ARGYLE Ladies kept up their impressive recent form by coming away from Milton Keynes worthy winners in the FA Women’s National League Southern Division and recording their fifth straight victory in the process.
The Pilgrims travelled up on the Saturday to ensure they were fit and ready to go, and they rewarded the management staff with another five star performance. Argyle included new signing Bow Jackson for her full debut and started with another new signing Lydia Huntley on the bench, alongside Zoe Cunningham and Faye Ivall, who dropped down from last week’s winning team at Hounslow.
Becky Kyle took her place in goal in front of the back four of Jackson, Kate Middleton, Mollie Taylor and Leah Burridge, who switched to left back. Kayley Lane, Becky Dandridge, Jessie Jones occupied the midfield with Helen Bleazard and Amber Pollock out wide, and Natasha Knapman as the sole striker.
In very windy and wet conditions in front of a gate of 1,109 at Stadium:MK, Argyle tore into the hosts from the start and peppered the home goal with a number of good efforts. The breakthrough finally came in the 20th minute when Dandridge raced clear before producing a clinical finish.
Four minutes later, top scorer Natasha Knapman pounced to make it 2-0. Argyle continued to dominate but were caught out in the 37th minute when captain Katie Middleton met a corner with a firm header, which unfortunately went into the net for an unlikely own goal.
Roared on by the small band of the London Branch of the Argyle supporters club, the Greens came out for the second half looking to push on, which they achieved thanks to an excellent finish from Bleazard, just over a minute into the half.
Milton Keynes played better in the second half but Argyle’s superiority was never more epitomised than when Jones picked up the ball and fired in an unstoppable 25-yard drive. Milton Keynes had their chances but couldn't find a way past the reliable Kyle and a well-marshalled defence.
The good lead allowed manager Dave Leonard to shuffle the pack, bringing on Cunningham for Pollock (65) and a double change five minutes later, with Ivall coming on for Burridge and Huntley for Jackson. It didn't matter as Argyle continued to hold sway and they were rewarded in the last minute when Lane worked her way through the defence to seal the victory.
“The girls just do everything that is expected of them, they dominated large periods of the game,” said Leonard. “They go out every week and perform and I am so proud of them, they are as honest as they come.”
Remarking on Middleton's own goal, Leonard said: “It was just one of those things, she won the header but their goal came ten minutes before half-time, which made a game of it.”
Leonard once again wished to thank the London Supporters Branch for cheering the team on. “The girls really appreciated it,” he said. “For them to turn up to watch is really commendable.
“They come every away game, we got them involved and they loved it, they are the salt of the earth. All the girls thanked them at the end and they had a photograph taken with the girls. It’s been a great weekend. We've got 13 goals in two away games and points to show for it.”
Argyle: Becky Kyle, Bow Jackson (Lydia Huntley), Kate Middleton, Leah Burridge (Faye Ivall), Helen Bleazard, Kayley Lane, Becky Dandridge, Amber Pollock (Zoe Cunningham), Natasha Knapman, Jessica Jones, Mollie Taylor.
FA Women’s South-West League Western Division
Argyle Development 6 Alphington 1
ARGYLE Development eventually got off the mark in the league at the fourth attempt thanks to this convincing win.
It was an unusual match as Argyle could hardly string two passes together in the first half on a bouncy pitch in a howling gale but went into the half time break 1-0 down thanks to a Helen Kukor goal.
The second half was a complete contrast as whatever was said at half time had the desired effect and they came out of the blocks looking a different team. All week the girls have had the word "standards" bombarded at them, so they knew their performance dare not fall below a certain level.
They were quick off the mark and Dani Wyatt was first to threaten but Ash Brown in the Alphington goal blocked her effort. Kiara Robins then released Lucy Solloway but her cross had no takers. Alphington responded with Kukor firing wide. Robins was the next to threaten but unfortunately Kukor raced clear to fire past goalkeeper Maddie Walsh.
Argyle rang the changes at half time with Rachel Javan suffering a head injury and Dani Wyatt having suffered a stress fracture in her foot. Four personnel changes at the interval and a system tweak seemed to do the trick as they were soon on level terms.
Slick passing between Robins, Jodie Randall and Milan Barros released Beth Cowd, who raced half the length of the pitch to slam the ball into roof of the net. Walsh then denied Kukor but Argyle were now in full flow and an in swinging Beck corner saw the Pilgrims take the lead when a defender turned the ball it into her own net.
The interplay between the players now was a joy to watch as they turned up the pressure and a through ball from Robins put Lucy Solloway in for Argyle's third. Within five minutes, Beth Cowd went in bravely for a header but was clattered by Brown. Maisie Williams slotted in the resulting penalty.
Alphington were now on the back foot and a desperate challenge on flying young Beth Everson ended with Jodie Randall firing in the free kick. Argyle continued to create chances and Solloway, Champion, Williams, Cowd and Everson all went close. Walsh was eventually brought into the action when she tipped a Wright free kick around a post. It was Argyle who had the final say when another Beck corner caused panic and Ebony Dover smashed the ball home from six yards
Manager Rob Bonney was delighted with the performance. “Our build-up play in the first half was decent but we just got anxious in the final third and snatched at things or our pass selection was poor,” he said.
“Second-half, we changed the system around and personnel and it gave us another dimension. We looked a threat every time we attacked and we played some very good passing football through the thirds. The girls beat a very capable Alphington team, so now we move on and build on that.”
Development Squad: Maddie Walsh, Rachel Heron, Rachel Javan, Ebony Dover, Jodie Randall, Lucy Solloway, Kiara Robins, Steph Beck, Hannah Brock, Dani Wyatt, Nicola Champion. Maisie Williams, Milan Barros, Beth Everson, Beth Cowd, Sally Salter.