Adam Randell taking a corner against Oxford


Argyle 1 
Whittaker 70 

Oxford United 0 

Morgan Whittaker delivered the goal Argyle’s dominant display deserved with 20 minutes remaining on another entertaining night at Home Park. 

The Greens were fantastic with their fluent attacking for large spells of the first period but couldn’t find the breakthrough until Whittaker emerged from the bench to steer an excellent match-winning finish into the bottom corner. 

Before the action on the pitch, everyone inside Home Park came together to pay our tribute to HM Queen Elizabeth II with an impeccably observed minute’s silence, followed by a moving rendition of God Save the King. 

Argyle manager Steven Schumacher made two changes from the win at Derby ten days ago, Finn Azaz and Macaulay Gillesphey replacing Whittaker and Brendan Galloway.  

A fabulous Argyle move on five minutes saw Danny Mayor release Joe Edwards down the left. He crossed low for Ryan Hardie and the first-time lay-off just carried a fraction too much weight for the run of Azaz. 

Hardie had headed inches over from a corner in the first Pilgrim foray of the evening and the momentum continued with more terrific footwork from Mayor feeding Edwards for a deep cross just about fended clear by experienced Oxford goalkeeper Simon Eastwood.  

Lewis Bate curled an effort wide for the visitors before more Mayor magic won a corner, played short to Azaz on the edge of the box for a shot blocked by the U’s. Adam Randell repeated the trick with another low corner to a lurking Azaz and the strike was perfect, but credit to Eastwood for a good save. The rebound from Edwards fizzed just past the far post. 

Oxford enjoyed their own spell of possession around the half-hour but were unable to trouble Mike Cooper on his 100th appearance as a Pilgrim. The Greens reasserted control with a lovely move down the left involving Gillesphey, Edwards and Matt Butcher. Hardie completed the sequence with a lay-off to Azaz but the shot was steered wide. 

A long-ranger flashed off target by Gillesphey ended the first period and Argyle restarted after the break with similar verve and tempo in their play, Hardie stretching the Oxford defence on a regular basis with his selfless runs into the channels. 

A lovely pass infield from Nigel Lonwijk picked out Azaz in a pocket of space. The ball was shifted to Edwards for a cross that looped in the air off an Oxford boot, Hardie flicked a back-header toward goal and Eastwood almost fumbled into the path of a waiting Bali Mumba. 

Composed defending from the imperious Dan Scarr snuffed out a rare Oxford attack down the middle. Scarr was then forced to stretch a little further to deflect a Billy Bodin shot wide of Cooper’s near post. 

Whittaker and Niall Ennis replaced Mayor and Hardie on the hour, but the game had drifted into a spell of midfield sparring without a great deal of forward progress for either side. 

Yet another low corner to the edge of the box from Randell created an opening for Butcher but he was leaning back at the point of connection and the ball flew high over the bar. A surge from Mumba then had the Green Army back on their feet. 

Randell went long with the corner and, on the second attempt, brilliantly scooped a cross for Whittaker to attempt an acrobatic overhead kick cleared off the line by Cameron Brannagan. 

The breakthrough finally arrived moments later, Azaz feeding a pass to Ennis, who saw his shot on the turn blocked but the ball fell perfectly for Whittaker to whip a low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. 

Cooper made his first meaningful save of the night on 73 minutes, turning wide a volley from Marcus Browne after his initial punch had fallen nicely for the Oxford substitute. The U’s somehow spurned an equaliser chance from the next attack, Kyle Joseph skimming the post with the net gaping after a low cross from the right. 

Oxford introduced more attacking personnel for the closing stages, while Sam Cosgrove was given his home debut in place of Azaz.  

Cosgrove almost notched on the rebound after an Edwards shot had been saved but the job was done, three points earned and Saturday’s trip to Portsmouth is going to be a special occasion. 

Argyle: 1 Mike Cooper; 21 Nigel Lonwijk, 6 Dan Scarr, 3 Macaulay Gillesphey; 8 Joe Edwards (capt), 20 Adam Randell (4 Jordan Houghton 90), 7 Matt Butcher, 17 Bali Mumba (5 James Wilson 90); 18 Finn Azaz (16 Sam Cosgrove 87), 9 Ryan Hardie (11 Niall Ennis 62), 10 Danny Mayor (19 Morgan Whittaker 62). Substitutes (not used): 25 Callum Burton (gk), 22 Brendan Galloway. 

Booked: Randell 42 

Oxford: 13 Simon Eastwood; 2 Sam Long, 4 Stuart Findlay, 7 Billy Bodin (29 Slavi Spasov 83), 8 Cameron Brannagan (capt) 14 Lewis Bate (11 Marcus Browne 68), 16 Ciaron Brown, 17 James Henry (27 Tyler Goodrham 83), 18 Marcus McGuane, 22 Kyle Joseph, 42 Steve Seddon (33 Djavan Anderson 75). Substitutes (not used): 21 Ed McGinty (gk), 6 Alex Rodriguez, 15 John Mousinho. 

Booked: Findlay 66, Brown 80 

Attendance: 12,569 (309 away) 

Referee: Craig Hicks