REPORT | ARGYLE 2 CHARLTON ATHLETIC 0
Charlton Athletic 0
Argyle returned to winning ways with a performance of complete control that saw home goalkeeper Callum Burton enjoy an afternoon of blissful inactivity.
To be fair, neither custodian was really tested in the first half but the Greens took charge after the break, Ryan Hardie pouncing on a mistake from the kick-off and substitute Niall Ennis sealed a thoroughly deserved victory on 87 minutes.
Argyle boss made five changes from the defeat at Peterborough last weekend, with Brendan Galloway, Joe Edwards, Jordan Houghton, Danny Mayor and Finn Azaz all coming into the starting line-up.
In a lively start at a packed Home Park, Gavin Kilkenny fired over for Charlton before Azaz and Mayor probed in a dangerous position, forcing the visitors into a hurried clearance. A weaving run from Bali Mumba stressed the Addicks even further on ten minutes, with skipper George Dobson scrambling to block the cross.
Hardie’s pace began to stretch Charlton with runs in the channel, Michael Hector reading one surge to mop up after an incisive Mayor pass. The Addicks replied with a dangerous cross toward Sean Clare but a covering Mumba did enough to protect a serious threat on Burton’s goal.
Argyle released a brief spell of Charlton pressure with a fantastic break out of defence from James Wilson, threading a pass for Hardie, who found Azaz in the box but he was unable to get his shot away.
A superb recovery tackle from Lucas Ness then prevented Hardie from testing goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer after a terrific pass by Azaz into the left channel of the penalty area.
Gradually, the Pilgrims began to pin Charlton in their own half, with Edwards and Mumba asking questions from out wide, although it was a delightful chipped pass through the middle from Houghton which picked out Hardie for a chest and volley that deflected inches over.
A tight game stayed tight until the half-time whistle.
The story changed within nine seconds of the restart, as Charlton played the ball back to centre-half Ness. His attempted clearance was charged down by Hardie, who immediately pounced on the loose ball to clip a lovely finish over the diving Maynard-Brewer.
Argyle looked to build on the perfect start to the half with a concerted spell of pressure, led by Houghton and Matt Butcher winning all the loose balls in midfield. On 53 minutes, a header from Houghton, meeting a deep corner by Azaz, was plucked out of the sky by a relieved Maynard-Brewer.
Houghton returned to bossing the engine room with a super tackle on Kilkenny and the ball fell to Hardie for a 25-yarder that whistled past the top corner.
A fabulous Pilgrim move down the left involving Hardie, Azaz and Mumba culminated in a pass cutback to Butcher, entering the penalty area, and he steered a clever volley toward the far corner, saved at full stretch by Maynard-Brewer.
The Greens were laying siege, with Azaz and Hardie both thwarted by last-ditch tackles following more fluent football from Argyle. The home dominance was reflected in a triple change for the Addicks.
Despite the fresh troops for Charlton, it was a beautiful move involving Mayor and Hardie that carved open another big chance, but Argyle’s number nine just hesitated when pulling the trigger and the ball was forced out for a corner.
Callum Wright for Mayor was the first Argyle substitution, as Argyle were forced into a rare defensive stint, Macaulay Gillesphey twice heading clear in the six-yard box, with Charlton cranking up their attacking impetus for the closing 15 minutes.
Sam Cosgrove, Nigel Lonwijk and Ennis were the trio charged with helping Argyle close out the game, replacing Hardie, Azaz and Galloway, although it was all about alert goalkeeping from Burton to preserve the lead, racing off his line after Corey Blackett-Taylor threatened to race through on goal.
Argyle sealed the deal with a fine goal on the counter, Edwards broke through the middle and then timed a lovely pass into the channel for Wright who cut it back to Ennis for an assured finish into the bottom corner.
Saxon Earley replaced Mumba for the last few minutes and a satisfied Argyle move on to the televised visit of Derby County on Tuesday night.
Argyle: 25 Callum Burton; 3 Macaulay Gillesphey, 4 Jordan Houghton, 5 James Wilson, 7 Matt Butcher, 8 Joe Edwards (capt), 9 Ryan Hardie (16 Sam Cosgrove 80), 10 Danny Mayor (26 Callum Wright 71), 17 Bali Mumba (24 Saxon Earley 88), 18 Finn Azaz (11 Niall Ennis 80), 22 Brendan Galloway (21 Nigel Lonwijk 80). Substitutes (not used): 32 Adam Parkes (gk), 28 Jay Matete.
Charlton: 31 Ashley Maynard-Brewer, 2 Steven Sessegnon, 4 George Dobson (capt), 6 Michael Hector (23 Corey Blackett-Taylor 65), 8 Macauley Bonne (33 Miles Leaburn 65), 15 Gavin Kilkenny, 17 Jesurun Rak-Sakyi, 19 Jack Payne (35 Daniel Kanu 65), 24 Ryan Inniss, 28 Sean Clare, 34 Lucas Ness. Substitutes: 1 Joe Wollacott (gk), 3 Terell Thomas, 10 Albie Morgan, 32 Aaron Henry.
Attendance: 16,011 (655 away)
Referee: Andy Woolmer