REPORT | ARGYLE 2 CHELTENHAM TOWN 0
Cheltenham Town 0
Two fine finishes proved the difference for Argyle in another performance full of efficiency, belief and poise, as Cheltenham became the sixth straight side to suffer a Pilgrim-inflicted defeat.
Niall Ennis lashed home the first goal on 14 minutes and Danny Mayor picked out a delicious volley just before half-time for the Greens, who also included a sixth clean sheet in their double hat-trick run of victories.
Argyle boss Steven Schumacher made two changes from the 4-0 victory over Accrington, Ennis and Ryan Broom coming in for Jordon Garrick and Panutche Camara, who, along with Luke Jephcott, was away on international duty. The spare place on the bench went to 15 year-old Academy striker Freddie Issaka
The in-form Alfie May, boasting an impressive 12 goals from his last 10 games, including one in the weekend win over Wimbledon, was the first to have a pop with a shot scooped confidently on the bounce by Mike Cooper.
A long ball over the top then released Argyle’s striker on a hot streak but Ryan Hardie was thwarted by goalkeeper Owen Evans racing off his line for an unorthodox clearance. Straight back to May, for a rising drive palmed clear by Cooper.
Having scored with a terrific low strike against Accrington, Ennis opened the scoring with an even better effort, taking the shot early to rifle an emphatic finish beyond Evans and in off the far post. It was a tremendous goal from Ennis and another pleasing example of the Pilgrim firepower in attack.
Ennis very nearly doubled his tally five minutes later, flicking a clever header toward the corner from a delightful clipped cross by James Wilson, but Evans just had enough wingspan to turn it wide.
After a spell of Cheltenham possession, Argyle shifted through the gears again with Conor Grant, Mayor and Jordan Houghton patiently working room for a Hardie shot deflected narrowly wide.
The Robins responded with a deep cross aimed at Matty Blair who forced Cooper into a decent save from his header, followed by an even better one to block the rebound effort from Blair.
Argyle quashed any Cheltenham enthusiasm with a stunning second goal. Wilson lofted a long ball forward and Hardie chested back to Mayor, who took a touch and steered a sumptuous 20-yard volley into the corner.
It was another clinical finish from the Greens and a very accomplished opening 45 minutes. A quick exchange between Ennis and Hardie presented the latter with a chance to prod goalward early in the second period but Charlie Raglan made the block.
Ennis was enjoying his evening, picking out a terrific reverse pass for the run of Hardie, who took the shot early, fired across goal and Evans did well to get down smartly for the save.
Despite Argyle’s understandable confidence in their work, Cheltenham remained a threat and Blair tried his luck from distance, prompting another decent save from the alert Cooper. Successive dominant headers from James Bolton repelled the next foray from the Robins.
The Greens got going again with a lovely move down the left, Houghton threading a pass to Macaulay Gillesphey for a drilled cross that picked out Joe Edwards, but the skipper was unable to keep his shot down.
A sweeping pass from Wilson then found Grant for a textbook first touch and a left-foot rifle that was saved by Evans, with Ennis quickly adjusting his feet for an instinctive attempt from the rebound that hit the side-netting.
A deep free-kick from substitute Charlie Colkett found Raglan for a low effort saved by the legs of Cooper. The Argyle ‘keeper was finally beaten by a Will Boyle header from the subsequent long throw but Edwards was in the right place for a goalline clearance.
Adam Randell replaced Mayor for the final 20 minutes, as Cooper demonstrated impeccable handling from a dangerous Cheltenham corner. Steven Sessegnon for Edwards was the next Pilgrim change.
Garrick for Ennis was the final switch, as Argyle calmly played out the final minutes of another outstanding team performance, and we move on to Ipswich Town.
Argyle (3-5-2): 1 Mike Cooper; 5 James Wilson, 2 James Bolton, 3 Macaulay Gillesphey; 8 Joe Edwards (capt) (17 Steven Sessegnon 80), 7 Ryan Broom, 4 Jordan Houghton, 10 Danny Mayor (20 Adam Randell 71), 15 Conor Grant; 11 Niall Ennis (14 Jordon Garrick 84), 9 Ryan Hardie. Substitutes: 25 Callum Burton (gk), 27 Ryan Law, 33 Romoney Crichlow, 48 Freddie Issaka.
Cheltenham Town (3-4-3): 1 Owen Evans; 5 Charlie Raglan, 4 Matthew Pollock (19 George Lloyd 59), 15 Will Boyle (capt); 2 Sean Long, 8 Liam Sercombe (11 Ellis Chapman 76), 23 Elliott Bonds (40 Charlie Colkett 53), 6 Lewis Freestone; 17 Matty Blair, 10 Alfie May, 16 Callum Wright. Substitutes: 20 Scott Flinders (gk), 7 Conor Thomas, 14 Andy Williams, 18 Reece Hutchinson.
Booked: Colkett 90
Attendance: 12,274 (179 away)
Referee: Chris Pollard