Argyle 1 Bristol Rovers 1
B Moore 40
Bristol Rovers 1
Argyle won 5-3 on penalties
Rudden (Argyle) scored 1-0
Bennett (Rovers) missed 1-0
Randell (Argyle) scored 2-0
Kelly (Rovers) scored 2-1
Lolos (Argyle) scored 3-1
Craig (Rovers) scored 3-2
Sarcevic (Argyle) scored 4-2
Adeboyejo (Rovers) scored 4-3
G Cooper (Argyle) scored 5-3
ARGYLE collected two points from their opening Leasing.com Trophy fixture as they ran out 5-3 winners on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Home Park.
Byron Moore’s first goal for the Greens cancelled out Tom Nichols' earlier strike for Bristol Rovers in a frantic first half.
With both teams failing to get a winner in the second period, the game went to penalties where Argyle scored all five, with Kyle Bennett missing for Rovers.
It was a heavily rotated Argyle squad, with nine changes in all from the weekend’s game. Only Gary Sawyer and Alex Palmer kept their places in the team, while Will Aimson made his first appearance in an Argyle shirt and 18-year-old striker Klaidi Lolos was given his full debut.
Despite the changes, it was clear Argyle’s style of play was here to stay, as the home side boasted the majority of possession, building out from the back as usual.
Although Argyle enjoyed much of the ball, the home team struggled to create clear-cut opportunities, and it was down to Antoni Sarcevic to add an extra dimension to the attack.
The midfielder went on one of his typical direct runs down the centre of the park before laying the ball off to the onrushing Jose Baxter, whose mishit shot was easy enough for the Bristol Rovers ‘keeper Jordi van Stoppershoef to gather.
Argyle kept growing into the game and new man Lolos set up Sarcevic on the edge of the box, only for his drive to be blocked by a combination of Rovers defenders.
However, the game was not going entirely in the home side’s favour, as the Pirates’ right-wing combination of Alex Rodman and Victor Adeboyejo was starting to cause Argyle problems.
It was through the Rovers right flank that the deadlock was broken as Rodman’s cross was dropped by Palmer, just before the half-hour mark, allowing former Exeter striker Nichols to acrobatically volley in at the far post.
It was an uncharacteristic error from Palmer who has been winning many plaudits from the Green Army this season. However, the Greens rallied after the goal and it was Sarcevic again who provided the spark for Plymouth’s equaliser.
His rasping drive from the right-hand side of the box rattled the post only for the ball to fall perfectly in the path of the onrushing Moore. Like every good striker, Moore was following in at the far post to score his first goal for Argyle and against his former club.
The Green Army did npt want the half to end and almost went into the break ahead as George Cooper’s clever step-over allowed him to bend a shot just shy of the left-hand post.
Once the second half was under way, it was Rovers back in the ascendancy, with Palmer having to stay strong to deny Josh Nichols one on one.
Despite the frantic start, Argyle’s defence stood strong and, 65 minutes into the game, Lolos had an excellent chance to open his account. Adam Randell’s driven free-kick somehow found its way to the young striker, who was brilliantly denied by the Rovers ‘keeper.
As the second half went on, the game really began to open up, with both sides looking for a winner. Cooper once again showed great feet to beat his man before cutting in on his right foot, only to be denied by the ‘keeper.
It was not long before the action moved up the other end as Palmer did well to block Tyler Smith’s effort from close range.
Argyle had one more chance to earn all three points through the impressive George Cooper his shot was unable to trouble the visiting custodian.
With the game ending level, Argyle collected two points with an excellent display of finishing as all five penalty-takers found the back of the net.
Argyle (3-5-2): 24 Alex Palmer (gk); 25 Josh Grant, 4 Will Aimson (5 Scott Wootton 45), 3 Gary Sawyer (capt); 22 Tafari Moore, 14 Jose Baxter (40 Jude Boyd 81), 20 Adam Randell, 7 Antoni Sarcevic, 32 George Cooper; 17 Byron Moore (39 Zak Rudden 66), 19 Klaidi Lolos. Substitutes (not used): 1 Mike Cooper (gk), 8 Joe Edwards, 15 Conor Grant, 26 Michael Peck.
Bristol Rovers (3-5-2): 1 Jordi van Stoppershoef (gk); 2 Mark Little, 5 Tony Craig (capt), 24 Rollin Menayese; 33 Alex Rodman, 36 Cam Hargreaves, 23 Kyle Bennett, 6 Ed Upson (4 Abu Ogogo 5, 35 Luca Hoole 66), 18 Michael Kelly; 10 Tom Nichols (17 Tyler Smith 75), 29 Victor Adeboyejo. Substitutes (not used): 15 Alfie Kilgour, 25 Deon Moore, 28 Lucas Tomlinson, 31 Alexis Andre Jnr (gk).
Booked: Abu Ogogo 14.
Referee: Keith Stroud.
Attendance: 2,518 (96 away).