ARGYLE Ladies were sensationally knocked out of the National League Cup in the determining round and will now contest the Plate competition.
The Pilgrims had gone into the game having beaten Exeter 8-3 in a pre-season friendly game but, unfortunately, they were without striker Natasha Knapman, midfielders Zoe Cunningham and Ellie Bishop, and central defender Mollie Taylor, and it showed, as they never really got to grips with the game.
Jessie Jones played the striker role in the first half with Helen Bleazard leading the line in the second half. On a very hot afternoon, Argyle went behind in the 19th minute when new signing Anthea Kaptein fired Exeter into the lead.
Argyle plugged away and drew level 11 minutes before half time when the lively Amber Pollock fired in from distance. The Greens were caught out again almost on half time when Kaptein gave Exeter a 2-1 half time lead.
Argyle came out for the second half on the front foot and, within a minute of the restart had drawn level through Jones. Unfortunately, two minutes later they fell behind again when Emma Britten scored from close range. Kaptein who completed her hat trick in the 66th minute to put the tie almost out of reach.
The Pilgrims kept battling away and deservedly reduced the arrears in the 72nd minute through Pollock's second goal. Manager Dave Leonard brought on Beth Everson for Darcey Hepworth three minutes later but Argyle failed to grab an equaliser and it was Exeter who progressed.
Leonard said: “Congratulations to Exeter and I want to go on record to say they put on a gallant performance and thoroughly deserve what they got out of the game. I wish them all the best in the nest round of the competition.
“That wasn't us, we were way below the standard I expect at this football club. It was one of those bad days and I could rarely give anyone over four out of ten. We just didn't operate and it was one of these days where eleven players didn't operate and that disappoints me. It was a bad day at the office, it is what it is and we will be better off for it.”
Argyle squad: Becky Kyle, Darcey Hepworth, Faye Ivall, Ebony Dover, Kate Middleton, Leah Burridge, Helen Bleazard, Kayley Lane, Becky Dandridge, Amber Pollock, Jessie Jones, Beth Everson, Lucy Solloway.
Plymouth Argyle Development 6 Lakeside Athletic 5
In the meantime, the Development team were given a good work out by local side Lakeside Athletic.
The Development side went into this game once more relying heavily on youth. Sixteen year-old Leah Johnson was given her debut. Also in the starting line up was the welcome return of American Rachel Heron.
The young Pilgrims went into half time 4-1 in front thanks to a Nicola Champion double, and goals from Scarlett Williams and a Rachel Javan penalty. Champion went on to complete her hat-trick before knocking in her fourth goal although Lakeside battled well to keep the deficit to just one goal.
Manager Rob Bonney commented: “To be honest, we were in complete control of the game up until half time but when we lost another two players early in the second half [through injury], it was a game-changer.
“Lakeside were constantly making changes and were able to refresh their team, I have nothing but praise for our eleven who had to play through that heat to see the game through. They have trained hard all through the pre-season and it certainly showed.
“Their passing and pressing game in the first half was impressive and their energy levels in the second half equally impressive. Argyle would like to thank Lakeside for coming into the fixture at short notice, when our original opponents pulled out and playing their part in an entertaining game.”
Squad: Maddie Walsh, Jodie Randall, Maddy Leppard , Rachel Javan, Leah Johnson, Beth Cowd, Maisie Williams, KIara Robins, Scarlett Williams, Nicola Champion, Chardonnay James, Tamsin Keat, Milan Barros, Rachel Heron.