Hardie celebrates scoring against Huddersfield


Argyle 3
Whittaker 6
Mumba 74
Hardie 76

Huddersfield Town 1
Helik 45+6

Argyle announced their return to the second tier with a display that mirrored the home dominance so crucial in securing promotion from Sky Bet League One last season.

Morgan Whittaker bundled in an early opener for the Greens but they then had to recover from conceding an equaliser to Michal Helik on the stroke of half-time.

The game was won in the space of three second-half minutes. Bali Mumba weaved his way to a fabulous goal on 74 minutes and he was backed up by a Ryan Hardie to condemn former boss Neil Warnock to an opening-day defeat.

Steven Schumacher’s first team selection as a Championship manager saw him dish out full Pilgrim debuts to goalkeeper Conor Hazard, along with Kaine Kesler-Hayden and Lewis Gibson. Summer signing Julio Pleguezuelo was absent due to a one-game suspension carried over from his time in the Netherlands.

After an understandably tense start at a Home Park being battered by the gusts of Storm Antoni, the Greens fought through the breeze to grab a joyous opening goal in front of the Kawasaki Barn Park End.

Homegrown midfielder Adam Randell was the catalyst, after good initial work from Mumba, and when the ball was centred, Whittaker forced it past a stranded Huddersfield custodian, Lee Nicholls, from close range.

Naturally buoyed by the early lead, Argyle kept probing in front of a raucous Green Army and almost doubled the lead, when a swift turn from Callum Wright created room for Hardie to slip a pass to Whittaker, who was denied on this occasion by Nicholls at the near post.

The Terriers responded with a fizzing cross from Danny Ward that just evaded the run of Brahima Diarra and then a glorious chance fell to Josh Koroma on 23 minutes, but he dragged the shot into the side-netting.

The Pilgrims broke Huddersfield’s mild period of pressure with more slick play from Mumba and an astute cutback that slipped between the onrushing forwards. A fine block from Kesler-Hayden appeared to bring a satisfactory first half to a close, but Argyle were then sucker-punched by the extended stoppage time that will be a feature of this campaign.

Six minutes beyond the allotted 45, Town found space for a sweet strike by Sorba Thomas that struck the post, but Helik was in the right place to smash home the close-range rebound.

The Terriers returned from the interval with a strong restart, taking advantage of the increasing wind in their backs, as a cross from Diarra floated on the breeze and forced Hazard into a superb piece of judgement to tip the ball over.

Gradually, Argyle settled back into their task, Whittaker rifling narrowly over before Hazard recovered from his own slip to deny the dangerous Diarra. The game was finely poised and awaiting a decisive moment: step forward Mumba.

The summer recruit from Norwich City picked up the ball on the left flank and promptly weaved a merry dance through the Huddersfield defence before slipping an assured finish beyond Nicholls. It was a beautiful individual effort and reminiscent of his wonderful loan spell last term.

The Huddersfield balloon was well and truly popped two minutes later, as Hardie made it a half-century of goals for the Greens with another clinical finish after searing past the visiting defence with explosive pace.

Hazard ensured there was no swift riposte from the visitors, bravely repelling a close-range bullet from Ward. Matt Butcher replaced Randell for the closing stages, followed by Ben Waine and Finn Azaz coming on for Hardie and Callum Wright.

Nine minutes of injury time offered Huddersfield hope but that was quashed by composed and disciplined Argyle defending. Tyreik Wright replaced the marvellous Mumba, as the Green Army celebrated a great start to life back in the Championship.

Argyle: 21 Conor Hazard, 2 Bali Mumba (19 Tyreik Wright 90+3), 4 Jordan Houghton, 6 Dan Scarr, 8 Joe Edwards (caps) 9 Ryan Hardie (23 Ben Waine 89), 10 Morgan Whittaker, 11 Callum Wright (18 Finn Azaz 89), 17 Lewis Gibson, 20 Adam Randell (7 Matt Butcher 83), 29 Kaine Kesler-Hayden.

Substitutes (not used): 25 Callum Burton (gk), 16 Lewis Warrington, 24 Saxon Earley, 34 Caleb Roberts, 35 Freddie Issaka.

Booked: Edwards 88

Huddersfield: 1 Lee Nicholls, 2 Rarmani Edmonds-Green, 3 Josh Ruffels, 4 Matty Pearson (6 Jonathan Hogg 42), 5 Michal Helik (capt), 10 Josh Koroma (22 Kian Harratt 84), 11 Brahima Diarra (30 Ben Jackson 77), 14 Sorba Thomas (26 Pat Jones 77), 16 Tom Edwards, 25 Danny Ward.

Substitutes (not used): 12 Chris Maxwell (gk), 15 Jaheim Headley, 17 Brodie Spencer, 27 Kyle Hudlin, 33 Yuta Nakayama.


Matthew Donohue

Attendance: 16,446 (1,616 away)