Argyle 2 Exeter 2 - Argyle win shoot-out 5-3
Edwards 19, Blissett 75
McAlinden 13, Edwards 70
Argyle won penalty shoot-out 5-3
Wylde (Argyle) SCORED 1-0
James (Exeter) SAVED 1-0
Jay (Exeter) SCORED 1-1
Jervis (Argyle) SCORED 2-1
Sarcevic (Argyle) SCORED 3-1
Sweeney (Exeter) SCORED 3-2
Taylor (Exeter) SCORED 3-3
Lameiras (Argyle) SCORED 4-3
Ciftci (Argyle) SCORED 5-3
IF the pattern of Sky Bet League One matches is starting to feel a bit repetitive to Argyle fans, at least the Checkatrade Trophy is on hand to dish out the right kind of reiteration.
Where in the league there are deflections and red cards, in the Checkatrade there are 2-2 draws and penalty glory, at Home Park.
For the second time in the competition, Argyle gained two points via a 2-2 draw and a win on spot kicks. For 180 minutes of hard graft against first Chelsea Under-21s and now Exeter City, the Pilgrims have doubled up by hitting ten perfect penalties.
Argyle seemed to have decided their latest tactic: if scoring the first goal in a game is still beyond them, then equalising fairly quickly dulls the pain of going behind. They did it twice, first after Liam McAlindon slip through to give Exeter the lead, Ryan Edwards powered in a header to level the scores six minutes later. In the second period, Kyle Edwards put the Grecians back in front, but barely five minutes had elapsed before Nathan Blissett slotted in for a second leveller.
The draw meant kicks from the penalty mark for an additional point, and once again, as against Chelsea, Argyle were faultless. Gregg Wylde, Jake Jervis, Antoni Sarcevic, Ruben Lameiras and Nadir Ciftci all scored their efforts, mostly after Kyle Letheren had saved from Exeter captain Lloyd James.
Before the game, the eyecatching thing to take from the teamsheet was that Derek Adams had made just one change to the Argyle line-up from Saturday's game at Bristol Rovers. That change was at right back, with Jakub Sokolik replacing Gary Miller. Miller's sending off at Rovers suspends him from the next three league games, but he had been eligible to meet City. Derek, though, gave Sokolik, who will inevitably replace Miller for three games, should Oscar Threlkeld not make it back from injury, an extra game to settle into the position.
Sonny Bradley, who will miss Saturday's game against Fleetwood to serve the final game of a suspension of his own, was also eligible to play, but Derek felt it sufficient that Bradley be named on the bench. Continuity seemed to be the watchword for Adams.
Paul Tisdale, the Exeter boss, had no such compunction, and made eight changes from the team that won 4-1 at home to Morecambe on Saturday. One such inclusion was Hiram Boateng, who had a pair of successful loan spells under Adams at Home Park, two seasons ago. A brief visitor that campaign, also on loan from Crystal Palace, was Luke Croll, and he too took a spot against his old side from across the county.
The game settled in to an early pattern, which would sustain for much of the evening, of Argyle trying patiently to break City down, with Exeter relying on fast, efficient breaks for their dangerous moments. Both approaches, to an extent, were successful.
Diminuative - the polite word for short - Matt Jay, the Exeter centre forward, was a constant menace, with hard work and quality touches, and it was from a precise through ball that he played in strike partner McAlindon for the opening goal. Argyle had been on top, but had nothing to show from it at that point. Plus ca change.
Jay came close to hitting a quickfire second which would have rocked Argyle, but Letheren saved well, and Argyle began to build their way back at City. With Graham Carey on the pitch, it was perhaps a surprise to see Wylde taking a right wing corner, but a well flighted delivery was headed in by Edwards at the near post, and Argyle had relatively quick parity.
Buoyed by their first goal in the first half of any game this season, the Pilgrims began to push to get ahead in the game. Jamie Ness struck just wide from range, and Carey volleyed not far wide, as City got to the break level.
Sarcevic looked as though he may have finally put Argyle in front ten minutes into the second half, following good work by Blissett and Jervis, but the midfielder was marginally offside when finishing the move.
Midway through the second half, Argyle took the now customary double-blow, as Carey was substituted, nursing an ankle knock, minutes before Kyle Edwards was allowed a little too much space on the left-wing, before rifling home an excellent finish into the far corner.
Exeter's main threats during the evening tended come from slide rule passes between or over Argyle's defence, so there was a touch of irony about Argyle's equaliser. Lameiras, Carey's busy replacement, flicked deftly through a crowd to Blissett, who calmly placed the ball beyond Exeter goalkeeper James Hamon.
City went back to their favourite approach, and it took Letheren to make a telling intervention at Jay's feet to retain the scoreline. The same player then flicked coolly from a left-wing cross and onto the bar, as both sides showed intent to win the full three points on offer.
Neither could settle it, though, and when Wylde scored but James missed, the Greens were in pole position. No taker missed from that point, and when Ciftci - a 90th minute substitute for the express purpose of scoring from the spot - converted, Argyle had sealed their fourth point in the competition.
Argyle (4-2-3-1): 25 Kyle Letheren; 20 Jakub Sokolik, 5 Ryan Edwards, 4 Yann Songo’o, 3 Gary Sawyer (capt); 7 Antoni Sarcevic, 6 Jamie Ness; 14 Jake Jervis, 10 Graham Carey (11 Ruben Lamieras 67), 21 Gregg Wylde; 13 Nathan Blissett (9 Nadir Ciftci 90). Substitutes (not used): 15 Sonny Bradley, 16 Joel Grant, 17 Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, 27 Alex Fletcher, 31 Michael Cooper (gk).
Booked: Ness 62.
Exeter City (4-4-2) 13 James Hamon; 22 Kane Wilson, 5 Troy Archibald-Henville (2 Pierce Sweeney 81), 23 Luke Croll, 21 Dean Moxey (3 Craig Woodman 67); 4 Lloyd James(capt), 44 Hiram Boateng (25 Jake Taylor 76), 31 Jack Sparkes, 28 Kyle Edwards; 20 Matt Jay, 19 Liam McAlinden. Substitutes (not used): 1 Christy Pym (gk), 11 Jayden Stockley, 33 Reuben Reid, 39 Troy Brown.
Booked: Croll 83.
Referee: Chris Sarginson.
Attendance: 3,800 (286 away).