argyle youth team captain who scored twice en route to a thrilling 4-3 defeat to Aston Villa in the Third Round in 2013. He played 64 games as a professional for Argyle before moving to Rotherham in January 2017.

Hodges said: “I’ve been saying to Tom you’ve got to go in and attack the ball with a bit of purpose so that you can actually get on the end of things and he did that which I’m very pleased about.

“I thought Tom played very well tonight as a lot of them did but it was nice that he added goals to his game as well this evening which is obviously something we’ve been asking for.

“They’re a good family and they’re two great boys to work with for many years. They’ve got a great attitude and Tom is no different to Ben. Ben’s left footed but Tom’s naturally right footed, but they are very much the same type of character.”

Both Cameron Sangster and goalkeeper Michael Cooper have recently been involved in matches with the first team. They played full part in this victory, with Sangster getting on the scoresheet. Kevin said: “When you drop back with your own age group sometimes that can be difficult but I thought both boys handled it very well and as they always do.

“When they come back and train with us they don’t change which is something we try and breed within our academy. We’re thankful we have got young players like that.

The second round of the cup will be held at Home Park again and will either be against AFC Wimbledon or Marlow. “It’s always nice to have a home tie and naturally we are going to be looking forward to the next game,” said Kevin.