REPORT | ARGYLE 1 CRYSTAL PALACE 0
Crystal Palace 0
A last-minute goal from substitute Niall Ennis proved enough for Argyle to edge past Crystal Palace U21’s and confirm the Pilgrim place in the next round of the Papa Johns Trophy.
On an evening of autumnal breeze inside Home Park, a delicious clipped ball from Will Jenkins Davies conjured the first chance, Jack Endacaott racing into the left channel for a first-time drive that ruffled the side-netting.
Jenkins Davies was involved in Argyle’s next foray, feeding a pass down the line for Sam Cosgrove to cut the ball back to Caleb Roberts, who instantly flicked it wide to Conor Grant, but his right-foot shot was dragged wide from the edge of the area.
A Roberts strike skewed wide on 26 minutes looked to continue the positive Pilgrim momentum but, in truth, it was a game that needed a sprinkle of magic from someone to spark into life.
An ambitious long-range drive fizzed wide by Cosgrove summed up the lack of clear opportunities in the opening half and it turned out to be a set-piece, floated long to Sean Grehan, that presented Palace with their best chance. Thankfully, his downward header was directed wide of Callum Burton’s far post.
Ryan Hardie replace Cosgrive at the interval, swiftly followed by Finn Azaz for Jenkins Davies, but the focus soon turned to Brendan Galloway, finding an excellent defensive header to thwart a rare Palace foray. Bali Mumba and Adam Randell were introduced for Grant and Finley Craske on the hour.
A clever back-header from Hardie squeezed wide of the neat post, as the Pilgrims set up camp in the Palace half. Argyle were edging closer to a decisive moment, an Azaz pass just carrying too much weight for Mumba to have a shot on goal.
On a night of limited chances, the swirling wind was an understandable excuse for the attacking players on show, as neither side could find a settled rhythm, with the Greens turning to the bench one more time, Ennis replacing Roberts.
A lovely pass from Azaz released Endacott for a low drive saved by Joe Whitworth on 73 minutes and the Palace custodian was soon called into action again, diving to his left to hold a sweeping effort from Mumba.
Gradually, the Greens were increasing the tempo, Randell exchanging passes to create room for a Matt Butcher strike that fizzed over the bar. Mumba then worked the ball inside for a pass to Ennis, cleared at the near post.
Brilliant play from Mumba led to the best chance of the evening on 85 minutes, as he weaved down the right and slipped a pass to Hardie for a low strike, but credit to Whitworth for a super reaction save with his legs.
The Greens were getting closer, Azaz drilling another low strike inches beyond the far post from 16 yards before a bundle on Ennis prompted mild shouts for a penalty, referee Benjamin Speedie instead awarding the foul to Palace.
The decisive goal finally arrived in the final minute, Ennis racing into the right channel and slipping a lovely finish beyond Whitworth to confirm Argyle’s progress in the Trophy.
Argyle: 25 Callum Burton; 6 Dan Scarr (c), 7 Matt Butcher, 15 Conor Grant (20 Adam Randell 61), 16 Sam Cosgrove (9 Ryan Hardie H-T), 32 Brendan Galloway, 36 Finley Craske (17 Bali Mumba 61), 42 Jack Endacott, 43 Oscar Halls, 44 Will Jenkins Davies (18 Finn Azaz 56), 49 Caleb Roberts (11 Niall Ennis 72). Substitutes (not used): 45 Zak Baker (gk), 37 Brandon Pursall.
Crystal Palace: 42 Joe Whitworth, 40 John-Kymani Gordon, 45 Jack Wells-Morrison, 46 Sean Grehan, 50 Danny Imray (62 Maliq Cadogan 84), 54 Danny Omilabu (51 Fionn Mooney 70), 55 Killian Phillips, 58 Noah Watson, 60 Victor Akinwale, 77 David Ozoh (53 Ademola Ola-Abebomi 77), 78 Kaden Rodney (64 Jadan Raymond 84). Substitutes (not used): 74 Jackson Izquierdo (gk), 59 Josh Addae, 72 Freddie Bell.
Referee: Benjamin Speedie