Plymouth Parkway 2
Sawyer, C Grant, J Grant, Edwards
ARGYLE’S first outing since their remote play-off qualification hopes were extinguished at Gillingham nine weeks previously was pretty well everything for which anyone could have hoped.
A run-out for 22 of the first-team squad – tick; of the senior pros, only injured Kyle Letheren, Antoni Sarcevic and Ryan Taylor were missing.
An entertaining Plymouth derby game in front of a sunshine crowd – tick.
Goals shared around, between Gary Sawyer, Grants Conor and Joel, and – perfectly – Ryan Edwards - tick.
Argyle’s opening 11 comprised a fairly even split of new Pilgrims and last season’s Greens, with four of the back-five new to the colours – goalkeeper Harry Burgoyne, right-back Joe Riley, and centre-backs Niall Canavan and Scott Wootton.
Midfielder Conor Grant and central forward Freddie Ladapo completed the starting sextet of summer signings, while four others – forward Calum Dyson, defenders Tafari Moore and Ashley Smith-Brown, and midfielder Peter Grant – sat out the first half.
The Parkway squad included the usual smattering of former Pilgrims who reached different levels in the club’s structure, ex pros Aaron Bentley, River Allen and Stewart Yetton among them. Connor McAuley, Kyle Moore and Teigan Rosenquest were familiar names, too, while, tangentially, Nick Milton is Guy Branston’s brother-in-law.
For all the new faces, it was one of the oldest of the old guard who opened Argyle’s 2018-19 account. Gary Sawyer, captaining the team after agreeing yet another contract extension with his boyhood club, finished well after cutting inside from his left-back slot and latching on to Ladapo’s ‘score, then’ assist.
Number two was not long coming, from No.15, Conor Grant, who took advantage of some hesitancy in Parkway’s under-pressure defence to nip in between defence and goalkeeper to tuck the ball home.
Grant and Sawyer did not show for the second half, and neither did any of their first-half team-mates as Argyle swapped their entire line-up and started the second 45 minutes with 11 changes. Wonderfully, the captain’s armband passed to Edwards.
As the healthy crowd was still working out who was who and where, Parkway halved the deficit after the tall Mike Smith profited from Shane Krac’s approach work.
Argyle did not hang about restoring, and then extending, their superiority.
First, a speedy break engineered down the right by Tafari Moore and Lionel Ainsworth was finished off – eventually – by Joel Grant.
Then, Gregg Wylde sent over the sweetest corner which begged Edwards to power home a header and the big man duly obliged. Moments like that must have seemed a million miles away in the darkest days of January.
Parkway pulled another back when Bentley headed home Allen’s corner, and the home side kept within touching distance thanks to some splendid goalkeeping from substitute Neal Osbourn and rusty first-game-back finishing.
All in all, though, a more than a satisfactory return to action for a squad now a month away from the start of the 2018-19 Sky Bet League One season.
Plymouth Parkway (4-4-2): 1 Kyle MOORE (13 Neal OSBOURN); 2 Aaron BENTLEY, 5 Rob FARKINS, 6 Nick MILTON, 3 Ryan LANE; 4 Christian Pople (18 Rocky NEAL), 11 Ben JOYCE (16 Jack RHEAd), 8 Shane KRAC (17 River ALLEN); 9 Mike SMITH, 10 Stewart YETTON (14 Connor McAULEY), 7 Mikey WILLIAMS (15 Teigan ROSENQUEST).
Argyle first half (4-3-3): 1 Harry BURGOYNE; 2 Joe RILEY, 25 Scott WOOTTON, 14 Niall CANAVAN, 3 Gary SAWYER (capt); 15 Conor GRANT, 8 David FOX, 6 Jamie NESS; 10 Graham CAREY, 18 Freddie LADAPO, 11 Ruben LAMEIRAS.
Argyle second half (4-3-3): 31 Michael COOPER; 22 Tafari MOORE, 5 Ryan EDWARDS (capt), 24 Peter GRANT, 23 Ashley SMITH-BROWN: 4 Yann SONGO’O, 16 Joel GRANT, 32 Cameron SANGSTER; 17 Lionel AINSWORTH, 18 Calum DYSON, 20 Gregg WYLDE.
Referee: Scott JACKSON.
Attendance: 1,650 est.