Niall Ennis spins away from his marker

Report | Argyle 0 Peterborough United 2

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Argyle 0

Peterborough United 2
Jones 28, Joe Taylor 90+3

In the first of two home ties against Peterborough United in a matter of days, a much-changed Argyle side bowed out of the Carabao Cup in the first round.

Ricky-Jade Jones had given the visitors a 28th-minute lead, and the Greens were made to pay for their inability to convert significant second-half pressure when Joe Taylor rolled into an empty net on the break in stoppage time, with goalkeeper Mike Cooper committed up the field in search of a dramatic leveller.

Argyle manager Steven Schumacher rotated his side to give an opportunity to those who have been on the outskirts of the squad in the opening weeks of the season.

Among the seven changes were Wolverhampton Wanderers loanee Nigel Lonwijk, making his debut in defence alongside Brendan Galloway - himself making a competitive return after a long-term lay-off. Meanwhile, second-year scholar Jack Endacott was rewarded for a fine pre-season campaign with his competitive football debut.

A patient start gave way to the first shot on goal from either side on 17 minutes, as tireless work from Niall Ennis on the half-way line played Luke Jephcott into the left channel. He broke beyond his marker and created an opening to shoot from just inside the box, but the effort with his weaker left foot was comfortable for Posh stopper Lucas Bergstrom.

Peterborough’s first opportunity came on 25 minutes, moments before a temperature mandated drinks break, when David Ajiboye smashed a cross-shot at goal from the right corner of the penalty box, but Cooper swatted it away to safety.

The drinks break did Argyle no favours, as the visitors took the lead immediately afterwards. Joel Randall latched onto a fortuitous ricochet 25 yards out after a midfield contest, before laying the ball into Jones, who took a touch before steering the ball low into the far corner with his left foot.

On the half hour, Posh carved out another opportunity. Randall’s short corner was fed to Joe Tomlinson, whose drilled cross was tipped away from goal by Cooper, with Josh Knight unable to react fast enough to divert home at the far post.

As the half wore on, the forward trio of Morgan Whittaker, Jephcott and Ennis rotated in search of more joy, and it was Jephcott’s smart link-play that earned a route to goal, but Whittaker’s effort from eight yards was deflected behind by a Posh defender.

With the final notable act of the half, Swansea City loanee Whittaker successfully wriggled free of his marker but blazed a first-time effort over the bar after an excellent cut-back from Endacott.

Endacott was in the thick of it right after the restart, and Argyle were so very nearly level. A wonderful cross from the left picked out Ennis on the six-yard line, and the Pilgrims’ striker met the ball with a sweet header, only to be denied by a superb reaction save from Bergstrom.

Despite Argyle’s strong start to the half, they did not have it their own way, and Taylor reminded them of Posh’s threat on the break when he took the ball on his chest and attempted an acrobatic volley over his shoulder that flew wide of target from around the penalty spot.

Manager Schumacher introduced Finn Azaz for Jephcott on the hour, and the attacking midfielder very nearly equalised with his first touches of the ball. Breaking the lines in midfield, Azaz fed Ennis in the channel, and the striker protected possession before returning it on the edge of the area, where Azaz met it to smash narrowly over the crossbar at the Devonport End.

Azaz’ introduction breathed new life into Argyle, and the midfielder took aim once again from a short corner routine, but this time Bergstrom clawed the angled effort wide. Before his time on the pitch had amounted to 10 minutes, Azaz also saw a third effort rise over the crossbar from range, as well as collecting a yellow card for frustration at a refereeing decision.

If the manager’s message to Azaz had been to impact the contest – he was certainly doing that, and he was joined by fellow substitutes Ryan Hardie and Danny Mayor with 20 minutes to go as Argyle continued to hunt down an equaliser.

The fresh changes saw Argyle revert back to the 3-5-2 shape synonymous with the past few seasons at Home Park, with Whittaker partnering Hardie up top. The chances continued to come and go, with Azaz firing over again after some twists and turns in the box, before Whittaker got similarly underneath a first-time effort from 18 yards.

In a rare second-half foray into Argyle territory, Posh had the opportunity to put the tie to bed, but Cooper made a brave save down at the feet of Jones as the visiting striker raced clear.

Despite dominating proceedings for the remainder of the game, Argyle could not convert one of their myriad of half chances. In stoppage time with Cooper up to join a corner, Taylor added gloss to the scoreline, rolling into an empty net on the break.

Argyle (3-4-3): 1 Mike Cooper (gk); James Wilson, 21 Nigel Lonwijk, 22 Brendan Galloway (3 Macaulay Gillesphey 63); 8 Joe Edwards (capt), 4 Jordan Houghton (10 Danny Mayor 72), 7 Matt Butcher (20 Adam Randell half-time), 42 Jack Endacott; 19 Morgan Whittaker, 11 Niall Ennis (9 Ryan Hardie 72), 31 Luke Jephcott (18 Finn Azaz 58). Substitutes (not used): 25 Callum Burton (gk), 6 Dan Scarr, 17 Bali Mumba, 49 Caleb Roberts.

Booked: Wilson 49, Azaz 67

Peterborough United: 1 Lucas Bergstrom (gk), 5 Josh Knight, 7 Jeando Fuchs, 12 Nathan Thompson (capt), 17 Ricky Jade-Jones (42 Gabriel Overton 77), 19 David Ajiboye (23 Joe Ward 67), 21 Joe Tomlinson, 22 Hector Kyprianou (8 Jack Taylor 67), 26 Joel Randall (24 Ben Thompson 77), 27 Joe Taylor, 36 Charlie O’Connell. Substitutes (not used): 40 Will Lakin (gk), 4 Ronnie Edwards, 9 Jonson Clarke-Harris, 14 Jack Marriott, 16 Harrison Burrows.

Booked: Knight 89

Attendance: 6,089 (220 away)

Referee: Alan Young

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